Southwestern Deserts

May, 2008
Regional Report

Examine Tree Structure

Summer's thunderstorms bring strong winds that can uproot trees. Wind gets beneath dense canopies and basically lifts a tree out of the ground. Selected thinning of some branches to allow wind to blow through the canopy can be helpful. Never top trees or stub back branches. If you're not sure how to proceed, contact a certified arborist. Healthy, attractive trees add to property values; butchered trees detract!

Layer Mulch

Spread several inches of mulch around the base of plants and on top of the soil in containers before summer heat arrives. Mulch will reduce soil temperatures and conserve moisture. As it decomposes, it adds nutrients to the soil. Keep mulch several inches away from stems and trunks.

Check Irrigation Systems

Turn the system on and check that all emitters are working, that nothing leaks or oversprays, and that lawn sprinklers reach all areas evenly. Check hose bibs for leaks and replace washers and/or wrap with Teflon tape.

Plant Canna Bulbs

Amend garden beds with organic matter. Loosen soil 18 to 24 inches deep to allow good drainage and prevent bulbs from rotting. Mix a phosphorus fertilizer into the bottom of the planting hole. Phosphorus, which promotes blooming, doesn't move readily through the soil as does nitrogen, so it's a good idea to place it where the roots will be. Canna bulbs do well in containers, too.

Prepare Shade Structures

If you will be covering any plants during the summer with shade cloth, erect structures now, before it becomes a chore in 100-degree heat. For example, use bent PVC pipe to make hoop houses over tomato plants.

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