Posted on Aug 5, 2016

Ants are common throughout Colorado, and large numbers occur in the average landscape. Most ants are beneficial in controlling pest insects, destroying weed seeds and improving soil with their nesting habits. However, ants can cause problems when they nest in the lawn, garden or children's playground area.

Ant nests are produced underground, and colonies can contain thousands of workers. Carpenter ants are large black ants that usually construct their nests in decaying wood. Ants forage constantly during the summer months, and will chew through plant roots if their nest area is located adjacent to plants. Ants are highly adaptable in their nesting habits. You can usually find their nests by watching the movement of the ants. Although some ants build conspicuous mounds, others don't, so watching the pathway of the workers will direct you to the nest.

Ants that damage plants in the garden are sometimes associated with aphids that are feeding on the roots. Ants feed on the sweet excretion of the aphids, which protects the aphids and creates feeding tunnels in and around plant roots. Ants found climbing trees are either interested in the aphids feeding on the foliage, or the sap flowing from the tree as a result of natural causes, disease or injury. Ants are also attracted to peonies because of the sap the flower buds secrete. It's a myth that ants are necessary to permit peonies to bloom.


Slugs, a common garden pest, are snails without a shell. Size can vary from one-fourth inch to two inches depending on age and species. They spend the winter as pearl-like eggs in protected places, usually under plant debris. The eggs hatch in 2-4 weeks and can grow for up to 2 years before reaching maturity.

Feeding occurs primarily in the evening and on dark, cloudy days. Slugs are very destructive and are difficult to control. They eat irregularly-shaped holes in tender plant tissues, leaving a slime trail behind.

Slugs require a cool, moist environment and won't survive long under dry, warm conditions. Slug populations thrive under frequent irrigation, heavy shade and high plant densities that keep soil cool and moist.

Several cultural practices can help manage slug problems. For example, slugs can be quickly eliminated by creating a drier, warmer soil surface. Drip irrigation, plant spacing and increased air circulation are recommended management tools. New research from the USDA shows that a 2% solution of caffeine (coffee) kills slugs while a weaker solution takes away their appetite. Maintain permanent walkways of clover, sod or stone mulches to encourage predatory ground beetles. Repel slugs with copper strips fastened around trunks of trees or shrubs. Encircle tend and young seedlings with a protective barrier of crushed eggshells

Good yard sanitation that eliminates daytime hiding places helps control slugs. Or, you can create hiding places that serve as traps. Simply place wet newspapers or boards in the garden. The slugs hiding underneath should be destroyed each morning.

Beer or yeast traps also are effective and easy to make. Just bury a shallow can or bowl to the rim of the container and fill it with beer or a yeast mix. Slugs are attracted to the yeast, fall in and drown. You will need to clean out the traps frequently and replenish them with beer or yeast mix.

When using commercial slug baits, apply them to cool, moist soil in protected places, like under plants. It's important to note that commercial baits are toxic to children, birds, dogs and cats that may be attracted to the product. Consider using baits containing iron phosphate. These commercial products are less injurious to pets.

Gardening techniques that help dry and warm the soil surface between plants are most effective for managing slug problems.






Summit County, Colorado

Posted on Jul 19, 2016

Mosquito Control

The best time to manage mosquitoes is when they are in the larval stage. This stage, called wrigglers, lives in shallow water and feeds on microorganisms. They can be found in used tires, wheelbarrows, birdbaths, saucers under pots, ornamental pools and other places that hold standing water. Empty or flush out containers weekly to reduce or eliminate the larvae. mosquito life cycle

The mosquito-eating fish Gambusia can be released in ponds or other areas that have year-round standing water to control mosquito larvae. Gambusia may be available from your local health department or they may know of a source. Be sure not to release Gambusia in ponds and rivers that have game fish.

Microbial insecticides such as Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis) can be effective. Bti is toxic to mosquito larvae but is not hazardous to non-target organisms. Bti may decrease midge populations and reduce fish food supply. In addition to Bti, insect growth regulators such as methoprene interrupt mosquito growth and development, preventing adult emergence. Insect growth regulators do not harm fish or other wildlife but do affect other insects and arthropods.

