Desertscape - or desert landscape - unlike landscape anywhere else must be surrounded by hard material such as DG (decomposed granite) or 3/8-inch gravel (also granite) or larger it’s ¾ inch Gravel or River rock. This gives the landscape a clean finished look and also keeps the weeds away. Of all the materials DG is the most simple look with the least texture. It is also the least expensive. It comes in several different colors, most of them earth tones but also gray, off white and an earthy red. The only downside of DG is that it does not do well in the rain. In other words, it should not be placed under roof lines where there’s a lot of water runoff. However, 3/8-inch gravel is very good for water runoff or roof run off. It is also a very clean look just with a little bit more texture. I do not recommend using larger gravel as your main ground cover. Not only does it create a very heavy look but it retains a lot more heat and consequently is not good for plant material. Using three-q...

Placing boulders in desert landscape adds a dramatic element as well as changing the look and dimensions of the design. Boulders are a great investment; they require no maintenance, no water and they can’t die – so no down side to the investment. They come in many different colors and of course sizes. However, it’s very important to pick the right size boulder for the area of placement so as not to overwhelm your yard or the plant material. When doing a design, I like to place boulders in groupings of three or place them alone. They can be placed laying flat or can be placed upright. Any boulder over a quarter of a ton will require a crane placement. There is usually a minimum of 2 hours for a crane to place boulders. For smaller properties or backyards, I do not recommend using larger boulders as there is usually no crane access for backyards. Any boulder a quarter of a ton or less can be placed by manual labor and a rock dolly.

Boulders are always the first element of a new landscape...

Springtime in the desert is the time for fertilizing. Start with citrus trees. All citrus trees should be fertilized starting when it begins to get warmer. Usually at the end of February or the beginning of March. Use an organic fertilizer if possible, but any citrus fertilizer will help. Fertilize at the drip line of each tree or around each tree emitter. Dig the fertilizer into the ground a few inches down. This should be repeated every 4 to 6 weeks through the growing season or through September.

Also trim off all unwanted old and new growth so the tree can have plenty of time to grow new leaves and branches during the growing season. If your tree is newly planted, its a good idea to remove as many buds/fruit as possible. This will let the tree put all its energy into growing itself and not the fruit. Also, very young trees don’t produce great fruit, and sometimes the branches of young trees can break from the weight of the fruit.

This is also a good time to give an all purpose fertil...

Look at how adding different plants can change the curb appeal of a home. Also positioning of the lighting just creates a stunning look during the night time that can enhance the look of your landscape. Here is a picture of a home that I worked a year ago and now the plants have grown and are looking better and better.

This is the time of the year to cut everything back. Shrubs like lantana, trees that have not already trimmed (tree trimming can start in November) and any perennials that need cutting back. In the desert this is the coolest time of the year so anything that is going to go dormant will be most dormant now. The only shrubs that should not be cut back are are shrubs like bougainvillea, tacoma or ficus which really are not desert plants and are frost sensitive. These can be cut back after all risk of frost are over. By the end of February most plants will start growing again.

October can be a busy month for desert landscape. Now that it has cooled off and we are heading into our cool season there are several things that can be done with your landscape. Plants that were burned during the summer can be trimmed. Some trees can be trimmed, but best to wait till November to hard trim trees and to trim Citrus trees. It is a great time to plant new landscape as the plants will have time to get established over the winter and be strong enough to withstand the summer heat. Plants and shrubs that are either newly planted or trimmed in October still have some time for new growth. Most plants and trees go dormant by the end of November or December. October is also a very good time to fertilize all plant and trees.

September is still summer here in the desert, but the severe temperatures are usually done for the year. At least we should not expect to see 115 degrees or more. It’s time to reduce watering times to twice a day at the most and reduce the number of minutes slightly.

It is still too hot to do any trimming of burnt plants. Wait till the end of the month or October to do any trimming.

There is some very good news from the Coachella Valley Water District in case they are your water company. They have significantly increased their rebate program for turf removal. They are now offering $2.00 per square foot and will pay up to $5,000. per residential customer. You still have to apply to the program to get the rebate. Converting your landscape from grass to desert landscape can be pricey so a rebate of $5,000. can make a big difference in your total cost. See below for the information from their website.

Link to the website rebate program:

“Residential Landscape Rebate Program (requires pre-appro...

August is one of the hottest months of the year, but not as hot as June and July. We had some really extreme days of heat this June and July, which caused a lot of plant damage and death.  Many of the ficus hedges were burnt. Fortunately, unless they were young and in very hot locations, the burnt leaves will fall off and the ficus will recover and grow new leaves. Because the weather is still very hot, it is best to wait at least till the end of September to cut off all the dead leaves and branches. The increased humidity which usually happens in August can help the damaged plants recover. The cactus and agave which were damaged in the extreme heat cannot recover as easily. Once an agave leaf/frond is damaged it is damaged forever. New growth will continue from the center of the plant so if outside leaves are damaged the agave will look good again once the outer leaves are removed and new inner leaves grow.
August is a good month to fertilize with organic fertilizer, which will never...

July is the hottest month of the year in the desert. Or, supposed to be. We just had a very hot June with temperatures above 120 degrees. Here are some things to be aware of in July. 
Set irrigation clocks to at least twice a day, early morning and again in the evening. If there is an area that gets a lot of afternoon sun, a third time around 3:00 or 4:00 might be necessary. Your irrigation clock should be a “smart clock or smart meter” these irrigation clocks automatically add or reduce the amount of water according to the weather and temperature. Most of the water districts in the Coachella Valley will give you one of these clocks for free! You just have to apply for one. 
There are a few desert plants that will be affected by the extreme temperatures, and can burn. The leaves on Ficus trees and hedges will burn at extreme temperatures, mostly southern and western facing. If the ficus are well established the burnt leaves will fall off and in the next six months to a year the tr...

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