Fruit, Berries, Nuts
Long- and/or Winter-Blooming
Dealing with Critters
Digging Holes for Plants
Fruit: Selection, Cultivation
Garden Bed: Sterilizing
Gardening Schedule Zone 9b
Gardening Schedule Zone 8b
GM / Organic Foods
Landscaping Desert Gardens
Oracle: Weather, Wildflowers
USDA Hardiness Zones
Trees: Planting and Watering
Tree Schedule Zone 8b
Watering Shrubs and Perennials
NURSERIES / SUPPLIES
Landscaping Desert Gardens
Landscape architecture includes walls used to create shade, divert wind, and provide privacy; raised garden beds that provide soil drainage and keep rabbits away, walkways and steps to direct traffic and make climbing easier; and rock or masonry channels that divert water and prevent erosion.
Start your garden design with a list of plants to be used, and their needs. Group plants according to their water requirements. This allows for efficient watering by group, and takes less time. Also group plants into those that can handle full sun and those that need part shade, especially western shade.
On paper, position trees and shrubs spaced according to their mature width. Do not be fooled by the appearance of a tree when young. It will outgrow its 3-5 foot width and become, depending on species, a 15-30 foot wide tree. Trees that are 30' wide need to be 30' apart from each other and from houses. Trees with aggressive side roots need to be 30' apart to avoid competition.
In your garden design, create microclimates by careful placement of 4-8' high walls, raised garden beds and earthen mounds around low areas for water collection. Keep the sun's path both winter and summer in mind while doing this. Also plan arrangements of tall shrubs and trees that can provide shade for other plants. The mature size of trees should be proportionate to the total area covered by the walls if you have an enclosed garden. Smaller walled enclosures need smaller trees or large shrubs instead.
Select young trees to plant that come in 5 gallon containers rather than very large ones. They will require less water initially and grow to the same size as bigger trees. They are also more adaptable and less likely to fail. Avoid large, water-hogging trees such as Western Cottonwood, Sycamore, Aspen, or ornamental fruit trees that will rob water from other plants.
Double masonry walls can be built, a tall outside wall and a lower inside wall, about 18-24" apart. Filling the space between them with soil provides a well-drained, linear space for flowering perennials or garden herbs.
During a drought, run stored rainwater or tap water into these low areas to provide needed water. Pools for a group of plants can be flooded every two to four weeks. Individual trees can be set up with their own basins to collect rainwater and flood their roots to the drip line every one to four weeks. This is especially necessary for fruit trees.
A rainwater collection system that collects rainwater from a roof and stores it in large barrels will help provide water when rains fail.
Use mulch that is suited to each plant. Mulch reduces evaporation from the soil. Penstemons, for example, prefer crushed decomposed granite, which provides nutrients, or small gravel. But avoid using only rock for the landscape to avoid a moonscape look. Bare soil between plants in the desert is fine. However, some plants benefit from organic mulch made of bark or leaves over their roots.
See also Microclimates and Plant Placement.
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