It’s Time: Prepare Your Garden for Autumn

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The kids are back in school, the nights are getting darker earlier, and the cool morning air reminds you that summer is coming to an end. It’s time to plan for a day in the garden soon, so you can prepare it for the fall. Taking a little time earlier in autumn will save you precious time in the spring when you’re ready to bring your flowers and vegetables to life again. Here are a few simple tips for making the most of a weekend in the yard and garden at the end of summer.

Prepare your lawn. Your lawn may be the most resilient part of your yard, and a little fall fertilizing will help it come back even better in the spring. Fertilize your lawn while it is still green, and as long as it remains green, continue to mow it to about a 3-inch height. Never cut your lawn too short while it’s green. Continue to water your lawn while it is green and then water it once a month in the winter if there is little snow or rain.

Pull up old vines and vegetable plants. Insects often feed on these plants in the summer and then lay eggs in the fall. Raking and pulling up old vines and leaves will prevent the insects from surviving the winter and hatching in the spring. Insect pests that feed on these plants during summer and fall often lay eggs on the old plants. If the vines are left on the soil surface, insect eggs will survive the winter and hatch in the spring.

Add some organic material to the soil of your vegetables. You can add manure, compost, peat and/or leaves in the fall and then mix this into the soil really well.

Leave some vegetables alone. Your vegetables – carrots, beets, parsnips – will do well after the ground has cooled. Put a straw mulch cover over these vegetables and let them live on. Parsnips turn even sweeter in the cooler ground.

Harvest the fall vegetables with the first light frost. Bring in your winter squash and pumpkins before the first heavy frost damages them. Cut them from the vines, leaving 3 to 4 inches of stem on the vegetable.

Pull your annuals. Fall means it’s time to say goodbye to the summer annuals. Pull your annuals and compost them if you choose. If your plants are diseased in any way, discard them in the trash so they don’t ruin your soil.

Do one more round of weed pulling. Pull your weeds in the fall or spot-spray on some of the green perennial weeds. Perennial weeds, such as dandelion or thistle are easier killed by fall spraying than summer spraying.

Keep watering trees and shrubs. Water your trees and shrubs into the winter. If there is little moisture during the winter water them every few weeks. Dry soil can kill the roots and stress the trees and shrubs. Water early in the day so the water can be absorbed before it freezes at night.

Cut back your perennials to within 1 to 2 inches of the ground and dispose of the cuttings. They may carry diseases that will survive the winter. When the weather gets colder add mulch to the soil of the perennials to keep them warmer and to ensure they don’t get stressed in thawing and cooling weather.

Anticipating our summer gardens is something a lot of us do in the winter. Make sure your ready to go when the weather warms up by taking a few steps as the weather cools down.

Things to Do with Your Family before Summer Ends

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Back-to-School time is coming soon. Don’t let summer slip by without taking part in a few summertime favorites with your kids. Some of these may even harken back to your own summer memories. Share those memories with your kids, while creating new ones.

Spend the day at a sandy beach near you. You don’t have to take a trip to Florida to get the most out of sun and sand. There are a lot of state parks, national parks and local parks that have fun beaches. Grab a pail, a shovel, some chairs, your sunscreen and a picnic lunch and make memories by the water for one last summer splash.

Play mini golf. This is the perfect after-supper activity. It’s relaxing and challenging at the same time. Kids and adults alike have fun trying to get past the windmill, down the right slope and into a hole in one!

Be a tourist for the day. Let’s face it, there are towns and historical sites that we never go to and hikes we never take because they are for the tourists. But these places provide a lot of new information about your local community and your state. And there’s a reason tourists go there – they are fun to visit. Don’t miss out on the reasons out-of-towners hit the towns!

Find a festival. Summer is about festivals and there’s a festival for everyone. Whether your family is into art, culture or funnel cakes, there’s a festival somewhere. Grab the kids, head to the Ferris wheel with cotton candy and just have some summer fun.

Camp in the backyard. Set up the tent, grill hot dogs and make s’mores – all without leaving home. There are memories to be made in your own backyard. Telling ghost stories and giggling past dark is a part of many family traditions. It could be a part of yours!

Get ice cream from the ice cream truck. Few things sound like summer as much as the songs from the ice cream truck. Don’t let it pass by this summer without stopping for a rocket pop!

Whatever you do, make the last breath of summer a memorable one for you and your family.

Unique Party Games for the 4th of July

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We’re celebrating America’s independence in just a couple of weeks. Are you ready? If you’re hosting a barbecue, you may want some ways to have some fun.  Try some of these 4th of July games to spice up your party for children and adults. These games can be played outside or inside.

Red, White and Blue Balloon Pop
Get balloons for all of the kids at your party (adults, too!). Put notes in each balloon. Put them around the party area. When the kids pop the balloons, they get the prize that’s written on the note. Make sure you have enough prizes and balloons for each kid. And if you play this with adults and kids, make sure to separate the two balloon stomps so the prizes are age-appropriate.

