APS Shade Tree Program
Utility provider Arizona Public Service (APS) is offering free trees along with free tree care workshops through their website APS Green Choice. To be eligible, you must be their residential customer living in Maricopa County. According to APS, appropriately placed shade trees can save $50 per year on utility bills by reducing household cooling needs. Unfortunately, this year's events filled up fast, but if you go the bottom of the Events page, you can click to sign up to receive email alerts of events in 2012. Be the first to sign up for a free tree!
Favorite or New Plant
Roadsides, trails, and natural areas at higher elevations are covered with clumps of lilac-colored native asters from midsummer through fall. Various species exist, but Aster bigelovii (syn. Machaeranthera bigelovii) is common. Asters grow in full sun to partial shade in various soils and are low water use plants. However, if they grow in your landscape or garden, they will be lusher and flower more profusely with a little extra water. Sow from seed or transplant in early fall or early spring. Also look for named varieties of blooming asters with varying shades of pale lavender to deep purple. Low-maintenance asters are great butterfly attractors.