Author Archives: Ryan

Prepare your Garden for Planting

You may have noticed those crocus flowers popping up everywhere and the beginnings of new buds on the aspen trees. It’s time to get your garden ready as planting time is just around the corner. A few early preparations for this coming growing season will bring benefits all year long.

Plant seedlings  If you enjoy planting from seed as we do, now is the time to begin planting those seeds and growing seedlings in a greenhouse or coldframe.  Seedlings are vulnerable to Colorado’s cold night time temperatures this time of year, so be sure to keep your seedlings in a warm place, away from gusts.  If you are interested in a greenhouse or coldframe, read more about the types of outdoor structures we offer.

Clear gutters and rainwater harvesting drainages.  Now is the time to ensure that the melting spring snow will have adequate runoff.  Be sure to compost the leaves and organic matter you remove from your gutters and ditches, and check to make sure your water harvesting systems are clear of debris that may obstruct the flow of rainwater.  If you would like to redirect water from your roof to your garden, Backyard Revolutions offers rainwater harvesting systems.

Install raised beds and trellises.  Raised beds can be converted easily into coldframes to extend your growing season through the winter months, and they are low maintenance and can be place nearly anywhere.  Contact us for an on-site inspection of your property and we can build you a beautiful raised bed for growing veggies and herbs.

Trellises are a good addition to any vegetable garden, especially for vegetable varieties with fast-growing vines, such as peas, pumpkins and watermelons.  Make the most of a small space by allowing your plants to grow up instead of out.  Backyard Revolutions can create a custom trellis to fit into your raised bed or anywhere in your garden.

Prepare your garden beds This early in the spring, roots are quite shallow, so weeds will be easiest to pull up now and will not have a chance to take hold in your bed. Mulching bare spots will also minimize the emergence of new weeds. You can also lay down a thick layer of newspaper in places where want to suppress emerging weeds and clear the soil of roots for later planting.

Compost  Add compost or well-seasoned manure now to give your soil time to fully compost and adjust pH levels in preparation for planting. Do not dig down into the soil, as established garden beds have a complex soil ecosystem which is best left undisturbed. Nutrients form the compost or manure will work their way down into the soil.

Fall Garden Special

Backyard Revolutions wants you to be prepared to garden next spring. NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE, as sheet mulched gardens work even better after a winter of decomposition!!! We are putting on a special fall garden building drive from now until the snow arrives.

We use only the finest organic and local ingredients in our sheet mulch recipe. We have both standard and custom designs to fit any sized space. Visit our website to find out more about why sheet mulch gardens are a wise solution for Colorado’s arid climate and to make an appointment for a consultation.

Call 303-725-3805 or email to schedule your consultation.

The Tao of Permaculture

We think Permaculture is most simply the Tao of living a regenerative existence. The philosophy is so deep, simple, and productive. Because it pushes us as designers to mimic the life systems being shown to us by our Mother Planet. And Just like the Earth’s ability to produce such a dazzling and diverse array of life Permaculture gives us all the ability to leap from sustainability to actually regenerating our Mind, Body, Soul, and Planet.

Most classically Permaculture comes from the root words Permanent and Agriculture. Everything we do at Backyard Revolutions is geared to design and build regenerative systems that will be used and learned from for generations.

Thanks to COMBA for the Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day event!

The Colorado Mountain Bike Association, a chapter of IMBA, is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and improving mountain biking on the Colorado Front Range. The organization is committed to being an advocacy voice for all mountain bikers, building and maintaining trails, teaching proper trail use, and working with government on land management decisions. Yesterday COMBA with the help of local and industry partners put on a great event getting kids outside and moving in the crisp fall air. The group of 5 to 6 year old’s I rode with had an absolute blast! They rode the kiddy lap three times and hooted and hollered on every downhill. The bonds that these little kids made over the fun of mountain biking was inspiring. Wouldn’t we all be a little more renewed in spirit if we spent more time in movement while having fun with our friends?

Mountain biking is all about flowing through nature on a human powered machine and having the most fun possible! Bicycles are often touted as the most efficient machines humans have ever built with MPG equivalents of around 1300MPG!!! We all know that kids these days need more of these kind of opportunities to become healthy well rounded adults. Backyard Revolutions supports human powered recreation as a key component of a regenerative lifestyle. Thanks again to everyone who organized this event that brought together the mountain bike community in support for KIDS having as much fun on bikes as some of us adults!!!

Check out COMBA’s website to learn more about what they are doing, how you can help out, or to become a member.

Math of Human MPG…


Why Gardening Makes You Happy and Cures Depression

Written by Robyn Francis
Originally posted at

While mental health experts warn about depression as a global epidemic, other researchers are discovering ways we trigger our natural production of happy chemicals that keep depression at bay, with surprising results. All you need to do is get your fingers dirty and harvest your own food.

In recent years I’ve come across two completely independent bits of research that identified key environmental triggers for two important chemicals that boost our immune system and keep us happy – serotonin and dopamine. What fascinated me as a permaculturist and gardener were that the environmental triggers happen in the garden when you handle the soil and harvest your crops.

Getting down and dirty is the best upper: Serotonin

Getting your hands dirty in the garden can increase your serotonin levels contact with soil and a specific soil bacteria, Mycobacterium vaccae, triggers the release of serotonin in our brain according to research. Serotonin is a happy chemical, a natural anti-depressant and strengthens the immune system. Lack of serotonin in the brain causes depression.
Ironically, in the face of our hyper-hygienic, germicidal, protective clothing, obsessive health-and-safety society, there’s been a lot of interesting research emerging in recent years regarding how good dirt is for us, and dirt-deficiency in childhood is implicated in contributing to quite a spectrum of illnesses including allergies, asthma and mental disorders.