Use netting and screening to keep adult mosquitoes out of porches, decks and other living areas in the summer. Adult mosquito control in yards is best accomplished with pyrethroid insecticides. "Bug zappers" do not reduce mosquito populations but destroy many desirable natural insect predators. Their use is not recommended.


Growing cover crops has enjoyed a recent rise in popularity in farming as concerns about soil loss have increased. The resulting increase in organic matter from growing cover crops helps in many ways. These include an improvement in soil structure and resistance to erosion, better water penetration and holding, increased soil biological activity, better plant nutrient holding and more. Home and market vegetable gardeners should seriously consider the benefits of cover crops in their efforts.

When growing winter rye for the first time one important question is when to turn it under. Consider this question from two standpoints: 1)how to get the most benefit and least drawbacks in the burial operation, and 2) when you want to plant your vegetable crop.

Winter or cereal rye is best turned under when it is between 12 and 18 inches tall and relatively succulent. If turned under when short and still in a vegetative growth stage, there is a pronounced tendency to "grow back" meaning more work in burying plants a second time.

If left to grow until taller than 18 inches, rye enters the reproduction (flowering) stage and tends to have a high carbon to nitrogen ratio due to the high cellulose and lignin content that develops to stiffen stems. This means the plant parts you bury in the soil can be slow to decompose. Note that not only plant height but more so day length promotes flowering. Winter rye flowers when days reach 14 hours in spring.

Chop leaves into small chunks that are easy for soil microbes to attack and digest. In my small home garden plots I use a hedge shears cutting off 2 to 3 inch lengths from the top of the plant and working my way down to the soil line. You can also use a string trimmer to chop plants before incorporation into the soil. Chopping tends to minimize "grow back" because the food supply is cut off from the roots.

The second consideration in when to turn under a cover crop is when you want to plant. Allow a minimum of a month for the leaves and roots to break down before seeding or transplanting. This allows soil nitrogen availability to stabilize after being temporarily tied up by the soil microbes chewing through the freshly buried rye plants. Once broken down, soil microbes release the nitrogen they tied up making it again available to plants.

Around end of end of April is generally the time to turn under your winter cover crop if you are planning to plant warm season vegetables in late May or early June.




Summit and Eagle County, Colorado

Posted on Jul 1, 2016

Butterfly Gardens

To create a butterfly garden, you must provide a suitable habitat for an entire growing season. A butterfly garden should be insecticide free. It should include: host plants for the larvae; nectar plants for the adults; water; shelter from predators and weather; and an open area where butterflies can bask in the sun. It is important to provide the habitat on a consistent basis, so it is stable and predictable.

Butterflies lay their eggs on plants that will be a food source for growing larvae. Each species of butterfly requires specific plants for its larvae. For example, Monarch larvae feed on milkweed and black swallowtail larvae eat parsley or dill.

Adult butterflies feed on nectar from many different types of flowers. Because they sit on a flower while they sip nectar, adults prefer plants with closely butterfly gardenpacked clusters of flowers. Preferred plants include butterfly bush, lilac, yarrow, chokecherry and rabbitbrush, and daisy-type flowers such as sunflower and cosmos. Butterflies are more likely to visit flowers in a sunny location than a shady one, and to seek out fragrant flowers rather than those without a scent.

A favorite congregating spot for butterflies is an area that has moist sand or a mud puddle where they can get moisture and minerals.

Butterflies are cold blooded and fly only when temperatures rise above 60 degrees Fahrenheit. They need a place to roost on cool, cloudy or rainy days. Shrubs, tall grasses or log piles provide suitable roosting sites. A cluster of flat rocks in a sheltered area of the garden will serve as a place where butterflies can warm up on sunny days.

Vary the height of plants to suit the feeding habits of various butterflies. Leave an open area where they can fly and also be protected from gusty winds.

With a little planning and care, you can attract butterflies and their caterpillars that will add interest to a garden.

White Clover Control in Lawns

White clover flowers are visible in summer and it often appears that clover is taking over some lawns. As a nitrogen-producing legume, clover is often found and is competitive in lawns that have not been adequately fertilized with nitrogen. Regular fertilization, especially fall nitrogen applications can help reduce this weed in lawns. Herbicides applied during the summer aren't as effective as fall applications.

