Here in Tucson, the month of October and early part of November are good months to transplant new trees into your landscape. It's not so hot right now for trees to transition into their new and permanent homes. Yet the soil is still warm to help promote root growth and therefore gives your new tree time to establish itself before our cold nights begin in December. The next 5 days focus on several tree topics that may help you with the process of planting new trees into your landscape. As a docent and avid gardener in the desert southwest, I think it's important to share what I've researched and experimented on over the past 13 years here in Tucson. As we all know, it can be tricky gardening in the extreme desert southwest. So let's begin with the essential question for homeowners here in Tucson. Why should you place a tree in your landscape?
- Increases curb appeal. There is nothing like a tree to make a place "pop". If you're trying to sell your home, a tree can make all the difference in the world. I know the 2 large live oaks at my place sold me.
- Lowers utility costs. You will save money each month by placing a tree in the proper place. On our Southern and Western exposures, where it's hottest, I've placed some fantastic trees to eat up most of the sun. Now our walls are cool:) It has been reported that some homeowners have reduced their home utility bills as much as 20 to 30 percent.
- Trees reduce urban heat. If you've been to Phoenix, you know what a hellish nightmare that place is during the summer. Their endless boring roads and sidewalks absorb sun and heat all day long. While Tucson cools off at night, Phoenix stays in the 100's!! Trees can reduce that urban heat "bubble" that forms in many of our cities here in the desert southwest. Are you ready for this? A well shaded space can lower an area as much as 10 degrees cooler! While I was in Panama this summer, our guest gardener came to water the multitude of plants around the property. She noticed the immediate difference in temps once she entered our shaded courtyard and was able to withstand the brutal sun. Have I mentioned how much I love this woman?
- Wildlife. We have increased our desert wildlife here in midtown since I first moved here in 2007. Today we are home to several types of hummingbirds, butterflies, lizards, cicadas, and other critters. As long as they aren't packrats......:)
- Slows the wind. This can be an advantage and DISadvantage depending on the tree you plant. More on that tomorrow. I find clumping plants together with similiar water needs in different areas help reduce the amount of water you need to use for your landscape. Even in our hot summer with those dry hot winds, I only had to water twice a week. Of course this was with native plants, but still......the ground stayed moist and protected from the drying winds.
- Creates an attractive oasis. Theme your areas. My fern garden utilizes the Jacaranda, Desert Willow, Desert Fern, Texas Ebony and Mesquite trees to give it that wispy and light air feel to that particular space. It's really wonderful and each year it becomes even more lush as they gain height!
- Absorb air pollutants! A lot of plants do a good job absorbing nasty toxic air particulants. If you live in Phoenix, you have a lot of days during the summer when the air quality is bad! But Tucson gets them as well. Plant trees to reduce that nasty big city haze around your own place:)
- Reduce soil erosion. Our rains are sometimes torrential here. A tree canopy diffuses that intense stream of energy as it hits our ground reducing soil erosion from running off into our streets and sidewalks.
- Lastly, it will extend your outdoor living area providing a wonderful "Arizona Room" for dinner, reunions, or for a nice drink with friends. Stay tuned for more on this five part series.