The invasive Thistle and how to mitigate

Thistle is classified as a noxious weed and falls under the Colorado list B species.

What does this mean for you the property owner?

Noxious weed species on lists A, B or C are incorporated into a plan with state noxious weed advisory committees, state governments and other interested parties - to develop and implement management plans to stop the continued spread of these species.

Two types of thistle are list B classifications in Colorado


The Musk Thistle Carduus nutans L.


The Canada Thistle Cirsium arvense (L.) Scop.

The Musk Thistle is a prolific seed producer, Musk thistle can produce up to 20,000 seeds per plant, only one-third being viable. Because Musk thistle reproduces solely from seed, the key for successful management of this noxious weed is to prevent seed production. The Eagle County weed control plan is “Elimination” of this weed by 2020. This thistle forms a dense monoculture by out competing native grasses and plants. It thrives in disturbed habitats where resources are limited and native plants cannot establish or grow as well. Once it establishes itself, it can easily spread with each flower head producing up to 1200 seeds that may last in the soil up to ten years.

The Canada thistle Eagle county noxious weed plan is "Suppression" where the goal is to reduce the vigor of noxious weed populations within an infested region, decreasing its spread to surrounding lands, and mitigating the negative effects of the canada thistle population on infested lands. Suppression efforts may employ a wide variety of integrated management techniques.

What is your responsibility as a property owner if you find these Noxious weeds on your property?

Noxious weeds threaten valuable wildlife habitat and natural resources, cause economic hardships to agricultural producers, and are a nuisance for recreational activities.

The Noxious Weed Act requires all Colorado residents to control noxious weeds using integrated methods to manage the noxious weeds if they are likely to be materially damaging to the land of neighboring landowners.

Reference this portal for more information on the Noxious Weed Act and management plan information

How can you eliminate these weeds from your property?

Musk thistle mitigation

Musk thistle will not tolerate tillage, it can be removed easily by severing its root below ground with a shovel or hoe. Mowing can effectively reduce seed output if plants are cut when the head is in the late-flowering stage. Gather and burn mowed debris to destroy any seeds that have developed.

Canada Thistle Mitigation

Fill an empty spray bottle with vinegar. Do not dilute the vinegar with water

  1. Cut the stem of each thistle plant with a knife.

  2. Spray one to two sprays of vinegar directly on the cut of each thistle plant.

  3. Sprinkle a pinch of salt at the base of each plant.

To eliminate Canada thistle you must injure and exhaust its root system, and do it repeatedly. A successful control program requires multiple seasons, and multiple treatments within a season.

Firstly mowing timed for bud to early-bloom stage and mowing as low to the ground as possible.

Then fall herbicide treatment with Vinegar and salt at the base of the plants is ideal.

These steps may be required for several seasons to fully eliminate this species.

For further information and to protect the beautiful open space in Colorado contact your County weed control program manager for information regarding your local weed management program.

Conserve water in your Garden

Water Efficient Landscaping

This blog is to provide you with some food for thought on

how you can move toward a more efficient and sustainable use of water in your garden

and outdoor landscape.

Being water wise does not mean you need to turn your garden

into a Xeriscape. It means that you become water wise and make some smart choices

with what are you planting and watering in your landscape to ensure it is sustainable

and reduces your need to use extensive water resources.

Xeriscape is a combination of

seven common-sense gardening principles that save water, time and resources while

creating a beautiful landscape that has renewable water properties and requires much

lower use of our limited water resources..

The Seven Principles of Xeriscape are:

  1. Plan and Design. - plan your landscape change in achievable phases that are realistic for your budget and will allow your landscape the opportunity to grow and mature in phases rather than all at once. incorporate into your design smart water systems such as grey water and smart irrigation.

  1. Create Practical Turf Areasof manageable size, shape and grade.

  2. Select Low-Water Plants... and group them according to their water needs. This is also known as hydrozoning. Then experiment to determine how much and how often to water.

  3. Use Soil Amendments... as you plant. Compost is the best choice.

  4. Use Mulches... like wood chips or cobble rock to reduce evaporation and to keep the soil cool.

  5. Irrigate Efficientlywith properly designed systems (including hose-end equipment) and by applying the right amount of water at the right time.

  6. Maintain the Landscape Properly... by mowing, weeding, pruning and fertilizing properly.

Read More

Sustainable Landscaping

What is sustainable landscaping?

Sustainable landscaping is a concept of using design, construction and maintenance that encompasses ecologically sound practices to use your landscape like a mini watershed. This would include retaining and cleaning storm water, conserving water and establishing healthy plan and wildlife habitat.

Sustainable landscapes save water, time and money. Generally a sustainable garden landscape will require significantly less water than a traditional landscape, produce less green waste and fewer maintenance hours. How can this not seem like the attractive option us Coloradans want to follow??!!

The east coast traditional green lawn landscape is simply not the ideal sustainable landscape in western states with dry climate and less precipitation per year than our East Coast regions. Selecting climate appropriate plants helps ensure they will thrive in the landscape and require minimal ongoing replacement costs. Load up your garden with hardy high altitude plants like Mountain Zinnia, Cosmos, Penstemon, Hollyhock, Osteo’s and Geraniums as a starting point toward a sustainable Colorado garden.


Sustainable practices as you consider and work toward adjusting your home landscape can include many small yet effective practices to reduce water consumption, energy waste and green waste.

The small changes you can make as an individual include -

Hand pruning, use of manual powered maintenance equipment and the elimination of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides are a few things you can work to change without economic impacts and a little extra manual effort.

Some regions (check on this as you work toward a sustainable landscape allow keeping storm and gray water onsite to provide water for your landscape. This leads to cleaner waterways and oceans, protects wildlife and allows for groundwater recharging.

