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Nurturing Nature: A Guide to Green Spaces and Community Gardens in Denver and Boulder 

As many Coloradans know, an effective cure-all for mental – and at times, physical – ailments is a few moments spent outdoors in the fresh air and abundant sunshine. This is no coincidence, as time spent in nature is scientifically proven to improve emotional and physical well-being. However, an increasing reliance on technology and a desire to live and work in urban areas has effectively minimized the time that humans spend outdoors in nature. Although Colorado maintains a reputation for being one of the most adventurous states in America, nearly 86% of the state’s population resides in urban areas according to 2020 census data.  


Without uprooting to Colorado’s mountain towns for easy access to the outdoors or spending the workweek waiting for weekend adventures, there is another way that this state’s population can take advantage of nature’s health benefits: discovering a local connection to nature through green spaces and personal and community gardens.  

create your own Colorado garden 


There is no denying that gardening in Colorado poses significant challenges. A high elevation, intense sunshine and low humidity create uncontrollable factors that can prevent a Colorado garden from becoming the cottagecore retreat of dreams. Limiting factors aside, there are ample tricks and resources to creating an outdoor retreat without sacrificing abundant plant life. 


To start small, a patio or container garden introduces flexibility for rentals or homes with a limited square footage while also offering easier maintenance. Local plant shops, such as Terracotta in Boulder, provide a vast selection of pots and containers in a variety of sizes. Start by measuring your dedicated patio garden space to determine how many containers can comfortably fit or reach out to a local woodworker to create a custom planter box for a stylish container that perfectly suits the area. Next, determine the hours of sunlight that your patio or balcony space receives; this will determine what can live and thrive in your outdoor space. South-facing areas receive the most sunshine but risk scorching and poor water retention for potted plants, while north-facing spaces are suitable for shade-loving greenery.  


Container veggie gardens are a great option for patios and balconies as they can be closely monitored for moisture and sunshine needs. Ideal container varieties of garden vegetables include: leafy greens, such as kale, arugula and spinach; dwarf tomatoes varieties and cherry tomatoes; and bush varieties of vining plants such as Astia zucchini from local seed producer, Renee’s Garden. If floral containers are more aligned with your aesthetic, consider low-maintenance varieties that are easy to start from seed, like zinnias and cosmos. With time and attention, any balcony or patio garden can flourish into a green space within the comfort of your home. 


With more space to garden in bigger areas like backyards, the options are truly endless; yet, starting from scratch can be overwhelming. Although the opportunity to create gorgeous vegetable gardens is tempting, we suggest planting native species and perennial plants for seasonal interest that comes back year after year. Resource Central is a local Colorado organization that sells waterwise perennial plants through their Garden in a Box program. These plants are carefully selected for their drought tolerance and pollinator friendliness with generous options based on location and sun exposure. Each Garden in a Box comes with a planting and maintenance guide to transform water-hungry lawns or bare patches into thriving oases for birds, bees and, of course, humans.  


For anyone looking to transform their backyard space, it is tempting to tackle every gardening project as a DIY. However, the Front Range is home to an arsenal of talented gardening professionals and landscaping companies that can create customized backyard havens specific to your location, hardiness zone and personal preferences. 


you may also like: get the word on water-wise landscaping for dry climates 

join a community garden in Colorado 


Community gardens are spaces where individuals come together to grow food and foster sustainability. These gardens promote environmental stewardship by reducing food miles, fostering biodiversity and encouraging composting practices. Additionally, they serve as hubs for community engagement, providing platforms for shared learning, intergenerational interaction and social events.  


In Denver, residents have abundant opportunities to engage in community gardening through organizations like Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), the largest independent network of its kind in the United States. DUG provides vital support and resources to aspiring gardeners, facilitating the establishment and maintenance of community gardens across the city. Through DUG’s network, individuals and groups can access educational programs, gardening workshops and technical assistance to help them navigate the intricacies of sustainable gardening practices. 


By participating in DUG-managed community gardens, Denver residents can not only grow fresh, healthy food but also contribute to broader sustainability initiatives within their neighborhoods. Moreover, DUG’s emphasis on inclusivity ensures that community gardens are accessible to people of all backgrounds and abilities, promoting equity and social justice in urban food systems. 


Boulder residents have just as much opportunity to build community through gardening through Growing Gardens, an organization dedicated to empowering individuals and neighborhoods through gardening initiatives. Much like Denver Urban Gardens, Growing Gardens serves as a catalyst for community engagement and environmental stewardship, offering resources, support and educational programs to gardeners of all skill levels. 


Through Growing Gardens, Boulder residents can participate in a variety of community gardening projects, including neighborhood-based gardens, school gardens and therapeutic gardening programs. These initiatives provide spaces for residents to come together, share knowledge and work collaboratively toward common goals, strengthening bonds within the community. By fostering connections between individuals, families and local organizations, Growing Gardens promotes a sense of belonging and collective ownership of shared green spaces. 

explore nearby green spaces in Denver and Boulder 


Without a doubt, residency in Colorado provides the population with abundant opportunities to relish in nature through public green spaces, botanical gardens and nature trails. From the majestic peaks of the Rocky Mountains to the serene beauty of the Great Plains, Colorado’s diverse landscapes offer something for everyone to enjoy. 


Public green spaces such as city parks, state parks and national forests provide accessible and inclusive environments for people of all ages and backgrounds to connect with nature. Whether it’s picnicking in a neighborhood park, hiking through a pristine wilderness area or camping beneath the stars, these spaces offer endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and relaxation. In cities like Denver and Boulder, expansive urban parks such as City Park and Chautauqua Park provide residents with convenient escapes from the hustle and bustle of daily life, while also serving as hubs for community gatherings and cultural events. 


Moreover, botanical gardens like Denver Botanic Gardens offer visitors the chance to explore a diverse array of plant species from around the world, showcasing the beauty and importance of botanical diversity. In addition to public green spaces and botanical gardens, Colorado boasts an extensive network of nature trails that wind through some of the state’s most breathtaking landscapes just moments from your front door. 


Overall, Colorado’s public green spaces, botanical gardens, and ample gardening organizations play a vital role in enhancing the quality of life for residents and visitors alike, providing opportunities for recreation, relaxation and reflection in the midst of some of the most spectacular scenery on Earth. 


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