At least now I have a new insight into why I compulsively garden without gloves and have always loved the feeling of getting my bare hands into the dirt and compost heap.

Harvest ‘High’ – Dopamine

grow your own foodAnother interesting bit of research relates to the release of dopamine in the brain when we harvest products from the garden. The researchers hypothesize that this response evolved over nearly 200,000 years of hunter gathering, that when food was found (gathered or hunted) a flush of dopamine released in the reward center of brain triggered a state of bliss or mild euphoria. The dopamine release can be triggered by sight (seeing a fruit or berry) and smell as well as by the action of actually plucking the fruit.

The contemporary transference of this brain function and dopamine high has now been recognized as the biological process at play in consumers addiction or compulsive shopping disorder. Of course the big retail corporations are using the findings to increase sales by provoking dopamine triggers in their environments and advertising.

I have often remarked on the great joy I feel when I forage in the garden, especially when I discover and harvest the first of the season, the first luscious strawberry to ripen or emergence of the first tender asparagus shoot. (and yes, the photo is my hand plucking a deliciously sweet strawberry in my garden) I have also often wondered why I had a degree of inherent immunity to the retail-therapy urges that afflict some of my friends and acquaintances. Maybe as a long-term gardener I’ve been getting a constant base-load dopamine high which has reduced the need to seek other ways to appease this primal instinct. Though, I must admit with the benefit of hindsight, I now have another perspective on my occasional shopping sprees at local markets buying plants for the garden.

Of course dopamine responses are triggered by many other things and is linked with addictive and impulsive behavior. I suppose the trick is to rewire our brains to crave the dopamine hit from the garden and other more sustainable pursuits and activities. As a comment on PlanetDrum stated, all addiction pathways are the same no matter what the chemical. As long as you feel rewarded you reinforce the behavior to get the reward.
So in other words it all comes down to the fact that we can’t change our craving nature but we CAN change the nature of what we crave.

Strengthening the Case for Organic

Glyphosate residues deplete your Serotonin and Dopamine levels
Of course, for all of the above to work effectively and maintain those happy levels of serotonin and dopamine, there’s another prerequisite according to another interesting bit of research I found. It appears it will all work much better with organic soil and crops that haven’t been contaminated with Roundup or Glyphosate-based herbicides. This proviso also extends to what you eat, so ideally you’ll avoid consuming non-organic foods that have been grown in farmland using glyphosates.

A recent study in 2008 discovered that glyphosate, the active ingredient of Roundup, depletes serotonin and dopamine levels in mammals. Contrary to Monsanto claims, glyphosate and other Roundup ingredients do perpetuate in the environment, in soil, water, plants and in the cells and organs of animals. One study found glyphosate residues in cotton fabric made from Roundup-ready GM cotton can absorb into the skin and into our nervous and circulatory systems.

No wonder there’s so much depression around, and stress, and all the addictions and compulsive disorders in the pursuit of feeling good. I think back on when I moved to Sydney in 1984 for a few years and was contacting community centres in the inner west to see if there was interest in permaculture or gardening classes. A very terse social worker snapped at me “Listen dear, we don’t need gardening classes, we need stress therapy classes”, and promptly hung up on me with a resounding “Huh!” when I replied that gardening was the best stress therapy I knew.

So enjoy the garden, fresh organic food and make sure you have fun playing in the dirt on a regular basis.

Sheet Mulch Garden Workshop Party

Backyard Revolutions invites you to a free hands on sheet mulch garden workshop party.

Saturday, June 9, 2012
10:00am – 1:00pm

Let’s get together as a community for a few reasons:

1. To learn about how permaculture principles can help you grow the healthiest vegetables with the least amount of work and resources possible.
2. To learn how grouping plants in guilds or companion plantings can maximize yields.
3. To gain building experience and to help Lorey build a mothership in her front yard for all to see!
4. To see a suburban house in the early stages of becoming a FOOD JUNGLE!

You Need: Open Mind, Work Clothes/Gloves, and 3 hours of free time on Saturday June 9th

We Provide: Free workshop, hands on building experience, snacks, BEER, and community stoke!

Please RSVP, for address or any questions.

Gardening Workshop Success!

garden mentor denver

Avery and Ryan standing in the finished garden

Congratulations to Brandon and Kelly on their new sheet mulch permaculture garden! Thanks for hosting last weekend’s gardening workshop. Happy planting!

Sheet Mulching Workshop

Backyard Revolutions invites you to a free hands-on sheet mulch garden workshop/celebration in honor of our Mother(s)! Let’s get together as a community from 11am-2pm on Mother’s Day for a few reasons:

1.To learn about how permaculture principles can help you grow the healthiest vegetables with the least amount of work and resources possible.
2.To help Kelly and Brandon build a sheet mulch garden of their own.
3.To learn how fun, cheap, and easy it is to build a sheet mulched garden.
4.To celebrate community, Mother’s, and the launch of Backyard Revolutions, a Permaculture Inspired Landscape Design Company.

You Need: Open Mind, Work Clothes/Gloves, and 3 hours of free time on Sunday May 13th

We Provide: Free workshop, hands on building experience, snacks, BEER, and community stoke!

Please RSVP, for address or any questions.