Urban Garden Denver Blog

Once-a-year watering

The north side of my house is a narrow side-yard, with little sun. It’s not a through-path to anything, since there is no gate in the fence at the back. The goal with my north side is something to cover the ground with little or no maintenance. When we moved into our house, there was an old lilac bush on the north side, outside the den window. I love springtime when the lilac blooms. It is a white lilac, which surprised me the first year, only because I was expecting purple. With its deep shaded roots, it doesn’t require supplemental watering, which is a good thing, because the bush is a long ways from the hose.

Many years ago I started vinca on the north side, to cover the bare dirt. I watered it for the first year to get established, but now it does fine most years, just from the little rainfall that it gets. Last weekend I noticed that the vinca was looking a bit peaked, so I watered the vinca and the lilac. The leaves of the vinca have responded by perking up.

Vinca can be invasive, if you have it in a section of the garden that is competing with other plants, but a large section of vinca is a great solution for an out-of-the way part of the yard and it definitely conserves water (as long as you don’t set the irrigation system to water it). When I see side yards with a narrow section of lawn outside a fence, I always think that this is a great place for vinca. The light blue flowers in the spring are a nice bonus, but the evergreen leaves of the plant are the main attraction. If you want some vinca, don’t buy it, just come by and dig up some starts. I shared my vinca with my neighbor across the street several years ago and now she has a nice covering of vinca on the north side of her home.

I was reading about a housing development in Douglas County that was under review because the developers hadn’t secured enough water for the homes. Responsible use of water and conservation in our landscape is really essential for this semi-arid climate we live in. Replacing some turf with low-water groundcover¬†is a great solution and this time of year is a good time to get new plantings rooted in before winter.

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