Southwestern Deserts

July, 2008
Regional Report

Irrigate Efficiently

If rain is sufficient, skip a programmed irrigation (or two). Set timers to water lawns between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. to reduce water loss to evaporation from sun and wind, and so grass blades will dry quickly as the sun rises. Where temperatures are above 90 degrees F, water lawns every 2 to 3 days; if temperatures are below 90, water every 3 to 5 days.

Thin Desert Trees as Needed

Desert trees, such as mesquite, palo verde, and ironwood, actively grow in the summer so they can be lightly pruned as needed and they will quickly recover. If canopies are top-heavy, a light thinning to open up air flow through the branches can help prevent trees from blowing over in summer thunderstorms. Never top trees. Topping creates an unhealthy, unsafe tree. If you have a large, mature tree and are unsure how to proceed, it's a good idea to hire a certified arborist. Ask for credentials and references. Mature landscape trees add to the value of a property, so getting expert help is a good investment.

Aerate Bermuda Lawns

Aerate only every two to four years when Bermuda is actively growing during the warm summer months. Rent a powered aerator for large lawns or use a foot-press aerator for small patches. The goal is to punch small holes through the top layer of thatch and soil. This allows oxygen, moisture, and nutrients to reach the grass roots.

Control Spider Mites

Spider mites thrive in dusty conditions. Wash off dusty plant foliage with a blast of water from the hose in the early morning before sun hits the foliage.

Deadhead Flowers

Deadhead spent flowers to prolong the plant's blooming period. Deadheading keeps the plant sending its energy into forming flowers instead of seeds. Cut flowers for bouquets and snip off dead flowers and toss them into the compost pile.

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