Southwestern Deserts

October, 2004
Regional Report

Caring for Lawns

You can allow summer Bermuda lawns to go dormant for the winter to save time, money and water. Dormant lawns need no fertilizer and only monthly watering. If you choose to overseed, do so when night temperatures are below 65 degrees F. and day temperatures are below 78 degrees. Water several times per day for 5 to 10 minutes to keep soil moist until rye germinates. Reduce watering to once or twice a week.

Plant Herbs

Plant cool-season herbs in full sun in soil with excellent drainage. Try chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, lemon balm, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage and thyme. Tuck three or four herbs into a container and place in a sunny spot near the kitchen door.

Sow Cool-Season Vegetables

Improve soil before planting with a 4- to 6-inch layer of compost, nitrogen and phosphorus. If soil is heavy clay, gypsum will enhance drainage. Cool-season vegetables include all types of greens, root crops (carrots, beets, turnips), cabbage family veggies (cabbage, kale, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower) and peas.

Adjust Watering Schedules

Change automatic timers and reduce watering frequency for landscape plants as temperatures cool. Continue to apply the same amount of water to soak a plant's entire root system. Only the frequency of application should change. Water should soak 1 foot deep for small plants, 2 feet for shrubs, and 3 feet for trees.

Sow Wildflowers

There's still time to sow wildflowers. Scatter seeds for California poppies, desert bluebells, desert marigolds, penstemon, lupines, owl's clover, toadflax, scarlet flax and blanket flowers. Keep moist until germination, then gradually reduce watering.

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