What We Do

Tallgrass Landscape and Construction focuses on residential landscape installations, exterior construction and refurbishment projects.

We're located in the beautiful Grand Valley of Western Colorado and servicing the communities of Fruita, Grand Junction and Palisade, and we love to integrate local and native plants and materials into yards and landscapes.

Our mission is to assist our customers in realizing their ultimate outdoor environment, whatever that may be.  Their vision is our guiding light, our purpose is to help guide them along an affordable, achievable path, using our knowledge and effort to achieve their vision.

 

Stephen Kurtenbach, Owner/Founder

Stephen Kurtenbach, Owner/Founder

 

If you are interested in any of services that Tallgrass Landscape offers,  or would like to schedule time to visit about your needs, please fill out the form below and I will get back to you shortly.

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Landscaping is more that just a yard...

Landscaping is the beautification of out door terrain which is mainly comprised of exterior works and gardening in both residential and non-residential buildings and parks-- through the process of planting trees, flowers, shrubs, grasses, water fountains, as well as the planning and construction of curbs, walkways, pavements and drainage.

Landscaping is a blend of art and science.

It  requires expertise in horticulture and artistic design, and the skill sets to blend them together in harmony. Construction requires study, observation and appropriate technique. It is not the same in different parts of the world. Landscaping varies according to different regions. Western Colorado provides a unique blend of challenges.  It makes sense if you're new to the area to look to local experts attuned to the nature and flora of our area, especially if you're landscaping for the first time. Understanding of the site is one of the chief essentials for successful landscaping. Different natural features like terrain, topography, soil qualities, prevailing winds, depth of the frost line, and the system of native flora and fauna must be taken into account. (Deer love everything you purchase and plant by the way). Sometimes the land is not fit for landscaping.  In order to landscape it, the land must be reshaped. This reshaping of land is called grading.

Removal of earth from the land is called cutting, while when earth is added to the slope, it is called filling. Sometimes the grading process may involve removal of excessive waste, soil and rocks, as well as drainage concerns--so designers should take all of these things into account while in the planning stage.

Tools of the trade...

In the start, the landscaping contractor creates a rough design and layout using letters and colored pencils to indicate what could be done with the land in order to achieve the desired outcome. Landscaping has become more technological than natural, as few projects begin without bulldozers, lawnmowers, or chainsaws. Different areas have different qualities of plants. Fertilizers are required for this purpose in excess amounts as natural landscaping is done. Some landscapers prefer to use Mix gravel with rocks of varying sizes to add interest in large areas.

 

Xeriscaping

As much a philosophy as a design style, Xeriscaping was originally developed for drought-afflicted areas; the tenets of xeriscape today continue to have an ever broadening appeal.  With water now considered an expensive and limited resource, all construction and landscaping projects, residential or commercial, can benefit and thrive from this method of landscape planning and development.

While some consider rock and gravel a Xeriscape, the truth is, they do not have a single look – nearly any landscaping style, look and feel can be achieved and adapted using these techniques. The principles can and should be applied to part or all of a yard and homeowners can utilize it in any geographic area of North America, and as such is especially useful here in the Grand Valley.  The folks at Eartheasy have identified some key tenets and benefits that you can expect by applying xeric landscaping principles to your outdoor environment.            

Key Benefits of Xeric Landscaping

• Saves Water.  Like it or not in North America over 50% of residential water is applied to lawns and landscape.  Xeriscape can reduce this water use by 50 - 75%.

• Improves Property Value.  A good Xeric landscape can raise property values which more than offset the cost of installation.  It provides a pleasant environment that also says “low maintenance”.  Protect your landscape investment by drought-proofing it.

• Uses No Fertilizers or Pesticides.  By using native plants, you will eliminate the need for chemical supplements.  A healthy organic soil will provide sufficient nutrients.

• Requires Less Maintenance--both time and money.  Outside the occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is typically minimal.  Watering needs are low, and can be met with standard irrigation systems, plus overall cost of these low-water-use systems can be lower.

