For new plantings be sure to dig in
the soil amendments as deeply as you can. Ask your local
nursery if you should add chelated iron and sulfur to your
soil before planting trees and shrubs. It is probably not a
good idea to add much nitrogen fertilizer at this time of
year. Nitrogen fosters leaf growth when what you want in
winter is root growth.
Hot and Hotter. If
you plan to remove part or all of a lawn and replace it with
rock mulch, consider this: In direct summer sun the surface
temperature of the rock mulch will be over 150 degrees F.
and that heat will radiate back to your home. The new
artificial grass, which looks amazingly real, also warms up
to about 150 degrees F hot in summer sunshine. So if you are
replacing grass with rocks, be sure to plant trees or shrubs
densely enough to shade the rock mulch or your summer
cooling costs will skyrocket! You can find lists of
fast growing trees and
suitable for our hot, dry climate on our site.
shrubs we personally prefer: the desert native Hopbush
(Dodonaea viscosa) which has green or reddish leaves and an
open structure. It grows fast and becomes quite large, but
can be controlled by light pruning. Recently we visited a
garden with 8 foot high Hopbush hedges lining paths that
wound through the garden. The effect was almost like a maze,
but with the openness of the Hopbush, one could see through
the “maze walls" so there was not the sense of being
Some Like It Red.
Along with surface temperature, another factor to consider
with rock mulch is the color to choose. We all love red
sandstone and the red rock mulch created from it. We have,
however, seen some examples of changing grass to red
sandstone mulch that leave a lot to be desired
aesthetically. Red rock mulch – miles of it – recently
replaced grass in the roughs of a local golf course and it
looks like Christmas every day. The green is too green, the
red, too red. Another golf course selected white rock mulch
for their socially-responsible roughs and the glare off the
white rock is almost unbearable. Perhaps the most attractive
of the almost-no-water usage golf courses is the
Badlands in Las Vegas. They simply left the roughs in
close-to-native condition and added more light brown rock
mulch and small black boulders.
Our personal preference is the champagne color mulch
with some red in it. But if you just “gotta have
red”, install plants with gray-green foliage in and
nearby the mulch. In areas throughout the West where
red sandstone predominates, Mother Nature supports
gray-green plants. The colors complement each other.
retired? Still need more income?
Read the best-selling guide to 69+
ways to earn extra money.
To follow up on the news in the September
newsletter about Mesquite trees (Prosopis) in
Ethiopia – yes, Australia
has a severe mesquite problem.
The tree, which was initially introduced in the mid-1800s
for shade and cattle fodder has become an infestation in
large areas of the country, with dense stands of mesquites
overtaking grazing lands. The cattle that feed upon the
mesquites are also the ones spreading the seeds around. The
Australian government has embarked on a vigorous eradication
program, using fire, chemicals and a mesquite-loving moth,
but with limited success. The mesquite has also been
introduced into the Caribbean, India , throughout North Africa and even in parts of China. It may
turn out that Mesquites are the trees that will rule the