The Q&A Archives: Landscape Design for High Plains

Question: I am new to the high prairie. I have ordered roses and perennials but I need to plan my planting to include veggies and annuals as the yard is a total disaster. It is 75' x 150'. The house takes up about 900 sq ft. My books aren't that good for figuring out how to landscape, not only for beauty but for the health and growth of the plants. My herbs and roses are essential to me as I make potpourri. I'm a senior citizen so I cannot get too ambitious physically, and I'm on SS retirement fixed income.

Answer: I'm not sure what you mean when you say your yard is a disaster (poor soil? shady? stoney?). Your high prairie enviroment can get quite dry during the summer, which is an advantage in keeping plant diseases at a minimum, but even if you've purchased drought-tolerant roses and perennials, they'll need a little extra moisture the first season to get well established. I suggest that you concentrate on improving a few beds with compost for your potpourri plants and veggies, and choose native plants that are already adapted to the regional conditions to landscape the rest of your yard. If you become a member of a native plant society in your state, you may even be able to get plants for free from other members. Here are a couple of sources for native plants and information:

Western Native Seed, PO Box 163, Salida, CO 81201; ph# 719/539-1071

Colorado Native Plant Society, PO Box 200, Ft. Collins CO 80522

Great Plains Native Plant Society, PO Box 166, Medina WA 98039; e-mail:

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