• Pollution Free.  The smell and sound of gas mowers can be dramatically reduced, with small turf areas use mainly as accents of color and lushness, or for the feel of grass underfoot for dogs and children.   These miniature turf areas can be maintained with a reel or electric mower.

• Provides Wildlife Habitat. Use of native plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife, birds and butterflies.

Xeriscaping Grand Junction Tallgrass

Seven Principles of Xeric Landscaping

1. Water Conservation. 

The fundamental element of Xeric landscape design is water conservation. Landscape designers constantly look for ways to reduce the amount of costly applied water and to maximize the use of natural precipitation.

Before setting pencil to paper, familiarize yourself with the Seven Principles of Xeriscaping and take a tour of your local nurseries to see what drought-resistant plantings are available locally.  A good way to begin is to use 1/4" graph paper, and using 1/4" = 1 ft, draw an aerial view of your property and begin your plan with the following considerations:

 • Start by orienting the land by marking down north, south, east and west on the paper. Include any limiting features such as trees, fences, walkways or structures, power poles, etc.  Also note the areas of sun and shade, which will help you establish zones of differing water needs as well as sun exposure.  It helps to group plants with similar watering needs for most efficient water use, for example, shrubs that need water once a week for 30 minutes.

 • Study the natural contours and drainage patterns of the land. These contours can be easily developed into terraces, which add visual interest and help reduce soil loss and erosion due to rain or irrigation.  Terraces can be as little as 3" and still offer visual appeal; terraces over 12" will require considerable support, such as rock walls or timbers reinforced with steel stakes.

• Consider the planned use of each area within the plot. Are there some areas for seating, walkways, visual barriers, dining or play--all should be defined and incorporated into your plan. These can be cloud-like areas on your map, just to note the usage.

• Areas to be left as turf should be designed to be accessible and easily mowed. Curved swaths are usually better than straight runs with sharp turns. From a watering standpoint, narrow swaths can be difficult and wasteful to water with conventional sprinklers.

• Larger plantings, such as shrubs and trees, can be positioned to provide natural heating and cooling opportunities for adjacent buildings.

 

2. Soil Improvement.

The ideal soil in a water-conserving landscape does two things simultaneously: it drains quickly and stores water at the same time.  This is typically achieved by increasing the amount of organic material in your soil and keeping it well aerated.  Compost is the ideal organic additive, unless your xeriscape contains many succulents and cacti. These species prefer lean soil.

We suggest you begin your project buy having your soil tested at a garden center or by using a home test kit.  Most Western US soils tend to be alkaline (high pH) and low in phosphorous.  Adding bone-meal and rock phosphate can help.

 

3. Create Limited Turf Areas

Depending on where you are from, the standard lawns is a Kentucky Blue Grass, water hungry lawn. Consider reducing the size of turf areas as much as possible, while retaining some turf for open space, functionality and visual appeal.  When planting new turf, or reseeding existing lawns, ask at your garden center for water-saving species adapted to this area.

 

4. Use Appropriate Plants

For best results, select plants that are native to your region.

• Use drought-resistant, or tolerant plants. In general, these plants have leaves which are small, thick, glossy, silver-grey or fuzzy - all characteristics which help them save water in a dry climate.

•Select plants for their ultimate size. This reduces pruning maintenance. They may seem small in a 1- 5 Gallon container, but they will grow larger, so plan for the future.

• For hot, dry areas with southern and western exposures, use plants which need only a minimum of water. Along north and east-facing slopes and walls, choose plants that like more moisture, and don't need as much full sun. Most importantly, don't mix plants with high and low-watering needs in the same planting area.

• Trees help to reduce evaporation by blocking wind and shading the soil. Plant now, because years down the road you'll be glad you did.

