Archive for Durango Colorado

Durango Landscaping Contractor Gardenhart Landscape Design Recommends Recycled Plastic and Steel Edge

Durango Colorado Landscaping Companies Use Quality Edging Products for Results

When we look at landscapes everywhere, various elements are delineated by landscape edging, grass areas from perennial beds, vegetable gardens from the compost pile, gravel walkways from shrub beds and many other applications.  I think that the material we use is an important piece of the design.

First, before we discuss the different materials , I should say that here in Durango Colorado, our ground freezes in the winter, so we need to use an edging material that will resist frost heaving.  This process will tend to push some edging material out of the ground, creating an unsightly and dangerous situation.  An installer should use the pins or stake materials provided with the edging.

Lets discuss the general types and their suitability.

1)  Steel, usually available in 10′ sections, green and brown, they are easy to transport and not to difficult to install.  They have slots for the stakes to hold them together and to hold them in the ground.  Gardenhart Landscape & Design has installed hundreds of them over the years as it was the only option.

steel edge Durango Colorado landscape ideas

Stakes hold pieces together and in the ground

Landscape architects Durango Colorado

Defines grass from plantings

Durango Colorado steel edge installation

application next to sidewalk

Steel edge application for sidewalk

2) Aluminum, available in 10′ as well, not easy to find, need to purchase pins to hold it in place and only comes in silver.  Can be difficult to cut and work with.

landscape ideas durango Landscape architect

aluminum edge separates grass from plants

Landscape Architect Durango Colorado  ideas edging

pins similar to steel edge

3) Plastic, comes in a roll, 10′ long ,black , comes with stakes to hold it down and dowels to join the pieces together.  Inexpensive and available in big box stores.  I find it difficult to work with and does NOT stay in the ground, however well installed.

gardenhart landscape & design durango colorado

plastic edging in ground

landscape architect Durango Colorado

edge separates materials

4) Recycled Plastic, 20′ piece, tan in color, difficult to transport for most people, rather expensive and requires special pins to hold it in the ground. I have used it in several applications and am starting to prefer it over steel.  Lots of Gardenhart’s clients like the recycled aspect of the product.

recycled plastic edge ideas landscape how to install edge

installed above grade

Durango landscape ideas borders planting areas

similar to Trex but for edging

In summary, we at Gardenhart Landscape & Design, strive to use products that represent the wishes of its clients while providing a high quality landscape design and installation.  We are open to learning about new developments in our industry and providing them to our clients in the Four Corners area of Southwestern Colorado.


David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design

Durango, Colorado


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Selecting a Landscaping Professional: What Questions To Ask in Durango Colorado

Questions to Ask a Landscaping Professional in Durango Colorado

In a previous blog, I was writing about how to select a landscape architect, designer or contractor to design and complete landscaping projects on your property.  I am assuming that you read that post and now you are ready to actually call someone and set an appointment for them to come to your site and talk about what you want to accomplish.

One of the first things you should notice is do they answer their phone or promptly call you back. It should not take them days to return your call, by the next morning if not sooner. Once you have them on the Landscaping Durango Colorado Gardenhart Landscape & Designphone, they will probably ask you a few questions about what you are hoping to achieve, how you got their number and then they might want to schedule and appointment to meet at your house.

This is where you really can decide whom you want to work with, you can get an understanding of them as a person. Do they listen to what you want and ask lots of questions or have they decided what you need? A good designer will gather as much information as possible about how you hope to use the land and incorporate that into their planning.

If you did not discuss their qualification before meeting them, you should do so now, asking about schooling and what area of the country have they done most of their work, are they familiar with the soil, plants, climate attributes specific to your geographical area?

Check out this article for even more details.

I recently looked in our local Durango, Colorado yellow pages and counted over fifty companies listed under Landscaping Contractors, obviously, they have different levels of experience, some who have been in the industry and this locale for many years and have numerous references. There are others who have a shovel and a pickup truck and can plant a bush. Your job is to determine who will give you the best value, a functional outdoor space for an appropriate price.

David Hart
Gardenhart Landscape & Design

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Landscape Watering Dilemmas in Durango Colorado: How Much?

