Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

August, 2008
Regional Report

Plan for Rainwater Harvest

Continue watching where rainfall naturally flows on your property through the last of the summer monsoon season. Take advantage by creating swales (depressions) in the soil where water can accumulate and soak in to water nearby plants. Make sure water drains quickly (within 24 hours) and is carried 8 to 10 feet away from any building's foundation.

Create a Shopping List

Fall plant sales at botanical gardens are not far off! Start creating your plant list so you don't get carried away when confronted by so many choices. First, decide what you need from a plant (shade, screening, color, food, etc.) Next, determine the sun exposure and available space for plants to grow to mature size without unneeded pruning. Then narrow your list to plants that fill those requirements.

Ready Vegetable Garden Beds

Although still too hot to plant, begin improving the soil for cool-season vegetables. Add 4 to 6 inches of organic matter (compost, well-aged manure, dried leaves or grass clippings without seeds) on top of the soil. To improve drainage, spread soil sulfur or gypsum according to package instructions. You can let it lie until cooler weather, or dig it under to a depth of 12 to 18 inches.

Feed Citrus

Fertilize with one-third of a tree's annual total nitrogen requirement in August or September. Water deeply to a depth of 3 feet for mature trees, slightly less for those newly transplanted.

Aerate Lawns

Tightly compacted soil doesn't allow water, air, and nutrient penetration. Aerate lawns every two to four years during their active growing season (summer for bermuda grass in the low desert). Aerate when soil is slightly moist (not too wet, which will further compact the soil). Perforate the top layer with small holes using a foot press, or rent an engine-powered aerator. Leave the plugs of soil that are removed on top of the grass for a day or two to dry out, then break them up. Keeping lawns healthy with proper maintenance, including aeration, will reduce water use.


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