The Q&A Archives: Trees in Southwest

Question: I live east of Phoenix, AZ, and would like to plant some kind of tree that doesn't loose it's leaves, because I am planting beside a pool. Yet I want it to be ornamental and a fast grower. Does any kind of pepper tree grow here?

Answer: The most important things when choosing plants are determining what sun exposure (full, partial, shady) they will thrive in and how much space they need to grow to maturity (both vertically and horizontally), and then comparing that with what your landscape offers. There are so many colorful possibilities and since I can't know your likes and dislikes I'm going to provide you with some great resources. First, contact the Phoenix City Water Conservation Department for a free copy of Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert. It is a color guide listing more than 200 low-water-use plants, along with growing and special characteristics (e.g., hummingbirds, etc.) For appropriate poolside plantings, you want things that can take extreme reflected heat and that don't drop alot of litter to clog the equipment. Download this free publication from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Poolside Plantings, AZ 1058 It's also available as a PDF. I strongly urge you to stick with native and desert-adapted choices, such as those listed in the above publications. They are adapted to our heat, alkaline soil, aridity, sunshine and have few if any pest problems. If you are interested in gardening or landscaping, I suggest the books from Arizona Master Gardener Press: They don't contain alot of information on plant descriptions, but have everything you need to know about selection, transplanting, watering, pruning, fertilizing, insects and more. That website also contains info on local garden events. Good luck!

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