To obtain maximum weed control and to prevent turf injury, ensure that the clover and grass are well-watered and not stressed. Avoid making herbicide applications when temperatures are above 85 degrees F, as control may be reduced and the herbicide is more likely to volatilize and harm landscape plants and vegetables.

Spot treatment is preferable to broadcast applications with any postemergent herbicide because of the decreased potential for harming non-target plants in the landscape. As always, a healthy lawn is the best preventive against weeds like clover.

Ants & Landscape Plants

Ants are common throughout Colorado, and large numbers occur in the average landscape. Most ants are beneficial in controlling pest insects, destroying weed seeds and improving soil with their nesting habits. However, ants can cause problems when they nest in the lawn, garden or children's playground area.

Ant nests are produced underground, and colonies can contain thousands of workers. Carpenter ants are large black ants that usually construct their nests in decaying wood. Ants forage constantly during the summer months, and will chew through plant roots if their nest area is located adjacent to plants. Ants are highly adaptable in their nesting habits. You can usually find their nests by watching the movement of the ants. Although some ants build conspicuous mounds, others don't, so watching the pathway of the workers will direct you to the nest.

Ants that damage plants in the garden are sometimes associated with aphids that are feeding on the roots. Ants feed on the sweet excretion of the aphids, which protects the aphids and creates feeding tunnels in and around plant roots. Ants found climbing trees are either interested in the aphids feeding on the foliage, or the sap flowing from the tree as a result of natural causes, disease or injury. Ants are also attracted to peonies because of the sap the flower buds secrete. It's a myth that ants are necessary to permit peonies to bloom.



Summit and Eagle County, Colorado




Posted on Jun 16, 2016

Landfill & Recycling

The Summit County Resource Allocation Park (SCRAP) is a non-hazardous waste facility located at 639 Landfill Road, two miles north of Keystone, Colorado, 0.2 miles north of U.S. Highway 6. Our landfill serves all of Summit County and the surrounding area and is the only landfill in Summit County.


The SCRAP has a vibrant recycling division and a composting facility on site that produces Class I, STA-certified compost products for landscaping, gardening and many commercial applications.

Household Hazardous Waste

The SCRAP accepts household hazardous waste (e.g., paints, stains, fertilizers, cleaners) and electronics waste (e.g., TV's, computers, printers, scanners, stereo equipment) for recycling and safe disposal. Thanks to the Safety First Fund, approved by local voters in 2014, these services are free to Summit County residents and property owners. Please bring proof of residency with you.

Oil Drop Off Location

Effective 1/1/16 Please no longer drop oil, oil filters (please remove filters from packaging) and antifreeze at the public drop off yards. The only location for these items is the SCRAP, 639 Landfill Rd, Dillon.

Breckenridge Recycle Yard Moves

The Breckenridge Public Drop Off Recycling Center has moved to 284 Coyne Valley Rd. across from the CMC Campus.

Mission Statement

Summit County government manages the SCRAP as a publicly owned and operated solid waste management system for the discard, recycling, and reuse of municipal solid waste. SCRAP operates primarily as a fee-based enterprise fund, with some special-waste services supported by the Safety First Fund mill levy to protect local water quality.

Our mission is to provide accessible discard and recycle options for our community in order to maintain a clean, healthy, aesthetically pleasing mountain environment.


Summit County Resource Allocation Park produces High Country Compost, a Class 1 high-quality compost. High Country Compost is a stabilized organic material that has passed all state requirements for unrestricted use. It can be used with all plant types in any type of soil (sandy or clay). This material is screened to one-half inch to meet EPA 40 CFR 50.

We also produce a one-quarter-inch screened Top Dress product for your lawn, as well as a composted mulch product.

Home Composting

Most landfills are designed NOT to breakdown organic waste. Many people mistakenly believe that the landfill is a giant composting system. In reality, all of your leftovers and yard clippings that go into the garbage do not turn into high-nutrient soil in the landfill. Organic substances need adequate oxygen, sunlight, and beneficial microorganisms to recycle naturally into compost. Landfill conditions foster an anaerobic (oxygen-depleted) environment where decomposition of food and other waste produces methane, a greenhouse gas up to 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide. This hazardous output makes landfills the largest human-related source of methane emissions (34%) in the United States. From a climate-change perspective, composting (backyard and commercial collection) is beneficial because it stops methane production. How? In a compost pile, oxygen-dependent bacteria break down the organic material, leaving water and carbon – not methane.