Uncle Sam’s Hat
Set up a special table with craft supplies – safety scissors, glue, tape, stars, glitter, construction paper, cotton balls and any other Fourth of July themed craft supplies you’d like to include. Children, teens and adults can make their own Uncle Sam hat. Wear them all day or have a parade to show them off. If you’re looking for a photo for your social media to showcase your Fourth of July holiday, people in their hats will be picture perfect.

America History Trivia
Do you have a backyard full of trivia fans? Get some U.S. history facts and divide trivia buffs into teams or play as individuals. Players can use bells or buzzers to “ring in,” and answer the questions. One person can be a designated “question asker” and another can be the score keeper, or you can take turns.

Independence Day Scavenger Hunt
Get some small Fourth of July themed objects – Liberty Bell, a small Declaration of Independence, flags, mini Uncle Sams and whatever else you can think of. Hide these items inside or outside and create clues that help your guests find them. Let kids work in teams of two or three but hide these items well!

There’s a lot of time between grilling burgers and hot dogs before the fireworks start. Don’t miss a beat. Have fun from beginning to end on this special day. 

10 Dog Hikes that Coloradans and their Best Friends Love

 


Hiker and Dog Sitting on a Rock at Ice LakeAre you and your 4-legged best friend ready to get into gear and get out into the great Colorado outdoors? Grab his leash, grab his water bottle (and yours, too), grab some plastic bags, and get going. Here are 10 of great Colorado hikes that will give you and your hiking companion a taste of what this great state has to offer. Some of these are easy, some are moderate and others strenuous, so make sure you pick the one that is right for you.

Dome Mountain Trail: A strenuous hike near Loveland that climbs to the summit of Sheep Mountain, high above the Big Thompson River and Canyon. The trail is well marked with informative signs that guide you through the plant life, erosions and interesting geology.

Rainbow Lakes Trail: A 2.5 miles out and back trail near Nederland. This hike features a lake and is recommended for hiking from June – October, and is accessible for all skill levels.

Forsythe Canyon to Waterfall and Gross Reservoir: This 2.2 mile out and back trail near Nederland features a lake and waterfall and is accessible for all skill levels. It’s shady, if you’re looking to escape the sun.

North Cheyenne Canon Park: This state park is near Colorado Springs and offers 56 miles of trails, from easy to moderate. Check out the website for a trail guide that can help you decide where to start.

Elk Meadow Park: In Evergreen, Elk Meadow Park is meets the expectations set by its name, providing a likely space to see elk. Your dogs must be leashed at all times for the safety of you, your dog, the elk and other park visitors. This park offers myriad options from easy to difficult.

Alderfer/Three Sister Park: Near Evergreen, you can hike through old stands of Ponderosa Pines, check out landmark rock formations, and view stunning vistas. This park boasts the most trails per acre of any foothills park, with over 15 miles on 1,127 acres.

Red Rocks Trail: The Red Rocks Trail outside Denver is great for a sunrise hike, if you and your dog are early risers. The park includes a cave carved into the sandstone and an interesting geological overlook.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park: Over 35 miles of trails provide something for everyone. Whether you want to spend just an hour or two or make a weekend out of it, you’re going to find stunning views and opportunities for much exercise.

Mount Falcon Park: Hike to an old castle, a lookout tower, and to a site that was intended to be the “Summer White House.” While you’re there, check out gorgeous views of Denver, Red Rocks and the mountains. Close to Denver, in Morrison, Mount Falcon offers this and more.

Three Mile Creek Trail: Be prepared to spend the day with your best friend. This hike, outside of Bailey, is 14-mile trail through a dense deciduous and conifer forest. You’ll cross over a shallow stream several times.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for all Colorado has to offer for hiking. This dog-friendly state makes it easy for you and your best friend to spend time together in the great outdoors. Check out more hikes here and read how to keep you and your dog safe. And have a favorite hike that you and your best friend take? Let us know!

Colorado’s Best Wildflower Hikes

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If you’re new to Colorado (or even if you’ve been here a while), you may not realize that our states is not only home to gorgeous mountains housing icy blue lakes and rivers, but Colorado is also home to some of the most awe-inspiring wildflowers. Spring, summer and even early fall in Colorado are all about the colors of these oft-forgotten gems.

When the wildflowers start popping up, it’s time for you to start planning your hikes. Here some Colorado favorites that are close to home and some that give you a reason to get away for a weekend.

Littleton, Chatfield Farms, Denver Botanic Gardens, Peak bloom May – August
Belvue, Lory State Park, Peak bloom late May – June
Fort Collins, Cathy Fromee Prairie Natural Area, Peak bloom, June
Leadville, Mayflower Gulch, Peak bloom, Late May – July
Crested Butte, Multiple Locations – Check out their annual Wildflower Festival, Peak bloom, Late May – October
Durango, Engineer Mountain Trail, Peak bloom, July – August
Nederland, Hessie Trailhead, Peak bloom, July
Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, Peak bloom, April – July
Aspen, Hunter Creek Valley, Peak bloom, Mid July
Estes Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Peak bloom, June – July

Whether you want to stay close to home, take a day trip, or go for a weekend, surely these ideas have given you reason to lace up your hiking shoes and get out into the wild.