Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

February, 2006
Regional Report

Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

To rejuvenate clumping ornamental grasses, such as muhlenbergia and deer grass, cut back to 4 to 6 inches above the ground. As spring temperatures arrive, they will quickly put out new growth.

Research Plants

Spring planting season is just around the corner. Take a stroll around your yard and think about what you'd like to achieve (shade, flowers, bird attraction, etc.) and what plants will help you realize these goals. Look at mature plants at demonstration gardens and then check references to see if they have the attributes you need.

Rake Leaves

Even the low desert experiences some leaf drop, especially when winter temperatures turn cold. Rake up leaves and use them as a good source of carbon in the compost pile. Stockpile leaves in plastic bags or in an out-of-the-way corner of the yard for later use if not needed right now. You can also spread leaves across garden beds and dig them into the soil or use them as mulch.

Fertilize Cool-Season Containers

Plant roots in containers can't spread outwards to obtain nutrients so they quickly deplete what's in the potting soil. Feed with a product formulated for the type of plant (flowers, vegetables), or use a balanced fertilizer according to package instructions.

Prune Woody Plants

Winter dormancy is the best time to prune non-native deciduous trees, conifers, roses, and summer-blooming shrubs that bloom on new wood. Use sharp bypass hand pruners or loppers to make a smooth cut that will heal quickly. Do not seal cuts on any plants, except roses. Dab the end of rose cuts with wood glue to prevent cane borers from entering. Disinfect tools before you start on a new plant to avoid spreading any insect or disease problems.


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