Beyond its ability to stimulate plant growth and improve soil structure, compost has the remarkable power to absorb carbon emissions, too. Currently, around a quarter of the world’s carbon emissions are absorbed by the earth’s soil. However, climate change is damaging the soil’s ability to absorb carbon emissions. It seems to be a Catch 22! Compost is the answer. Compost provides an ideal environment for methanotrophic bacteria (bacteria that uses methane as carbon and energy). The EPA found that a blanket of compost on a landfill can help reduce methane emissions by as much as 100 percent! Compost can also be used to enhance the nutrients in existing soil and therefore, improve soil damaged by climate change.


Summit and Eagle County, Colorado

Posted on Jun 2, 2016

Flagstone is one of the best materials for patios primarily due to its narrow packed joints that allow water to permeate instead of running off. Flagstone patios also have a very natural, organic look due to their shape and earthy shades of browns, reds, grays and blues. The most common types of flagstone used for paving patios are sandstone, slate and limestone. Flagstone provides a durable and naturally slip-resistant patio surface that will last for years.

Benefits of a Flagstone Patio:

Natural look, Durable, Can be laid dry for a permeable surface

Moss, grass or a hardy ground cover can be grown between the stones

Rich color with natural variation

Flagstone Patio Patterns & Layout

Flagstones can be used to create a formal or informal patio. For a formal look, select cut flagstones and have them laid in a repeating pattern. For an informal look, select irregular flagstones and have them laid randomly. This informal style is often called crazy paving. Get flagstone design ideas with color tips, material match ups, steps, and more.

Random Rectangle Pattern

Selecting flagstone in a random rectangle pattern is ideal for creating a formal, organized look. The rectangle shape provides continuity in conjunction with the staggered joints that break up the monotony. When this pattern is mortared, it makes for a smooth surface for sliding chairs in and out from a dining table.

Irregular Pattern or Crazy Paving

For a more casual, organic appearance, an irregular flagstone pattern emphasizes the natural shape of the stone. Small stones or groundcover are used to fill the gaps, or it can be mortared. This layout may be more difficult to move patio furniture around on because of the rough stone edges and the series of small joints. Wide, sturdy wooden furniture is most suitable so that the chair and table legs don’t get stuck between the stones.

Popular Plants to Grow Between Flagstones

Growing plants in the small openings between flagstones will soften the look of a patio. Certain groundcovers and grasses are well suited, including these five popular types:

Various Types of Thyme, Baby Tears, Dichondra, Mint, Sedum, Moss


Small Garden

Small garden landscapes are incredibly detail-oriented. Whether the garden is gracing a condominium, a tiny bungalow, or a rooftop, there is no room for sloppy design or incompleteness. That's because what is neglected will invariably become an eyesore.

Despite their diminutive size, small gardens can also have plant palettes as varied as a larger garden. Small gardenscapes can range from quaint cottage-style designs to modern, upscale looks. To accommodate the limitations in space in a small garden, landscaping designers will often use miniature plant species, dwarf specimens and other adapted materials. A good designer doesn't scale down the same garden plan used for a palatial estate, but rather knows how to emphasize and embody the daintier dimensions of a small outdoor space.

When it comes to the design of small garden, it's important to attend to the details, design every inch, integrate surprise and splurge on materials. Whether you decide to create a very powerful and exciting small space or a modern minimalist one, a professional landscaper can help you bring your small garden to life.

Even the most disheartening small yard spaces can be made to look spacious and cozy. One of the best takeaways: When possible, create various levels in a small yard either by creating terraced "outdoor rooms" or simply by using raised planter beds.

By placeing bright, bold colors in the front of a small landscape because they catch attention first, making the rest of the yard recede and feel larger. Also, take advantage of texture in lush plantings. Large leaf plants and patio trees change the scale of a small space.


