Southwestern Deserts

February, 2009
Regional Report

Water Winter Lawns Correctly

For Bermuda lawns overseeded with rye, water every 5 to 10 days, depending on weather, soil conditions, and rainfall. Water should penetrate 4 to 6 inches deep for ryegrass, which has a shallower root system than Bermuda. For dormant lawns that were not overseeded, water needs to penetrate about 8 to 10 inches deep. Water once a month. It should never be necessary to water established lawns daily. If necessary, adjust your automatic sprinkler system. Overwatering promotes fungal diseases.

Finish Pruning Chores

If you have not already done so, finish pruning roses, nonnative deciduous shade trees, deciduous fruit trees and grapes. Wait to prune native plants, frost-tender tropicals and spring-flowering shrubs. Use sharp tools and disinfect pruners between plants so you don't inadvertently spread diseases.

Plant Vegetables

Fast-maturing cool-season veggies can still be planted. Enrich soil with a 4- to 6-inch layer of compost, dug in about 12 to 18 inches deep. Sow seeds of beets, carrots, lettuce, spinach and greens, peas, onions and turnips.

Fertilize Non-Native Landscape Plants

Apply fertilize at the edge of a plant canopy, or dripline, as new growth begins to appear. Most native plants do not require fertilizer as they are well adapted to desert soils. Overfertilizing promotes excessive growth. Do not fertilize frost-tender exotics, such as lantana, bougainvillea, hibiscus and natal plum, until all danger of freeze is over, usually mid-March in the low desert.

Monitor Veggies for Insects

Aphids and cabbage loopers may start showing up on vegetables about now. Cabbage loopers are small green caterpillars with chewing mouth parts, so they leave holes or jagged edges. Aphids are teeny-tiny with sucking mouth parts. They leave behind a sticky honeydew residue. Loopers are easily controlled by hand-picking. Blast aphids with a shot of water from the hose. Check plants daily to keep these insects under control and no pesticide should be needed.

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