Articles And Tips

List of low-water use plants for Arizona deserts
The Arizona Municipal Water Users Association (AMWUA) provides a listing for low water use shrubs, trees, cacti & other succulents, vines and groundcovers for desert landscaping. It gives detailed information, pictures, descriptions, growth habit, size at maturity, sun requirements, hardiness, etc. This website is also a good resource for discovering how to conserve water throughout your home or office. AMWUA Shrubs

Arizona Citrus FAQ
If you are interested in growing citrus in Arizona, here is a helpful overview of facts you will need to know. This is basic information on selecting, buying, planting and maintaining citrus in your landscape. It also provides other links that may further increase your knowledge on the subject. Arizona Citrus

Control weeds in your winter lawn
What are some of the most common weeds that pop up in your winter lawn, and how do you control them? This is the focus of this article from West Coast Turf. It discusses various methods of eradication, including chemical applications and hand-pulling some types of weeds. Jay encourages fertilizing to strengthen the turf so that it is thicker and reduces the amount of weeds that will germinate. Mr. Wisegrass

Seed vs. Sod
It is important to consider the differences between installing sod for a lawn vs. using seed. On the surface, seed seems to be a more economical option. However, the water costs, fertilizer, and maintenance required will quickly bring the comparable costs more into balance. Also with sod, you get the instant impact of having a green lawn instead of waiting until the seed germinates and matures. Weigh the pros and cons after reading this tip from the Arizona Master Gardeners Manual: Master Gardener Lawns

Sustainable Landscape Management
There is a publication available through the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association (ALCA) that is a good resource for managing and sustaining landscapes in Arizona. “Sustainable Landscape Management” details planting and pruning of trees,shrubs, palms, and cacti and other succulents. It provides scheduling for pruning, fertilizing, and weed abatement. Irrigation, turf management, site drainage, pesticide and herbicide applications are all discussed at length. This would benefit property managers and anyone who maintains their own landscape. To order your copy follow this link: ALCA SLM Pruning Schedule.

 

Landscape Rock Materials
A major component of landscape design in Arizona is the use of decorative landscape rock materials. The use of rock conserves water, by diminishing the amount of turf to be maintained. The options, with the various colors and sizes available locally, are numerous. Some of the major suppliers are Pioneer Landscape Materials, Kilauea Crushers, Kalamazoo Materials, and Granite Express. Samples can usually be provided for pick up and taken to the proposed site for comparison. Often times homeowners will select a color that is complementary to the color of their home or other nearby structure. Pricing varies and is a consideration for most people. Most types of rock are installed to a depth of 1 1/2″- 2″. To determine the quantity of rock required, the total square footage of area must be measured. The other factor is the size of the rock material chosen. The following link (courtesy of Kalamazoo Materials) will provide a chart that will allow you to calculate the tonnage of rock and the cost needed for your landscape: Coverage Chart

Introduction to Fruit Trees
If you have ever thought of planting an orchard to produce your own fruit, here are some tips for you from the AZ Master Gardeners Manual. The game plan should include spacing considerations, choice of type of trees (climate & soil factors) and quantity (cross pollinating trees require at least two trees of the same type), and irrigation design. Dwarf varieties can be grown in containers and practical when space is an issue. Master Gardener Fruit Trees

Landscaping for Desert Wildlife
By selecting a wide variety of southwestern native plants, a garden will attract desert wildlife. The plants provide food and shelter so that birds and small reptiles will feel right at home. Incorporating water into the design will further enhance the habitat and your viewing pleasure. This article from the Arizona Game and Fish Department will give you more information and other links on the subject: Desert Wildlife

Converting turf to xeriscape
Converting a turf area to xeriscape can save you 50-75% on your water bill. To eliminate the lawn you must use chemical applications. The chemical recommended in this article by the Arizona Cooperative Extension, is glyphosphate, and it is available in a few different brand names. It is a non-selective herbicide so it will eliminate grass and weeds. After the turf is brown, you will need to scalp the dead material, leaving just soil. A preemergent will then need to be applied to keep new weeds and grass from germinating. Preemergent is generally applied twice annually, ideally in March and October. It is not recommended that plastic sheeting be installed prior to covering the area with a rock material. Read more: Xeriscape Turf Conversions

Understanding Backflow Prevention
Drinking water contamination from backflow is a major concern throughout the country. Backflow prevention devices can protect public health and reduce liability for contractors. In Arizona, all devices are required to be tested and documented by a certified technician annually. More information concerning backflow prevention is provided in this article from Irrigation and Green Industry Magazine: Understanding Backflows

Harvest for Humanity
AGAVE is a supporter of Harvest for Humanity, a non-profit organizations whose goal is to provide fresh organic produce to those in need. Harvest uses vacant land, a solar greenhouse, and an all volunteer staff from supporters including Intel to grow and distribute the food to local shelters, hospices, and food banks. They also maintain several community gardens. Harvest for Humanity strives to teach skills that
will enable people to be self reliant in the future. To learn more please visit the website using this link: Harvest For Humanity

Growth Characteristics of Turfgrasses
For an introduction to warm season turfgrasses grown in Arizona, please check the link below to the Arizona Master Gardeners Manual. The article provides descriptions of appearance and growth habit of the various species and varieties available locally, and also outlines maintenance tips so that your lawn is healthy and thriving. Turf Characteristics