 

5. Mulch

Cover the soil's surface around plants with a mulch, such as leaves, coarse compost, pine needles, wood chips, bark or gravel.  Mulch helps retain soil moisture and temperature, prevent erosion and blocks out competing weeds.  Organic mulch will slowly incorporate with the soil, and will need more applied, "top-dressed", from time to time.  To be effective, mulch needs to be several inches thick.  There should be no areas of bare soil.

 

6. Irrigate

Water conservation is the goal, so avoid overwatering.  Soaker hoses and drip-irrigation systems offer the easiest and most efficient watering for xeriscapes because they deliver water directly to the base of the plant.  This reduces moisture loss from evaporation.  They also deliver the water at a slow rate which encourages root absorption and reduces pooling and erosion. In general, it's best to water deeply and less frequently. 

 

7. Maintain your landscape

Low-maintenance is one of the benefits of Xeriscaping.  Keeping the weeds from growing up through the mulch may require some attention.  Thickening the layer of mulch will help.  Turf areas should not be cut too short - taller grass is a natural mulch which shades the roots and helps retain moisture. Avoid over-fertilizing. Ideally, you should be able to enjoy more time relaxing in your yard, and less time taking care of it.

Outdoor Living

 

Outdoor living means just what is says. You're living out of doors part of the time. Food, shelter, privacy, comfort. Relaxed surroundings, hot tubs, Bar-B-Qs, fire pits, lighting.  What ever you want or need for family time or entertaining when your not indoors. 

Outdoor Living space Grand Junction TallgrassLC
 

Custom Sprinkler Systems...

No yard is the same

In Western Colorado automatic sprinkler systems are very normal and common in any neighborhood.  However, that doesn’t mean they’re easy to understand, operate or maintain.  Refer to definitions and explanations below (and the following links to the Rainbird website to learn more) as they will help you to understand the basics of residential irrigation operation.  If you’re experiencing more complex issues like low/high pressure, pump cavitation, sticking valves, etc.,  then maybe a call to Tallgrass or another knowledgeable and reputable irrigation contractor is warranted. Feel free to call us at 970-261-2408.

These are the basic components of a residential irrigation sprinkler system.   Design standards and techniques aside, the information below will help you understand the individual components of the irrigation system and the functions they perform.


Where does your water come from?
Familiarize yourself with where the water comes from for your irrigation system.  In Western Colorado much of our irrigation water (also commonly called “dirty water”) comes from the Grand Mesa via the Colorado River and our extensive canal system.  However not all homes have access to dirty water so clean residential water from the city system must be used.  There are many pro’s and con’s to each, the biggest difference is dirty water is inexpensive and clean water is comparatively expensive.  If you have access to irrigation water, use it. However, the trade off for lower water cost is that the parts for your dirty water system will be more expensive in order to handle the dirt and sediment in the "ditch water" --but that cost is quickly earned back by not paying for expensive city water every time you water your lawn. 

 

*Many areas are now using recycled or “reclaimed” water for the purpose of watering turf grasses and landscaped areas.  It’s not super common yet but the concept is gaining popularity and well worth exploring. 

There are a few things to understand about city water while we’re on the subject.  There most likely will be a back-flow prevention device, typically near the water meter itself but not always.  They are usually at least 12″ off the ground and are made of bronze.  In the winter this is also where you would turn off the water for your sprinklers and where winter prep maintenance (sprinkler system blowouts) will usually take place. In the spring you turn they system back on here as well.

If you aren’t on city water then you will likely have a pump and use irrigation water.  Some areas or developments have a large pumping station that delivers water to the entire subdivision which provides enough pressure that an individual pump isn’t needed.  Others provide the water but not enough pressure to drive the water through the heads properly, this is when a pump is needed.  Pumps in this area typically pull water from a supplied irrigation system water coming from one of our many canals, or sometimes directly from the river itself.  If the system was installed properly, the water flow to the pump can be shut off by simply turning off a valve before the pump (**but be sure you turn off and unplug the pump if you do this for any extended period of time, or you can burn out your pump if the timer kicks it on and there’s no water to pull from).   As with the reclaimed water scenario, make sure you know where to shut the water off for your individual property.  If you are not sure how to stop the water flow from the pump, be sure and speak with your local irrigation professional. Things happen, trust me. Take a couple pictures of your system from both sides (and of the manufacturer's plate on the pump) and go to them to discuss if they cannot come to you right away.  If the system is not shut down properly severe pump damage or failure could occur.

