En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - High water table in Glewood Springs CO

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - March 03, 2012

From: Glenwood Springs, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Planting, Soils
Title: High water table in Glewood Springs CO
Answered by: Anne Ruggles

QUESTION:

We are considering the purchase of a home in Glenwood Springs, CO (elev. Approximately 5,000 ft) and find it strange that while neighboring properties in the subdivision have beautiful landscaping with evergreens and Aspens, not one tree or shrub has survived on this property (there are several that are dead) over the past 6 years the current homeowner has lived here. We've discovered that the property has a high water table. Is it possible to landscape the property (we would love some trees!) with anything other than native grasses? Might landscaping require soil berms? Grateful for your help, Waterlogged in CO

ANSWER:

Dear Waterlogged in Colorado;

It sounds like you might have several things to consider. The property might be in a swale so that even if there isn’t a stream, water is channeled into and collects in this area. If this is a site that merely has wet soils you will need to consider trees that like their feet wet. There are a variety of species including willows that are native to the Western Slope of Colorado and that like wet locations. Go to our Native Plant Data Base and fill in the questionnaire to generate a list of species (with photos and descriptions) that might grow on this site.

However, geologically, Glenwood Springs is also an area with many mineral and hotsprings (lucky you), thus the water may carry a variety of mineral salts that evaporate into the soil and pose a challenge to plants. You will need to find out what type of soils are present and what their condition is. 

Microsite habitat conditions can vary dramatically and will determine what will grow on a site. Knowing the slope, and aspect as well as the moisture level, soil type and condition of the soil on the site will help you to determine what native plants will grow best.

1. A good place to start is the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) which provides technical assistance to help folks care for their land. They conduct soil surveys, conservation needs assessments, and the National Resources Inventory to provide a basis for resource conservation planning activities on private lands. There is an office in Glenwood Springs.

Glenwood Springs FSC
401 23rd Street, Suite 106
Glenwood Springs, CO. 81601
(970) 945-5494
Serves Garfield and Pitkin Counties

NRCS has a web site, Web Soil Survey, that allows you to access soil surveys that have been completed.

The NRSC publication, Colorado's Soil Problems and How to Handle Them by John Pohly, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension agent, may also be helpful. It includes a section that sounds similar to your situation, “Alkali or soluble salts are another problem. This situation occurs where the water table is near the soil surface. . . . . . . “

Should you purchase this property, NRSC has online tools to help you assess the quality (soil quality is an assessment of how well soil performs all of its functions) of the soil. These tools include a series of information sheets for physical, chemical and biological indicators including a guide that will help you select appropriate soil quality indicators to assess.

2. The Colorado Extension Service  can also help with soil testing. Soil testing is a great way to evaluate salts, nutrient availability and the effects of adding composts or other amendments to the soil. Soil test kits are available at a number of sites around the state.

3.  With the information about your soils in hand then you can begin to plan what you want to plant. We have a number of tools to help. Go to the Plant Database link on our website, enter the appropriate criteria in the questionnaire and generate a list of native plants (with links to photos and information about each) that will grow in the conditions of your site.

 If you go to the Special Collections link on our web sitew you will find a list of species (with links to photos and information about each) native to Colorado. On the right side of the page you can specify a variety of criteria to narrow your search.

The Colorado Native Plant Society has compiled a list of nurseries that reliably carry native plants.  If you go to the Suppliers link on our web page you will find a listing of nurseries in your area that carry native plants.

4. Many of the articles on our How To page  will help you to plant and care for your new native plants.

 

More Soils Questions

Flowers for sunny and shady gardens in Cedar Hill TX
March 30, 2010 - Last year I spent way too much on flowers for my sunny and shady flower beds. They all died from the heat, even after constant watering. What flowers could I plant in sunny and shady flower beds that ...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants on caliche
September 03, 2004 - I have heard of sand, silt, clay, and loam, but what is caliche?
view the full question and answer

Is cement leaching into flower beds in Colorado Springs?
May 16, 2009 - I have posed this question to a number of garden centers in our area around Colorado Springs--only to rec. a repeated--"Gee, I don't know." When we moved to our new home there was a rock concrete ...
view the full question and answer

Erosion control on slope from Columbia SC
April 25, 2013 - We are in the process of having a new home built in Columbia South Carolina. Part of the front yard has a steep slope starting approximately four feet from the corner of the house and running to the ...
view the full question and answer

Landscaping help for Gilmer, TX
September 01, 2008 - We have just moved to the beautiful hot state of Texas from warm California and we need some help! Our roses are dying, we have a patch about 25ft. by 3ft. that gets the rain run off like a little str...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center