Sunday, October 10, 2010

Garden Maintenance for Tucson

Recently I have been focusing on particular plants in the garden and on, naturally, butterflies.  The weather here in Tucson has now reached acceptable levels in the garden to work.  The mosquitos are dying and the 100 degree days with humidity are gone.  Plants during this time of year almost radiate a glow as if to breathe a little.  The intense heat stressed them to the max...and this even includes desert plants.  So with the beautiful days and cool nights, the plants until the end of November or first week of December flourish in our landscape.  Here are some tips on what you need to do to get your southwest garden ready for winter and beyond:)

Tucson Botanical Gardens

There are many varieties of gardening...low, medium, and high.  Midwesterners or people from east of the Mississippi find that their high maintenance gardening is just that.....too much work here in the desert southwest. I am going to write about the low maintenance side of gardening as I have come to appreciate the doesn't mean you have to give up green or a lush just means you need to replace those lilacs or ferns with something of similiar variety that will flourish here instead of look stunted and/or dead:)
Here's a list of things to know....
1.  Learn all you can about a plant before you purchase it
2. Know the ultimate size
3. cold? how hot?
4. much sun or little sun is involved?
5.  The water needs
6. Fertilizer
7. Insect and disease problems

As gardeners, we do many kinds of jobs.....
We prune, prep our soil, plant, fertilize our plants, control insects, weed, clean and rake and rake some more, water or drip irrigate.
Seasonal Maintenance:
Early Spring: Clean up after winter damage
Plant tropical plants
Apply pre-emergence....coats seeds from sprouting...doesn't affect plants
Adjust drip irrigation

Late Spring:  Prune flowering plants
Adjust drip irrigation

Summer: Weed control...spray pre-emergence
Apply adequate water...increase watering
Maintain proper plant size

Fall: Plant trees and shrubs
Plant winter annuals and bulbs
Winterize frost sensitive plants

Winter:  Prune trees and shrubs
Fertilize winter annuals

First off....sorry to inform you all but here it is....
-No lawns! Now there are some really great artificial lawns out there that look great and feel great on your feet and they don't require fertilizer or watering!!  Afterall, water is an expensive commodity out here.  And please, don't spray your gravel green!!  That is just simply tacky.
-Do not plant trees too close to buildings for sewage and foundation issues.
-No tree branches overhanging patios and driveways....our wind storms are nasty and they can cost you A LOT of money!
-Avoid plants susceptible to Texas Root rot.  I had this happen to me and it killed me.  I planted a Chinese Elm and it was beautiful and then after 2 died.  It's a terrible disease and you can't do much to prevent it if anything.  Here's my advice...plant your trees and have fun, but if a spot in your garden kills the tree...and your tree shows signs of sudden death and dry leaves in the middle of've got Texas Root rot.  The alternatives on the tree list are smaller in selection, but can still be attractive.  I planted a Texas Ebony in the place of the Chinese's slower growing but attractive nonetheless.
-Few plants in pots
-Automatic Drip Irrigation
-Keep garden tools easily available
-Avoid messy plants....for example, don't plant a mesquite/bouganvillea next to your pool or you'll regret it.

Desert Rose

Finally, check your drip irrigation 4 times a year.  Check for leaks and wear.

Currently, I am dealing with weeds in my garden and applying mulch on the ground. I'm also in the fertilizing phase.  I will begin planting more things as much as the money will allow me:)  Until next time, Happy Gardening!!


  1. Many great points...I find that a bad combination is taking cool, wet climate planting ideas and forcing them into the desert, as is the practice here in Albuquerque STILL. High maintenance, high water, low visual impact, no sense-of-place...

  2. Interesting post! I love the desert rose - Around here they can only be grown as house plants and apparently they are quite tricky but one day I will give them a try...

    Also, thanks for following my blog!


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