Finally, dirty water irrigation systems will need some type of filter system to clear impurities from the water before it reaches the pump, valves and heads.  Even the tiniest bits of dirt or debris can clog a head or stick a valve open.  There are many types of filter systems (spin clean and view flows are two common types here in the Grand Valley) and it's best to consult a professional if you’re not completely sure of what your designing. If you are adding a pump, it will require 110 or 220V, and we suggest these be installed by professionals.

 

Simplify your life with a Controller/Timer:
Your automatic sprinkler system will usually operate using a controller and timer.  Typically located on the interior or exterior wall of the garage and/or nearby the electrical panel.  They may also operate from a central control system; in the case where a single residential property has its own pump, the controller could be located near the pumping equipment.

In the event that you have an individual controller for the property, familiarize yourself with how to switch the power off to the controller. On small and domestic systems it may be as easy as unplugging the controller from an outlet. Knowing how to shut it off can eliminate an emergency situation in the event that the sprinklers will not shut off.  Larger irrigation controllers require higher voltage to operate them, you should not have to remove any screws or take anything apart.  If a malfunction of the controller is suspected, it should only be serviced by your irrigation specialist.

Programming the controller can be a bit of an experience, particularly if you’re faced with an older controller.  Newer ones are much easier and more intuitive.  The manual is usually a great reference but those tend to disappear over time and if owners have changed or moved in and out.  Thankfully the internet comes to the rescue once again and a quick Google search should track down the user’s manual as long as you can identify the controller brand and model you’re dealing with.  If you’re not familiar with the system and the watering zones, it will take some trial and error to find out which zones water which part of the yard.  If you have a “Manual Start” button you can give it a test run and match the zoned on the panel with the area being watered in your yard.  If your system still proves to be a mystery (not uncommon at all) give your local sprinkler professional a call.

 

Optimize your watering efficiency and savings with rotary sprinklers:
Any given property may or may not have rotary sprinklers installed.  They are generally used in large turf areas that are 20′x 20′ or more.  They will shoot a large stream of water and will oscillate back and forth slowly.  Rotary sprinklers operate on the same basis as the older impact or “knocker head” sprinklers, but most of them are gear driven these days, which makes them much quieter.

 

Use stationary sprinklers / “Sprays” for accuracy and savings:
Stationary sprinklers, "pop-ups" or “spray heads” are used in smaller turf areas and may be used in landscape beds as well.  Spray heads pop-up out of the ground, but don't move. They spray more of a mist, compared to larger droplets cast by rotary sprinklers.  Spray heads typically come in 4″, 6″ and 12″ heights and can be adjusted up to about 15' in diameter.  The size that is used depends on the type of turf grass or the sprinkler's specific location in a landscape bed.  The landscaped areas of the home may also have what is referred to as a "standpipe".  These are nothing more than a spray head nozzle attached to a 8"-24" tall fixed riser in order to attain sufficient clearance over the closer plants so the water can reach the distant plants.

 

Utilize the cost savings of "Low Volume Irrigation" systems/ “Drips”:
Low Volume or “Drip” are commonly used in landscape and planting beds.  Most drip irrigation products use numerous emitters that are drip water closer to the root zone of the plants. However, each emitter lets out, or emits a very small amount of water compared to a spray head. This makes the watering process a very efficient operation, because not only are you targeting the specific areas that you want to water, but the water is also applied at a much lower rate, reducing run off. It also helps to avoid losing your water to the wind or evaporation.  Drip irrigation is mandatory in many areas.  If you don’t see any water spraying in the planted areas around the home, chances are that drip has been installed.