Wildlife Resistant Landscape

How Much Do I water these Trees and Perennials?

How much do I water my SW Colorado landscape?

There is a very similar outcome when you water too much or too little.  One way to really decide whether to water or not is to actually feel the soil.  If you will dig down about three inches and grab a handful of soil and try to squeeze  it into a ball.  If it sticks together, then it still has sufficient moisture.  The problem with over watering is that the water molecules replace the oxygen in the soil and causes distress to plants.

Durango Landscaping Services by Gardenhart Landscape & Design

Sod & Grass use different amounts of water than many Trees and Plants

Signs of Over watering from Gardenhart Landscape & Design

It seems to me that my garden has not been growing very well and perhaps it is because it has been over watered.  The soil at my house is very hard packed river bottom and even though we have  tilled the garden area and applied compost and soil amendments numerous times, we still do not have a “well-drained soil”.  Watering here is difficult, too much and it runs off and not enough we water only the surface, which encourages shallow roots.  Ideal soil will absorb water down to about eighteen inches or deeper, then allow it to gradually dry out over a predictable period of time.  The plant roots will seek the moisture by going deeper in the soil,  thus they are less susceptible to dry times.

Durango Colorado Landscaping Companies help figure out how much to water

How Much Water Does Sod Need?

In summary, watering is very site specific, depending on your soil composition and the requirements of the individual plants.   As long as the soil will absorb water, deep watering is preferred.  You must pay attention to what is going on with your plants and the soil they are trying to grow in.


David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design


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Monument Plant (Frasera speciosa) Green Gentian in Bloom Now: The Tallest Wildflower I’ve Seen!

Monument Plant

View the Monument Plant near Durango Colorado

While I have been out in the alpine regions of Colorado, recently, I have been seeing the tallest wildflower blooming. These tall spikey, green multi-flowered plants are called the Monument Plant, (Frasera speciosa) or Green Gentian. I haven’t seen a good show of these wildflowers for many years.  So I started to wonder why they bloom en masse so infrequently.  I did some research and found out that the indicator to a good blooming period is for a wet July & August, 4 years prior….can you imagine that it takes four years for a plant to bloom like this?  It is a monocarpic plant, i.e., one which grows many years, flowers once, then dies.  Perhaps the most well know monocarpic plant is the Southwest’s Century Plant. 

A great local webpage by is found at which provides a lot more information and great photos!

I have seen great displays at Coal Bank Pass and in Crested Butte Colorado.  I recommend to get out and see some of these tall wonders.  They are amazing.


David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design


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Best Trees to Plant in Durango, Colorado

Gardenhart Landscape & Design Recommended Everlasting Tree Varieties to Plant in Southwest Colorado

There are many great resources regarding recommended trees to plant in the Durango area.  Gardenhart Landscape & Design’s recommendations are based on years of landscape design and installation and appropriateness in our area with special attention to deer & disease resistance, overall hardiness, ease of care, beauty and  size.  Gardenhart’s list includes:

  1. Ginnala Maple
  2. Wasatch Maple
  3. Western Hackberry
  4. Russian Hawthorn
  5. Green Ash
  6. Thornless Honeylocust
  7. Brandywine Crabapple
  8. Gambell Oak
  9. English Oak
  10. Schumard Oak


  1. White Fir
  2. Meyer Juniper
  3. Utah Juniper
  4. Limber Pine
  5. Austrian Pine
  6. Eastern White Pine
  7. Southwestern White Pine
  8. Scotch Pine

This link directs you to the unsuitable trees as recommended by the City of Durango.  The list of trees on the link are not planted in Durango because of one or more of the following undesirable characteristics: Prolific seed production, invasive habits, fruit, pods, thorn bearing, weak limbs and/or structure and insect and disease problems.

According to Ron Stoner, one of the city of Durango’s favorite trees is the Wasatch Maple.  It is very hardy and looks great!

landscaping in Durango Colorado

Fall Maple Color

Durango nursery lists all zone 3 shrubs and trees.

If you have other questions about type, location and watering schedule for certain trees, let me know.


