Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Southwestern Deserts

October, 2001
Regional Report

Transplant Landscape Plants

All types of trees, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers can be transplanted now in the low desert. Determine how much space the plant will have to grow in your landscape and compare that to the mature size of the plant. Other factors to consider are sun exposure, soil type, and cold hardiness. Native and desert-adapted plants will adjust more readily than non-adapted plants and will exhibit fewer problems with pests and diseases.

Make a Compost Pile

Mix about 2/3 nitrogen matter, including grass clippings, vegetable and fruit trimmings, coffee grounds and about 1/3 carbon matter, including dried leaves, straw and paper products. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will decompose. Use a pitchfork to create a pile that measures about three feet by three feet by three feet or purchase a bin designed for that purpose. Keep materials moist like a damp sponge and turn periodically to add more oxygen.

Overseed Warm-Season Lawns

Overseed Bermuda lawns with winter rye from mid-October to mid-November. Mow progressively lower until 1/2 inch is left standing. Overseed when night temperatures are under 65 degrees and day temperatures are less than 78 degrees. Water seeded areas several times per day for 5-10 minutes to keep soil moist until rye germinates. As grass establishes, water every 3 to 7 days to a depth of 4 to 6 inches.

Plant Wildflowers

Choose a location in full sun. Rake to a depth of one inch. Mix seeds with sand to promote uniform sowing. Scatter seeds north/south and east/west to ensure good coverage. Press the seeds into the soil lightly with the back of a rake. Do not cover any deeper than 1/16 of an inch. Keep soil moist for about 4 to 6 weeks until seeds germinate and reach about two inches in height. If winter rains are adequate, you may not need to do much watering. Soak the area periodically, if needed.

Water Citrus

Water needs are reduced as temperatures cool, but citrus still needs periodic deep soakings. Water trees that have been in the ground 1 year or less every 7 days; 1 to 2 years, every 10 days; and 3 or more years, every 14 to 21 days. Water should penetrate about 2 feet deep for young trees and 3 feet deep for trees that have been planted 3 years or more.


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