Plant Health

Healthy plants = efficient water use!

Use good soil

Trumpet vine on fenceHaving good soil for plants and turf is one of the best ways to promote good plant health and to reduce the need for irrigation. For new landscaping, mix or till organic compost at least 6-inches down. For established lawns, use organic compost instead of fertilizer to enrich the soil. Castle Rock soil is primarily made up of clay which prevents good water absorption and needs organic matter such as compost. Likewise, sandy soils need organic matter for proper enrichment.

Use mulch

Add a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil, reduces water loss, and prevents weeds. Remember to keep mulch 6 inches away from tree and shrub trunks to help prevent disease and insect problems.

Keep grass blades long

Adjust your lawn mower to the height of 2.5 to 3 inches or higher. Taller grass shades roots, holds soil moisture better, leaves fewer open spaces for weed seed germination, and builds healthier grass. Remember to sharpen your mower blade to prevent leaf fraying.

Mulch your clippings

Leave lawn clippings on your grass which cools the ground, adds nutrients back to the soil, and holds in moisture. Note: One full season of mulching grass has the same benefits as one fertilizer treatment, without the extra cost, effort or chemicals.

Aerate your lawn

Annual (or semi-annual) aeration allows oxygen and water to reach the roots, strengthening the root structure. Healthy soil should have 25% air and 25% water, which compacted soils don’t allow. Aeration is a must for a healthy lawn!

Use minimal fertilizer

While fertilizers can promote plant growth, they also increase water consumption. If you choose to use fertilizer, apply the least amount of fertilizer needed and use organic materials. Choose a fertilizer with no phosphorous (the middle number is 0). A major contaminant in our streams and reservoirs is excess fertilizer. Note: Excess fertilizer can be damaging to plants.

Use alternative turf

If installing a lawn, select a lawn mix more suited for the Colorado climate. Look into other lower-water options such as Texas Hybrid or another regional eco-friendly brand. If the yard is sunny, Dog Tuff or buffalograss may be a good option. Note: Castle Rock Water does not necessarily recommend artificial turf as it doesn’t filter air or cool temperatures, it tends to be expensive, only lasts 10 to 15 years, and thus adds to the landfill, and it still requires some water for cleaning and cooling. However, artificial turf is also an option.

Plant in groups

Allow a group of plants or groundcover to create shade for the plant root systems and reduce evaporation. Planting in groups instead of rows also gives the illusion of a more robust plant.  Planting in odd numbers creates a more natural look.

Plant a tree

Trees are a necessary element to a landscape. Their roots stabilize the yard and help control erosion, their canopy provides shade saving water and energy, and they are the foundation to the overall design. Like other plants, trees can be temperamental and giving them a good head start with proper planting is essential. Unfortunately, trees are frequently planted too deep, their container wrapping is still attached and the planting hole is not large enough, giving way to the slow demise of the tree. Here's a video on how to plant a tree.

Weed regularly

Weed your lawn and planting beds regularly. Weeds compete with other plants for nutrients, sunlight and water.

Water only when necessary

If walking across the lawn leaves footprints (blades don’t spring back up), then it is time to water. Over-watering is a primary cause of poor plant health. Check out our Run Time Calculator to estimate your irrigation time. Note: Start with shorter irrigation times and increase or decrease as needed.

Overcome thatch 

Thatch is generally due to compacted soil, overfertilization, heavy irrigation and excessive application of pesticides. A healthy lawn needs air and moisture in the soil with good microorganisms to help break down the organic matter of thatch. To remediate thatch, do not cut more than one-third of the grass blade per mowing. Mow multiple times, if necessary. Aerate at least once a year. Don't overwater and reduce or eliminate fertilizer.