David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design


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Snow Loads in Durango Colorado; when to remove the snow

Durango snow on roof

Snow removal from roof

Snow loads can be dangerous.  It is important to know how heavy the snow may be, because it can do some serious damage if you are not careful.  Check out these articles for recent roof damage around Durango Colorado:

This article has great information regarding the snow weight and what that may mean to you:

I found this article to be interesting because of several roof failures we have seen here in the Durango area.  The article mentions some of the larger structures that have collapsed recently, but I am aware of a lot of problems that do not make the newspaper.  While roof  failure is a significant possibility, there are other reasons for not wanting tons of snow on your roof.   Many roofs are leaking from snowmelt and ice dams.  This is a serious problem that can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your home and it’s contents.  Gardenhart Landscape & Design has worked on several roofs to remove the snow and thus stop the flow of melting water into the residence.

Another concern of mine is snow accumulating on manufactured homes and modular structures that are not constructed for snow loads typically found in Durango and the surrounding La Plata County area.  Many of these homes are built in other parts of the country and transported to Durango that do not have building codes that require roofs to withstand up to 40 lbs.  per square foot.  So, help out your friends and neighbors, remind them to monitor their roof loads so we all can get through this winter season safe and look forward to SPRING!

I really appreciate metal roofs and how they assist the snow load to move off the roof.  I see a lot of houses in Durango that have a shingle or shake roof that accumulates the snow.  If you are thinking about building and need suggestions about what kind of roof to use, I recommend a metal roof that has a good pitch to it.  This will alleviate a lot of hard shoveling and getting up on the roof to remove that load.


David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design


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Durango Snow Removal Tips focusing on Ice Melt Products

Now that Gardenhart Landscape & Design has caught up from the last storm, the problem I am having is snow melting from my roof on the driveway and freezing into a solid mass of ice. I wonder if others are having the same problem and what solutions have worked. I used to get out there with sharp tools and flat shovel and work for hours chipping and removing it by hand.  Ice melt products have had a negative connotation for me until recently and I have begun experimenting with them at my home. I have found that they really do a good job with very icy areas.  It does take some time, but removing the hard ice is tough.

The Pro’s of using ice melt include less work, faster melting.  But the cons include granular rock type material around your walks and being tracked into the house.  The ice melt is made from a chemical composition that includes some of the items in the below table which are  potentially harmful to concrete, plants, pets or your drinking water if you have your own well.

Instead of “salting” your driveway, use types that are safe for pets. This alternative to salt for ice melting is more eco-friendly than salt. Many pet safe ice melt products don’t contain salt, but rather three organic ingredients.   You could also try using baking soda or kitty litter on the ice, which is a lot safer.

Chemicals Used to Melt Ice

Name Formula Lowest Practical Temp Pros Cons
Ammonium sulfate (NH4)2SO4 -7°C
Fertilizer Damages concrete
Calcium chloride CaCl2 -29°C
Melts ice faster than sodium chloride Attracts moisture, surfaces slippery below -18°C (0°F)
Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) Calcium carbonate CaCO3, magnesium carbonate MgCO3, and acetic acid CH3COOH -9°C
Safest for concrete & vegetation Works better to prevent re-icing than as ice remover
Magnesium chloride MgCl2 -15°C
Melts ice faster than sodium chloride Attracts moisture
Potassium acetate CH3COOK -9°C
Biodegradable Corrosive
Potassium chloride KCl -7°C
Fertilizer Damages concrete
Sodium chloride (rock salt, halite) NaCl -9°C
Keeps sidewalks dry Corrosive, damages concrete & vegetation
Urea NH2CONH2 -7°C
Fertilizer Agricultural grade is corrosive

Ice melt products may cut  ice problems, but can really affect lawns. Most ice melts have a high pH level, and this burns the lawn, killing grass.  The problem area generally can be easy to repair. Gypsum may help reverse the damage because it has two key ingredients, calcium and sulfur, that help neutralize the soil.

Therefore, the overall conclusion that I have come to is to read the ingredient label on all ice melt products. I will purchase those that are the safest and stay away from those most harmful.  Calcium chloride and magnesium chloride appear the safest to use, but I will experiment with both baking soda and kitty litter. This will be good for our landscaping, pets, water and the earth.


David Hart

Gardenhart Landscape & Design


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