In almost all cases, drip irrigation zones require a pressure regulator and filter.  The orifice that emits the water is very small, therefore making it prone to clogging by any foreign matter in the water.  

 

Save water with "Flood Bubblers":
Flood bubblers are only used under certain circumstances.  They come in fixed and adjustable rates.  A fixed rate bubbler is ideal because you actually know how much water you’re going to apply to the plant or zone it’s designed for.  Bubblers may be used where large trees are located on the top of a berm where run off, or good saturation is a concern.  The most common place you would find one on a residential home would be in a very small planting area.

 

Save money and avoid unnecessary watering with "Rain Sensing" Devices:
Rain sensing devices or “rain sensors” are devices that cease all watering in the event sufficient rainfall is detected.  They are usually located near the controller, sometimes on the eve of the roof or mounted on conduit pipe in the landscape bed.  Rain sensors have been mandatory components of irrigation systems in many states for several years now and should be checked for proper operation regularly.

 

Position your "Control Valves" for convenience and aesthetics:
Almost all irrigation systems have an individual control valve for each station or “zone”. They are usually located at planned intervals around the home with only the lid visible,  they can be grouped together if the irrigation design allows for it.  The lid on most control valves will be green in color and can be round (smaller one valve locations) or square (multiple valves).  If there is a considerably larger box, it is typically rectangular in shape, as it may house multiple control valves, or the filter for the drip irrigation if applicable. Aside from filter maintenance, the control valves should only be repaired by qualified persons.

At Tallgrass we work with the irrigation professionals at Grand Junction Pipe to design the best and most appropriate system for each individual project.  We don't ever inflate our profits by using cheap, low end parts sold at many of the box stores.  We work to understand pressure, water type and availability as we craft your system--then use quality parts specified by the design professionals to build it.  Cheap parts fail quickly and the result will be many weekends with you, a shovel, replacement parts and glue.  We’re sure you have better ways to spend your free time, so our suggestion is to get it done right by professionals the first time!

The folks at Rainbird know residential and commercial irrigation and sprinkler systems better than just about anyone else around.  Collectively they’ve forgotten more than the rest of us will ever know.  Click the link here for a great introductory look at sprinkler systems and their components, how they work and best use tips.

Fencing and Retaining Walls

Fences come in all varieties for all sorts of purposes. Dividers, pathways, terraces, holding back soil, keeping pets and kids in a yard and as steps to name a few uses. They come in wood, brick, plastic, concrete, steel mesh, corrugated, plants, trees-- you name it.  The best thing about a fence to me is that it defines a yard or space, and provides a transitional barrier. 

Another thing I appreciate about fencing is how it can be crafted and adapted to almost any yard. Think about an apartment with a balcony. That's the fence and the garden and green space is separate from the "real world".  That's where imagination and creativity come into play.

Think about an adobe hacienda of the southwest. The harsh desert and semi-arid surroundings were kept at bay by different size walls, creating a welcoming retreat from the outside world.  You can create this pretty much wherever you are, wherever you live--in any climate.

We love using our imagination to create these spaces for our clients. 

TallGrass Fencing company Grand Junction.jpg
 

When is a water feature waterless? In the image on the right we are suggesting water with the different colored gravel. Of course, if you have a source of water in the form of moving water or a pond, you can do amazing things as well. the sound of running water can be very soothing, and ponds either very tranquil or another form of outdoor recreation.

We love working within our client's environment, whether wet or dry features are desired.

Mixing rock, terrain, water, lighting and plant life to create a visually and physically inviting place can make the difference between a house and a "home", a place to relax, entertain, hang with the family or friends, a safe place for your kids to play and dogs and cats to sleep and eat.

Lighting can make a huge difference. Walking outside with subtle lighting to guide you, versus tripping over a bike left strategically for you to find. Festive lighting for outdoor dining, Uplighting with plants and home being showcased are all opportunities to enhance the enjoyment of your home at night.

 

 

Dry Creek Bed