Summit and Eagle County, Colorado


Posted on May 17, 2016

Why Grow Native Trees? There are many benefits to using Colorado native trees for home and commercial landscapes. Colorado native trees are naturally adapted to their specific Colorado climate, soil, and environmental conditions. When correctly sited, they can be ideal plants for a sustainable landscape that requires reduced external inputs such as watering, fertilizing, and pruning. In order to realize these benefits, the planting site must approximate the natural environmental conditions of the plant in its native habitat.

Another benefit of using Colorado native trees in landscapes is that they attract a wide variety of wildlife including mammals, birds, and butterflies. Rapid urbanization in the state is reducing biodiversity as habitat is removed for building and road construction. Landscaping with natives on a large or small scale can maintain biodiversity that otherwise would be lost to development. If a tree is not sold in the trade, asking for it may help increase its availability. Native trees should not be collected from the wild because this reduces the biodiversity and causes a disturbed area that may be invaded by weeds. Native trees often do not have as great a visual impact in the container or immediately after planting as do traditional horticultural species. Over time, they reward the homeowner with their natural beauty and other benefits.

Where to Grow Native Trees

There are several factors to consider when designing a native landscape. Due to Colorado’s variation of elevation and topography, native plants are found in many habitats. In order to maximize survival with minimal external inputs, trees should be selected to match the site’s life zone and the plant’s moisture, light, and soil requirements. Even if a plant is listed for a particular life zone, the aspect (north, south, east, or west facing) of the proposed site should match the moisture requirement. For example, a blue spruce, which has a high moisture requirement, should not be sited with plants of dissimilar water needs. Similarly, a blue spruce should not be planted on a south-facing slope, where a significant amount of additional moisture would be required.

Growing native trees does not exclude the use of adapted non-native plants. There are many non-native plants that are adapted to Colorado’s climate and can be used in a native landscape as long as moisture, light, and soil requirements are similar. If a site has a non-native landscape that requires additional inputs (such as an irrigated landscape on the plains), dry land native plants can be used in non-irrigated pockets within the non-native landscape. These native “pocket gardens” can be located in areas such as parkways and next to hardscapes that are difficult to irrigate. Some communities regulate landscape appearance or the type of plants that may be used. So before completing a landscape design, check with local authorities, including homeowner’s associations, to discover any regulations that may affect your design.

Life Zones of Colorado

Colorado can be divided into five life zones that are broadly defined by the plant communities that occur at the approximate elevations described below. The Plains life zone, 3,500 to 5,500 feet, is located in eastern Colorado where the majority of Colorado’s population resides. It is dominated by grasslands and streamside cottonwoods. In western Colorado, the Upper Sonoran life zone is located at altitudes below 7,000 feet, and in the San Luis Valley, below 8,000 feet. This zone is characterized by semi desert shrublands and piñon pine-juniper woodlands at its upper limit. The Foothills life zone occurs from 5,500 to 8,000 feet and is dominated by dry land shrubs such as Gambel oak and mountain-mahogany, and in southern and western Colorado, piñon-juniper woodlands and sagebrush. The Montane zone consists of ponderosa pine, Douglas-fir, lodgepole pine, and aspenwoodlands at elevations of 8,000 to 9,500 feet. Dense forests of Subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce dominate the Subalpine zone at 9,500 to 11,500 feet. The Alpine zone above 11,500 feet is a treeless zone made up of grasslands called tundra. Species requiring medium to high moisture occur along watercourses throughout all zones.

Culture and Maintenance

Successful establishment of native trees require supplemental moisture for one to several years after planting. Once established, the watering frequency can be reduced or eliminated, if the plant was sited in its native environmental conditions. Container-grown trees can be planted at any time during the growing season. Container-grown native trees are often grown in a soiless mixture of peat and bark, so the planting site should be amended with some organic material. Using native trees offers many benefits in addition to reduced maintenance. Natives are part of our natural heritage, and the ecosystems of Colorado. Native plant communities make Colorado visually distinct from the eastern, southern, or western United States. Native plant gardens are wildlife habitats and each plant contributes to the biodiversity of the state.


Summit County, Colorado

Posted on May 2, 2016

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) was found in Boulder, CO, in September 2013. As a non-native insect, EAB lacks predators to keep it in check. EAB only attacks ash trees in the genus Fraxinus (so mountain ash are not susceptible).

