The Q&A Archives: Gardening in Arizona

Question: I just bought a house and the yard is bare. I need help on just about everything. I am not uses to az planting. I just moved and it is a lot different here for plants of all kinds. Please help me. I just want vegetables and a tree or two and some flowers, not an over done yard. Please help. thank you.

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). 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 plantings, you may want things that can take extreme reflected heat and that don't drop alot of litter. Download this free publication from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Poolside Plantings, AZ 1058

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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