Southwestern Deserts

August, 2012
Regional Report

Cover Bare Soil

Layer several inches of mulch on any bare soil to prevent topsoil erosion and excess dust during summer thunderstorms. Weeds quickly sprout on any open ground, so mulch also helps prevent their spread. But if weeds do root in the loose mulch, they are easy to pull. In the garden, use any combination of layers of newspaper covered with grass clippings, compost, chipped matter, straw, or aged manure on top. As the materials decompose, they will add nutrients to the soil. These organic mulches are good spread around landscape plants as well. Decomposed granite is another mulch option in the landscape.

Spy Praying Mantids for Fun

Praying mantids have enlarged legs that they hold upright in a praying pose, ready to grab and hold insects that pass by. Green, tan, or brown in color, praying mantids blend in with the foliage they sit upon. However, if you take your time and look carefully along stems and leaves, you may spot these intriguing beneficial predators.

Make an Inexpensive Path

If your budget does not currently allow for brick, flagstone, pavers, or other hardscape materials, a simple alternative is to lay down carpet remnants, which will keep weeds at bay, and cover with mulch.

Provide Healthy Water for Wildlife

Clean and disinfect birdbaths or other standing water sources regularly to prevent the spread of disease, especially in hot weather. Use a ten percent bleach solution (9 parts water, 1 part bleach) to scrub the receptacles and dry in the sun before adding fresh water. If you are going on vacation, pay a neighbor kid to keep the water fresh. If creatures are conditioned to drink in your yard, it's cruel to stop it.

Monitor Citrus Water Needs

When citrus rinds crack later in the season as the fruit enlarges, it is a sign that the tree was stressed for water, especially during summer's hot days. In summer, trees that have been planted for one year need water every 5 to 7 days; trees that have been in the ground one to two years need water every 7 to 10 days; and older trees every 10 to 14 days. These are guidelines only. Your particular soil conditions, weather, tree health and maturity, wind and other conditions will determine how often to water. Each irrigation should soak a depth of 2 feet for young trees and 3 feet for mature trees.

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