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Thu Koelling



Skill Set


Project Size

750 - 1,000 sq ft

Project Location

Front yard

Sun Exposure

Full sun

Year Completed


Time Commitment

More than 40 hours of labor

Project Cost

less than $500

Other Project Elements

Native or drought-tolerant plants

Resource Central Programs

Garden In A Box, Lawn Removal Service

Professional Help


Advice from the Owner

The happy pollinators and beneficial insects make me happy. I love that the garden changes through the seasons. Fall planting works! The garden doesn't need as much water as the grass that it replaced. Once the plants got established, most of them could survive on rain water. For the ones that looked thirsty, I would water them every three to five days depending on how hot the weather was.

The clay in the "soil" really slowed down progress. The online videos made planting look so easy when the soil was perfect. I spent a lot of time removing clay and rocks from the dirt piles. A trick I learned was to put the clay chunks into the super strong plastic bags from a grocery store as I was sorting through the dirt, instead of picking them up later. I used big rocks that I found to border the garden.

I learned that mulch won't suffocate weeds; I needed to pull them out before I put down the mulch. It's worth removing spent blooms to get more flowers.

My neighbors have been great. They were supportive while I was working on the garden, and are appreciative of how the garden has turned out.

I’ve been a fan of live plants for decades. At one point, I wanted to grow my own food. I just wasn’t good at keeping plants alive. When I moved to Colorado, I discovered that the plants that can survive Colorado’s environment, could survive me. It’s been really encouraging to see the plants not just survive, but thrive. I have some plants that didn't make it, so I'm going to propagate some plants to fill in the empty spots.

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