Southwestern Deserts

June, 2003
Regional Report

Cover Compost Piles

Cover piles with a tarp or plastic to help maintain moisture. Organic matter decomposes more quickly when it maintains dampness like a wet sponge. It can be difficult to keep it sufficiently moist during the summer. Take the cover off if rains are predicted.

Plant Palm Trees

Palm trees are one of the few landscape plants that actually thrive when transplanted now. Their root systems love the heat. Dig a hole as deep as the root ball and two feet wider on all sides. Do not amend the backfill or fertilize. Make a watering well around the palm about two feet out from the trunk. Keep the root area moist but not soggy for about two weeks after planting. Taper off gradually.

Harvest Garlic

As the foliage starts to yellow, reduce watering of garlic bulbs. When tops are completely brown, dig up the bulbs, brush off dirt, lightly wash and dry thoroughly. Store in the refrigerator or a cool place.

Sow Annual Flowers

Sow seeds for sunflowers, zinnias, gaillardia, and Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) in improved garden soil in a sunny location. A layer of light organic matter will help keep soil moist until germination. Water should soak gradually deeper to moisten the entire root system, eventually reaching about 1 foot deep.

Aerate Lawns

Soil becomes compacted over time, which inhibits air, water, and nutrients from reaching grass roots. Lawns benefit from aeration every 2 to 3 summers when the Bermuda grass is actively growing. Aerating is simply using a tool to make small holes in the lawn, allowing water, air, and nutrients to penetrate to the roots more easily. You can buy or rent a foot press aerator if your lawn area is small. For large expanses, rent an engine-powered aerator or have a lawn maintenance company do it.

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