Southwestern Deserts

August, 2010
Regional Report

Eliminate Breeding Areas for Mosquitoes

Monsoon rains can dump a deluge in minutes, creating mini ponds in shallow depressions in the soil or filling saucers beneath plants. Mosquitoes can breed in the tiniest bit of standing water. Make sure that any natural pools of water on the ground drain quickly (within 24 hours), and lift and empty saucers, containers, or other receptacles.

Control Weeds

Monsoon rains are followed by a quick crop of weeds. Pull or hoe them ASAP, long before they flower and set seed. They are easy to remove when soil is moist and you can leave the green foliage to decompose on top of the soil. Alternatively, toss them in the compost pile.

Check Your Sun Exposure

If you have moved to a new home or are new to gardening and landscaping, it's essential to know the sun exposures in your yard. Walk around and make note of sun exposures on a sketch. It doesn't have to be fancy, but as you plan changes in the landscape, it will help you match plants with their sun requirements. In particular, note the best locations to site a deciduous tree to block intense southern or western sun in summer. Well-sited trees can help you save a bundle on utility bills.

Remove Squash Bugs

Check warm-season vining crops (cucumbers, gourds, pumpkins and squash) for squash bugs. Examine the undersides of leaves for masses of eggs laid in neat rows. Crush the eggs to prevent them from hatching. Young bugs may also be found at the base of the plant and can damage the stems. Adult squash bugs are about 1/2" long, brown or grey, and shaped a bit like a shield. They suck the juices out of leaves and stems. These bugs hide in leaf litter or under boards, stones or something similar at night. You can place boards around plants, then go out early in the morning to kill any bugs hiding underneath. Pull mulch away from the base of plants to eliminate hiding places. At the end of the season, clean up leaf litter to prevent them from overwintering.

Spot-Aerate Dry Patches in the Lawn

Lawns should be aerated every 2-4 years when they are actively growing to enhance oxygen, water and nutrient movement to the roots. However, if your lawn exhibits just a few brown spots likely caused by soil compaction (as opposed to dog urine), use a foot press aerator to break up the hard soil.

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