secret garden on urban plot side of house, planting strip between sidewalk and street with perennials, petunias, zinnias, yarrow, catmint, manzanita panchito, golden storksbill
Photo: Dale Horchner
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Dry Gardening Fit for Denver

While Holly was making headway installing her outdoor living areas, she was also tackling the planting strips between the sidewalks and the streets. These expanses, which are 10 to 15 feet wide, were just lawn, which she had to constantly irrigate, weed, and mow. "I was paying more each year to my lawn service even as I was reducing the lawn's square footage," she says. She discovered a solution when she visited a demonstration xeriscape, or dry garden, now promoted as the most suitable kind of landscaping for arid climates like Denver's. The garden's drought-tolerant plantings impressed Holly with their lush look. She decided to copy the idea at her house by putting in one approximately 10-by-15-foot xeriscape garden each year until her streetside gardens were transformed. Frustrated by having to dig up the old lawn, she started just covering it with cardboard and piling on alternating layers of leaves and soil. Adding a blanket of fine pea gravel around the plants keeps weeds down and moisture in.

Shown: In the planting strips between sidewalk and street, Holly 
has been gradually converting from conventional lawn to water-thrifty perennials. This new bed is also planted with colorful annual petunias and zinnias to fill in until the perennials—including yarrow, catmint, manzanita panchito, and golden storksbill—become well established. Behind the picket fence, new and old ironwork and salvaged ornaments add an artistic personality to the gardens beside the house.
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