The Q&A Archives: Shade and Landscaping Covers for Colorado

Question: My husband and I are building a new home in Durango, CO. Our site has heavy clay soil, lots of solar exposure and huge swaths of sage which we would like to keep. I'd like to know how to provide cover in the areas which have been excavated, including a wide expanse of ground over the septic tank and leach field. We would also like to provide some shade, especially on the south and west sides of the house, as quickly as possible. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

Answer: For a quick and inexpensive cover in newly excavated areas, use crownvetch (Coronilla varia). As that fills in the first year, check into the many other options for ground covers (albeit slower) in Colorado. For shade, I'd suggest closely planting amix of fast-growing trees (such as the many kinds of Poplars that do well there) with the more desirable but slower growing trees such as firs, maples, oaks. When the slower-growing trees reach an acceptable size and fill in, cut down the fast (but trashy) trees.

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