The short term solution to this is
to add chelated iron to the ground around the affected
plants. Chelated iron is available at your local
nursery. The longer term solution is to add a lot of
organic material to the soil to balance its pH. The
addition of sulfur will also improve the soil and combat
chlorosis. Chlorosis may also occur in water-logged
soils as well as dry desert soils.
We recently saw a sizeable front yard that had been
converted from water-slurping lawn to desert rock mulch.
Overall, it was done nicely. But the homeowners made
the mistake of planting a dense row of roses along the
walkway. Roses, while they grow and bloom beautifully
in hot climates, do not belong in a true xeriscape garden
where they receive only infrequent irrigation. They
simply need too much water.
Big Rocks, Little Rocks.
Many homeowners are choosing single size rock mulch for
their flower beds or lawn replacement. You can achieve
a much more natural effect by adding some larger size rocks
to your desert landscape. By larger size we do not
necessarily mean big, expensive boulders. Rocks up to
the size of your fist will help create the natural look when
combined with smaller rock mulch. This is very
attractive if your landscape area includes a berm, a mounded
area. On the berm, place a few larger rocks near the
base of the mound to give the impression that these rocks
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Rock mulch can reach temperatures of 150 degrees F. (65 degrees C.) in
direct sunlight. At the end of the day the rock
releases all that heat back into the air around your home,
increasing demands on your air conditioning. We
strongly advise homeowners to plant
the rock mulch to shade it and keep temperatures down.
Local Drought Conditions.
Our friends in Australia are enduring a hideous drought that
has begun to have an impact on their food supply by damaging
crops and curtailing ranching. So far in the U. S. we
have not experienced this extreme condition nationwide.
To find out how severe the drought conditions are in your
local area, however, go to
Even in drought conditions, native plants
tend to survive longer. The Theodore Payne Foundation
just north of Burbank, California specializes in native
plants and seeds as well as offering classes. You can
find them online at