Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

August, 2003
Regional Report

Provide Water for Wildlife

Provide water in bird baths, shallow pans, rocks with indentations (butterflies like these) or other sources. Change the water daily in bird baths and standing water sources to prevent the build-up of bacteria, which can cause sickness and death. Scrub with a brush, which will also help remove mineral deposits. Moving water, (even a slow drip from a faucet or drip emitter) will remain fresh longer.

Maintain Roses

Water roses deeply to a depth of 2 feet to moisten the entire root zone. Depending on soil type, temperature, wind, and humidity, you may need to water 3 times per week. Layer at least 3 inches of organic matter around the shrub to reduce soil temperatures and improve moisture retention. Make sure mulch doesn't touch the stem.

Harvest Rainwater

Rain has been sparse in this year's monsoon. Capture those precious raindrops by putting a rainbarrel underneath roof spouts. Cover it so mosquitoes don't breed. Channel rainwater to soak in around tree or shrub watering wells, rather than running off into storm drains and being wasted.

Caring for Citrus

Sufficient water is essential to prevent rinds from cracking as the fruit matures. Ensure that water soaks deeply into the entire root zone (3 feet deep for mature citrus) and out past the canopy dripline. Citrus bark is susceptible to sunburn, which can weaken and even kill the plant. Do not prune citrus because the extra foliage helps prevent sunburn. If branches break during summer storms, cover any exposed bark tissue with a loose wrapping.

Watering Lawns

If temperatures remain over 90 degrees F, water every 2 to 3 days. Decrease to 3 to 5 days when temperatures drop below 90. Water should penetrate 8 to 10 inches deep for Bermuda. To determine how far water soaks, use a long screwdriver or similar object as a soil probe. It will move easily through moist soil and stop when it hits dry, hard soil.


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