Edible landscape in Colorado

Hi! This is my first post, though I’ve been reading for a while. I have a newly landscaped yard in Colorado, Zone 5 north of Denver. Soil is clay and very poorly draining ( I learned this the hard way, after drowning quite a few of my shrubs.) We had a full truckload of compost brought in and tilled into the first 6 inches or so throughout the whole yard, and I am also ammending each hole, in addition to planting everything high. Since I was starting from scratch, I’ve decided to try to incorporate many plants with edible fruit into my perrennials. So far, I have a dwarf stanley plum, contender peach, 3 urban apples (tasty red, golden treat, tangy green), Autumn brilliance serviceberry, north star cherry, and two apples in the same hole with which I’m going to attempt Dave Wilson Backyard Orchard culture (empire and snowsweet.) I’m also considering a chestnut crabapple. For shrubs, I have a juliet cherry, Jostaberry, Viking aronia, Red Lake currant, Two gooseberries (pixwell and can’t remember the other,) yellow flowering currants, and one honeyberry (the other died- am planning on ordering another.)

I am considering attempting to grow goumis, though I haven’t found anything about them being successful here. We have terrible springs with a large amount of freeze/thaw, so I don’t know if thats why they aren’t grown here? Or perhaps they are just unknown here. Anyone have any experience with them in a similar climate? What about autumn olive?

Thank you so much for all the great info on this forum. I’ve learned so much already!


Hi Sam, welcome to the GF. I’m just south of you so I’m looking forward to updates as your yard progresses. We used to live in east Denver, where if you dig a hole and fill it with water, the water may still be there an hour later. I’d recommend seeking out free mulch and start deep mulching the trees. Your worst enemies will be late frosts and hail. Fortunately we live in a fruit friendly climate…low humility and plenty of sunshine to keep those pests and diseases away!

Goumi does great here, I definitely would plan for water management and conservation. I think everything you have should work you should give the serviceberries to your birds or plan a way to fight them off ala kitties and dogs. I wouldnt do two apples in the same hole as that makes water even more of an issue i would just plant them spaced how you need and summer prune accordingly. I would make sure your apples are fireblight resistant. Im a big fan of honeyberries but something eats mine super unripe and will plan on early covering. You dont need a crabapple unless you want it for eating there are tons around that are no spray and organic in your neighborhood. Some eleagnus like russian olive are very bad for our soils and will take out more water than salt and mess up your soil. We have good soil if it is properly cared for. Our rough temp swings can take out some trees and will cause a bit of tip dessication and winter death make sure to winter water when neccessary and try not to get too discouraged.
Good luck

goumis are doable in your environment. they are drought tolerant once established. they grow well here but winter of 2018 killed them to the ground in my zone. they came back quickly and probably fruit this season. try crandall currant. native to your area and a nice looking bush with big berries.

Thanks so much for the replies! DanCO, I’ll have to look up deep mulching. do you mean just adding thick mulch to the surface? or do you actually mix it down? I’m not new to Colorado, so I definitely know about the late frosts and hail, but my previous yard in Loveland was much more protected. When I did a hole and fill it with water the water is still sitting there 3 days later! It’s insane. I’ve never imagined it could be so bad. Luckily, I rarely ever have to water. I know now to ALWAYS check before adding more water to a plant. I’m hoping once things get established, they’ll be more forgiving. My fruits that I put in last summer all seemed to make it through the winter (except perhaps the serviceberry- still waiting on that one since I tried drowning it for a while last summer.)
Richardroundtree- Thanks for the input! The apples that I got are listed as resistant and very resistant to fireblight. I learned about it the hard way at my last house. the neighbors had a GIANT old apple tree that was loaded with fireblight. I lost my apple tree, sand cherries, mountain ash, and was batting it on pretty much anything that was susceptible. They finally cut it down (because half of it fell, narrowly missing the neighbors garage!) but we moved shortly after. I think I might give the goumis a try. I was thinking of the chestnut crab for eating. I have three kids and we NEVER have enough apples, and I thought those might be a perfect size for them. I’m between that and a Toka plum, which I’ve read will pollinate with nanking cherry.

I do have crandall currants and love them. they are flowering like crazy right now, so hopefully I’ll get some fruit this year.

Thanks again!

1 Like