Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Trees Please!

It's that time of year—everything is dying! Or, maybe not. Native plants are blooming and the green couldn't be better. The rains have been nice but still not nearly enough. Especially for trees. Trees need water – lots of water. Just because a tree looks brown and may lose a branch doesn’t mean it’s dying – it just needs water. The cost to keep a mature tree alive is nothing compared to the cost of removing an old tree and installing a new tree.

So, how are your trees being watered? By the sprinklers? Wrong answer! Sprinklers are for the lawn (and the lawn is much more effective at drinking all that water). Are your trees on a drip system? Is the dripper right at the trunk of the tree? Bad bad bad! Trees drink water from the tips of their roots, which are located out at the edge of the tree canopy (or even farther out). Do you water your trees by hand? Enough? Check out this cool watering guide:
Water Use It Wisely
(click on plant watering)
Providing shade, housing wildlife, mitigate the heat island affect, trees are very important in the landscape, the environment, and our local climate. Plant a tree; water a tree; save the trees.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Pool Plants - Duranta & Tecoma

I recently visited a friend and couldn't help but notice a legion peculiar sculpters lining the backyard wall. I stepped outside, but quickly had to retreat back indoors. From across the patio I was struck in the face and chest by a blast of debiltating reflective heat like a comic book villian. I was informed that the sculpture were once ficus shrubs they planted in May.

The original intent was to do something about the blinding block wall and screen out the neighbors. I'm no fan of ficus, but it can work around a pool or as a nice screen. That is, if you're willing to give it lots of water. Even then, winter frost would be a concern (remember 2007 January?), as well as extreme summer temps.

If you're looking to add some nice color around the pool, create some low-cost privacy, or cut down the blight of a block wall, here are a couple native adapted plants that are beautiful, durable, xeriscape options:

duranta sky flower:
It blooms tiny purple clusters, looks full yearound, and can be pruned to espalier against the wall if there is narrow space around a pool. It will suffer very little frost damage and takes all the arizona you can give it. Watering every 4-7 days during the warm season should keep it happy (after about 3 years, watering every 7-10days). It can mature over 8ft in about 5 years (from 5gal), and litter is minimal and quite small, so duranta won't make a big mess in the pool. It comes in a white bloom and be sure to select non-thorn variety.

Tecoma Orange Jubilee
Covered with trumpet shaped orange blooms, it attracts the ever-friendly carpenter bees and hummingbirds. Growing over 8ft tall at about 3-4 years (from 5gal), it suffers very little frost damage and the leaf litter is an issue only after the bloom cycle. The tecoma should only require watering every 4-7 days during the warm season, and after about 3 years, you can cut back the watering to 7-10days.

Yellow Tecoma
(we trained this tecoma into a tree form - approx. 5years old)

Both can be planted anytime of the year, however, right now during the hot season, expect leaf burn and signs of stress. (it would be ideal to plant below 100* degrees.) These plants will not require fertilizing after planting, however, fertilizing doesn't hurt them.