Soil Amendments for your Garden
The first task that needs to be addressed when planning a garden is making sure the soil has the correct nutrients and texture for vibrant plant growth. The three macronutrients required are nitrogen, for healthy stem and leaf growth, phosphorous for root growth, and potassium for overall plant health. The pH of your soil can also determine whether your plants will thrive or struggle. These topics along with the processes required to amend your soil for optimum results are discussed in this article on About.com: Soil Amendments

Rainwater Harvesting for Landscape Use
The practice of harvesting rainwater has been used by humans for thousands of years, both for drinking water and agricultural use.  This is particularly true in the more dry and arid regions of the world.  Recently there have been efforts to encourage and implement this practice due to its many benefits.  Rainwater harvesting reduces stormwater runoff, reduces the amount of potable water used for landscaping, is relatively clean and salt free, recharges depleted water tables, and best of all, its free.  A rainwater catchment system can be as simple as making curb cuts so that water runs into a landscaped area instead of down the street.  Or installing gutters and downspouts on your home that directs water into a bermed landscape holding area or a french drain. Or contouring your landscape so that surface water flows to plants in the landscape.  More complex systems utilize tanks and drip irrigation distribution systems.  For a detailed analysis and description of harvesting techniques, please check out this article by the Cooperative Extension of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona:Water Harvesting

Soil Preparation for Lawn Installation
There are several factors to consider and steps to take before installing sod or grass seed for a lawn at your home.  The soil conditions must be examined to see if there are rocks or gravel present.  If so these must be removed along with any existing vegetation.  A soil test is recommended to see if there are any extraneous chemicals present from dumping or if soil amendments must be added for optimum growth.  You will also have to determine if the soil will drain well,  or if it is compacted and has a high clay content that would hinder drainage.

It may necessary to rototill the soil to facilitate a healthy lawn. Finally, you will need to choose the type of sod or seed that is best suited for your lawn depending on climate and the amount of sunlight that the lawn will receive on a daily basis.  The link below will take you to the Arizona Master Gardener’s Manual that will give you further information:
Turf Preparation

Arizona Native Plant Law
Arizona is unique in that it protects its most prominent native plants with a set of laws and regulations.  Before a protected plant can be destroyed or transported, a native plant survey must be submitted and approved. This process is well defined and detailed on the State of Arizona’s Department of Agriculture website: Native Plant Laws

Pros and cons of a Winter Lawn
This articles discusses the pros and cons of overseeding for a winter lawn.  It provides some good tips and links to other articles that outline the process, if you decide to do so.To Seed Or Not To Seed?

Reasons for Pruning
Why should trees and shrubs in the landscape be pruned?  The reasons are numerous.  Pruning will improve the overall health and appearance of the plants.  Removing dead and diseased branches will enhance aesthetics and eliminate habitat for unwanted insects and disease.  Reducing the quantity of branches and foliage will also allow plants to concentrate energy on producing higher quality flowers and fruit.  Light will be able to penetrate to interior leaves, producing a more vigorous and robust aura for the plant.  Please read more on this subject in the Arizona Master Gardeners Manual:Reasons for Pruning

Palms for your Landscape
When selecting palms to install in your Arizona landscape, there are several things you need to know and consider. These include planting details, fertilization requirements, pruning methodology, information on diseases and pests and most importantly, what palms will grow and thrive in your specific climate. The rule of thumb is you must be at an elevation below 4000′, although in some microclimates they will survive.  Some palms are not suited for the hottest areas and need to be protected with shade and additional water in such cases.  Please check the link below for more information.Palm Trees

Vegetable Garden Video
There are a few basic design elements to consider when laying out a vegetable garden that will determine if you have success or failure in your attempt.  The positioning of the sun throughout the day should be analyzed to see what areas are sunniest and which have more time in the shade.  Water availability and method of distribution is another key element.  Please watch the short video for more information:Home Vegetable Garden

Hummingbird Gardens for Phoenix
Would you like to know how to attract hummingbirds into your yard or garden?  They are drawn to specific plants, most with red/pink/orange tubular flowers, that you can add to your landscape.  Also hummingbird feeders, which dispense a sugary water mix (3 parts water to 1 part sugar)  are effective.  Ideally select a feeder that has red coloring but avoid any yellow because it also will attract bees.  Follow the link to a Phoenix Gardening article that will give more information:
Hummingbirds

Why use native plants?
When selecting plants for your landscape, consider native plants first.  Native plants require less water and maintenance because they are climatically adjusted to the area’s weather conditions.  They also attract native wildlife that can enhance your landscape experience. Read more here, courtesy of the Arizona Native Plant Society: Using Native Plants

Smart controllers
The use of a “Smart” irrigation controller for your landscape can effectively reduce water usage and save money.  Each irrigation zone can be programmed for light conditions (full sun, part shade, etc.) plant type (tree or shrub), slope, and soil type.  The on-site weather sensor communicates current temperature and moisture conditions to the controller to determine the run times.  This allows the plants to receive adequate water and avoids over-watering.What is a Smart Controller?