One of the single most important concepts in establishing a sustainable landscape is ensuring you follow the three basic principles below


Choose your plants strategically, specific to your Colorado landscape. Ensure you plant Colorado natives such as Pontentilla, Three Leaf Sumac, Blue Spruce’s and Bristlecone Pine as the base to your landscape. These climate adapted plants will additionally provide habitat for pollinators, insects and birds.

Then add some color with flowering plants carefully, being mindful to have early, mid and late flowering perennials for flowers all summer season. Mingle Zinnia, Cosmos, Coneflowers, Columbine, hardy Marigold, Bergamot, Oswego tea, Speedwells and Ivy/Geranium Ivy for a full blooming garden all summer long.

See the link below for great flower choices in mountain communities that provide beauty and sustainability

Choose non invasive plants that will not spread aggressively and can cause ecological damage. The USDA has an updated and comprehensive listing of Colorado invasive species located there

As a business owner Mountain Organic Landscaping strives to beautify your garden with the right plant, right place, right time philosophy. We ensure there are no synthetic fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides entering the landscape and eventually our water source by practicing a fully organic landscaping mindset. Please comment or contact us at with further questions.

Colorado Water Law and the landscaping / irrigation business role in sustainability

Welcome to a multi-part blog about Colorado Water, our water laws and how businesses and community members can help in making our community landscapes more sustainable.

As a member of a Colorado community you should be aware and know about the Colorado Water Law.

This law includes some fundamental and common sense principles that we should embrace and be cognizant of.

  1. All water use in Colorado must be reasonable and beneficial and cannot be wasted.

  2. Irrigation can be classified as a beneficial water use

  3. Reasonable use varies as the current situation changes e.g. drought may influence the amount of irrigation permitted in communities to ensure the water use is reasonable.

Colorado has a Water Plan which is a way to implement a plan to meet the state’s water needs and challenges.

How can you help Colorado continue to implement its Water Plan that was finalized in 2015?

Start by replacing old faucets, showerheads, toilets with WaterSense labelled products.

The WaterSense Program is a label for water efficient products and resources for saving water

Look for this label on products you are purchasing

Look for this label on products you are purchasing

Additional valuable resources in educating yourself about water include -

Alliance for water efficiency - a non profit organisation dedicated to efficient and sustainable use of water. This organisation advocates for water efficient products and programs and assists in water conservation efforts.

And finally Colorado Waterwise is an organisation that provides resources to the Colorado water conservation community

As a residential community member what can you do to assist Colorado with water conservation while enjoying the beauty of a garden landscape and place to view our great state?

  1. Use weather based irrigation controllers

  2. Use high efficiency irrigation components

  3. Buy WaterSense toilets and clothes washers.

Next Blog will cover Sustainable Landscaping, stay tuned….

More Tea Please...

Next time you are buying that delicious large refreshing Iced Chai Tea form your local Coffee/Tea house take a moment to think about how much your summer garden would love to absorb a similar treat.  Compost tea is a great early summer supplement for your garden and cheaper by the ounce than your $5 ice chai tea.

Your garden needs tea too - compost tea that is.  It is a liquid formula created by a process of combining good quality compost, water, aeration and a compost catalyst into a succulent foamy brew filled with nutrients, bacteria, fungi, nematodes and protozoans that are going to do their work on your plants.  Compost tea feeds your plants through the roots (via the soil around the plants) and leaves via (foliar absorption), without the constant build up of chemicals and salt that synthetic fertilizers cause in your garden soil.

The compost tea is applied to the soil before planting including directly into the hole for your new or transplanted plants, then applied every 2 weeks once the plant has established itself in its new location.  Use a spray bottle and/or watering can for watering the soil and leaves for foliar and root absorption.  the application process should include about 4-6 applications and be completed by mid July (in the northern hemisphere).  If you allow the plant too much of a good thing it will expend all its energy creating thick foliage and may nor produce its final fruits.  4-6 applications will give the plant the source it needs to build strong roots and stems, beautiful foliage and then fruit.

Contact us at to ask about our compost tea and if it would be a great addition to your landscape maintenance plan.

Round Up, Monsanto and Glyphosate are in hot water again

Yet another LARGE sum lawsuit has been held up against Monsanto and it’s big seller Round Up. More and more research is being put into human interaction with Round Up as the number of national and international lawsuits is brought against Monsanto.

As the science world is gaining more traction about toxins and the environment, researchers have been focusing on how Glyphosate effects our bee populations. Without our pollinators, our food sources will be greatly jeopardized.

Stonyfield Yogurt- a positive business with great information

Stonyfield Farms- A company that makes delicious yogurt, they are supporting toxin free playgrounds across the country and is providing some really great user friendly information. The downfall- Stonyfield yogurt comes in a plastic container :-(, although the container can be reused. Check out Stonyfield’s great website:

We are out of drought, but that doesn't mean leave the faucet on...

Thanks to a normal winter and southern Colorado coming on strong the second half of the season, 99% of Colorado is officially out of drought. Last winter we were encouraging clients to water newly planted trees every few weeks to reduce the likelihood of mortality. This season, we will start spring with healthy trees, plants and grass. After an extremely low native food season, our local wildlife is thriving as well (note the large Rocky Mountain Sheep herd that is grazing in East Vail). As exciting as that is, it doesn’t mean we can go crazy with water use this coming summer. Stand by as we watch the weather and hope that Mother Nature keeps sending us vital precipitation.

As always, we encourage our friends and clients to conserve water when ever possible. Here are a few easy water saving methods:

Turn the faucet while brushing teeth

Put a jug of water in the fridge so you always have cold water available

Repair any leaks immediately