Southwestern Deserts

June, 2005
Regional Report

Water Lawns Deeply

Bermuda should be watered to a depth of 8 to 10 inches. Stick a long screwdriver into the soil after watering. It will penetrate easily through moist soil but stop at hard, dry soil. This will help you gauge if your sprinklers are running long enough to soak the lawn's root system. Don't waste water. If water runs off into the street before it soaks deeply enough, stop the system, allow water to penetrate, and then start it again. It may take several cycles. If this happens, it could be a sign that it's time to aerate the lawn to allow better water absorption.

Keep Watering Citrus

Water should soak 3 feet deep and be applied at the outer edges of the tree's canopy and slightly beyond. This is where feeder roots are actively taking up water and nutrients. Mature citrus (3 year or older) need watering every 10 to 14 days. Young citrus (1 to 2 years old) need more frequent watering, about every 7 to 10 days. Newly planted citrus need water every 5 to 7 days.

Clean Up Spent Plants and Old Leaves

Cool-season annuals are likely crispy by now if you have been slow to clean them up. Yank spent plants and put them in the compost pile. Scatter any seeds or save them for next fall. Some trees, such as acacia, are dropping old leaves as new growth pushes out. Where possible, leave them in place to act as mulch and add nutrients to the soil as they decompose. However, if homeowner associations require spotlessly clean earth, rake leaves and put them in the compost pile, or spread them as mulch beneath shrubs and on top of containers.

Monitor Water Needs of Landscapes

June is the hottest, driest month in the low desert. Monitor plants for signs of water stress, such as yellowing, wilting, and wrinkling. Adjust automatic timers to increase the frequency of watering. Always water landscape plants deeply to flush salts below the root system and reduce the chance of salt burn. Salt burn shows up as browning along the edges of leaves.

Aerate Lawns

Aeration should help poor drainage. This involves removing small plugs of soil, which allows air, water and nutrients to better penetrate. For small patches of grass, use a foot-press aerator. Rent an engine-powered machine for large lawns. Aerate when the soil is moist but not overly wet. Leave the plugs on the lawn for a day or two to dry, then break them up with a rake. Top-dress the entire lawn with 1/4 inch of organic matter.

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