Many plants that are considered as common weeds are actually highly nutritious and even considered important for human survival. They can be used for food, medicine, or self care. Know these useful plants for your benefit! They are growing for you for free!
There are several strategies for dealing with these beneficial plants:
Here is a list of common useful weeds (and related species):
(Please note this section is under construction)
I highly recommend these books for much greater detail and information:
The easiest way to convert sod or weed areas to beautiful garden beds is by using a well known permaculture technique called sheet mulching. This technique suppresses weeds and causes the soil to retain maximum moisture.
A key material to suppress weeds and retain moisture is cardboard, which is the first layer to lay down. After this, various organic materials are added that act as both mulch and soil amendments. These added materials will break down over time and cause the soil to become extremely rich, especially when added on top of the clay that dominates the Northern Colorado region.
Organic soil amendments are very important, as our clay is very dense and does not support healthy root development. Some common examples include manure, leaves, compost, and straw. Wood chips can also be used, but they are slow to break down, which can be good or bad depending on your objective. Woody material buried deep can be good, as it will eventually decompose and provide rich habitat for worms and other soil organisms. Wood chips applied as a top layer can provide a long lasting weed barrier.
Generally, it is a good idea to wait a year after sheet mulching before planting. This allows materials to break down and for soil organisms (worms, bugs, microarthropods, bacteria and fungi) to become established. After this, tilling is not required; in fact, it is even discouraged, as it upsets the soil balance and releases carbon into the atmosphere. Thus, less work is ultimately required.
To maintain the bed, organic matter is added to maintain a thick enough mulch covering to suppress weeds. Weeds that grow through the top loose mulch covering are easily removed.
If you want to plant immediately, then it is a good idea to apply a healthy layer of plant bed mix, which is typically a premixed topsoil and compost blend.
Finally, if you are replacing sod, then you may need to modify your sprinkler system. This is something we do frequently, and we would be happy to explain the various options for you.
We are always very happy to help you accomplish your goals efficiently. Happy gardening!
Colorado weather is highly variable one year to the next, and even one week to the next. In Fort Collins, Colorado, the last frost date is May 16 and the first frost date is September 18 (using 10% as a probability that a frost will occur between these dates). This rule of thumb means that we only have about 4 months of 90% guaranteed frost free weather. This is an issue when it comes to using a sprinkler system to water your property, because you don't want pipes to freeze and burst.
For this reason, almost all homeowners have their sprinkler systems winterized in the fall - blown out with compressed air before it has a chance to freeze. There are several options available to allow homeowners to protect their system before needing to perform a full winterization procedure, thus enabling the sprinkler system to safely run for more than 4 months out of the year. This is an important advantage, since Northern Colorado's semi-arid climate and sporadic precipitation place a lot of limitations and stress on grass and plant growth. Below, I list some options for protecting your sprinkler system while extending your watering season at the same time.
Options for Protecting Your Sprinkler System During a Freeze Event
1. Turn-on After Last Frost / Blowout Before First Frost
Usually a safe option, but limits the watering season to about 4 months. Not fail safe, however, as later and earlier frosts can still occur, and it severely limits watering capability.
2. Insulate the Backflow Device
Chosen by most homeowners to gain approximately an extra month before the last frost and after the first frost. Extends the watering season to about 6 months, assuming one does a good job insulating the backflow device. However, homeowners can run into trouble when unexpected severe cold weather occurs and they can't schedule a winterization soon enough. With extreme cold, it is almost impossible to insulate sufficiently, and damage often occurs.
3. Drain the Backflow Device and Valve Manifold
Draining the backflow device and valve manifold offers excellent protection, since there is nothing above ground to freeze. However, this is only an option if the backflow and manifold are designed to be able to completely drain, and only a small fraction of backflow devices are designed to be able to do this. It's a very wise choice, however, because it doesn't cost much extra to add the necessary components to allow quick and easy draining from both sides of the backflow and from the valve manifold. EcoWise Sprinkler & Landscaping always designs systems in such a manner because it allows significant watering season extension for a negligible additional cost.
4. Self-Draining Drip System
Since the drip system is above ground, it should include automatic drain valves on all the lines. These valves close when pressurized but open when the line is no longer pressurized.
5. Full Self-Draining Sprinkler SystemThe most versatile but most expensive option is to install automatic or manual drain valves at the lowest point of every zone. Care must be taken to ensure that the lines slope evenly to the drains without significant ups and downs which could trap water. At the drain valve a gravel pit must be installed to catch the water from the line. The pit must be lined with landscape fabric to keep dirt from filling the pit and creating a hole in the yard.
Hopefully this helps your understanding of some important design considerations. Call us if you have any questions. We are happy to help!