Approximately 15% of the trees that make up Colorado's urban forest are ash. There are an estimated 98,000 in the city of Boulder alone. The Denver Metro area has an estimated 1.45 million ash trees. EAB is responsible for the death of millions of ash trees in the United States.

Help protect Colorado's ash trees! Don't move firewood, and consider chemical treatments to protect high-value ash trees within or near the EAB Quarantine area.

Where has the EAB been found?

The destructive emerald ash borer has made its first incursion into the backcountry of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where it could do serious damage to hardwood forests, according to National Park Service biologists.

The ash borer is a non-native species that was introduced from Asia and first discovered in southern Michigan in 2002. In just 10 years, the bugs have spread to 16 states and two Canadian provinces killing tens of millions of ash trees.

The emerald ash borer is a half-inch inch-long metallic green beetle that lays eggs on the bark on all species of ash trees. After hatching, the larvae burrow under the bark, and create feeding tunnels that cut off nutrient and water flow to the tree. The tree can die in three to five years.

Since 2009, officials have been monitoring for the presence of the invasive pest. Front country infestations were confirmed in June 2012 at Sugarlands Visitor Center and at the Greenbrier entrance to the Park.

An off-duty park employee discovered the backcountry infestation on an administrative trail in the Greenbrier area in early November. The employee noticed a pile of bark chips at the base of several ash trees. Signs of woodpecker activity on ash trees is an excellent indicator of an EAB infestation.

Paul Merten, a forest insect specialist from the USDA Forest Service in Asheville, NC, confirmed EAB at the site by looking under ash tree bark for feeding tunnels left by the immature beetle.

“The infestation is well established, probably two years old or older,” Merten said.

Complete eradication of EAB is not currently feasible, but Park Resource Managers are developing a management plan to maintain public safety and protect ash trees where possible. EAB and other tree pests can be transported in firewood. Park regulations prohibit bringing firewood to the Smokies from areas that have been quarantined for EAB or other destructive pests.

Emerald Ash Borer

Emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis Fairmaire, is an exotic beetle that was discovered in southeastern Michigan near Detroit in the summer of 2002. The adult beetles nibble on ash foliage but cause little damage. The larvae (the immature stage) feed on the inner bark of ash trees, disrupting the tree's ability to transport water and nutrients. Emerald ash borer probably arrived in the United States on solid wood packing material carried in cargo ships or airplanes originating in its native Asia. Emerald ash borer is also established in Windsor, Ontario, was found in Ohio in 2003, northern Indiana in 2004, northern Illinois and Maryland in 2006, western Pennsylvania and West Virginia in 2007, Wisconsin, Missouri and Virginia in the summer of 2008, Minnesota, New York, Kentucky in the spring of 2009, Iowa in the spring of 2010, Tennessee in the summer of 2010, Connecticut, Kansas, and Massachusetts in the summer of 2012, New Hampshire in the spring of 2013, North Carolina and Georgia in the summer of 2013, Colorado in the fall of 2013, New Jersey in the spring of 2014, Arkansas in the summer of 2014, and Louisiana in the winter of 2015. Since its discovery, EAB has:

Killed hundreds of millions of ash trees in North America.

Caused regulatory agencies and the USDA to enforce quarantines (Michigan, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Quebec) and fines to prevent potentially infested ash trees, logs or hardwood firewood from moving out of areas where EAB occurs.

Cost municipalities, property owners, nursery operators and forest products industries hundreds of millions of dollars.

EAB was originally detected in Colorado in the fall of 2013.  Delimitation surveys initiated in 2013 followed a scientific protocol developed by the Canadian Forest Service.  Subsequent surveys initiated in 2014, 2015 and 2016 have targeted ash trees exhibiting symptoms of decline.

Many ash trees all over the state of Colorado are in poor condition due to freeze, drought and other environmental conditions.  Ash pests such as lilac ash borer, ash bark beetle and other boring insects are much more common than EAB.

Update on EAB in Boulder County - Watch Your Ash

Watch Your Ash is a multimedia project created by graduate students at the University of Colorado providing an excellent overview of EAB detection and management in Boulder.


Summit County, Colorado