Connecting Greater Phoenix gardeners with information that helps put xeriscape principles into action.

Gardening Tip: Tracking Tool for Your Desert Garden

PlantJotter.comOK, so…I have a fascination with cool apps that can help me do something better.  (Heard about Key Ring?  You can get rid of all those wallet-hogging grocery store cards by scanning them into your phone.  Just pull up the “card” you need from the list and scan your phone at the register!)

Anyway, my Mom pointed me to, a site that helps you keep track of your plants.  You can add plants, put them in locations, set up maintenance schedules, keep track of resources (be sure to add,  and note what’s working and what’s not.

This is sweet!  Currently, my maintenance schedule is somewhere in my head and I swear one day that I’ll write it all down.  But this swearing most often occurs after I’ve forgotten to do something and the damage has been done.

So I’m taking for a test drive.  I’ve noticed a few things that I might call glitches.  There’s no place to add botanical names (too many plants with the same common name makes it way too confusing).  Native and desert-adapted xeriscape plants that do well in our Phoenix desert gardens are often missing…a common problem with gardening resources and the biggest reason why we created this site.  And there’s no way to set up recurring schedules for tasks, such as monthly fertilizing or watering.  Each task has to be scheduled separately.

But they’ll figure these things out one day.  Until then, I’m gonna figure out how to make this thing work for me so my desert plants aren’t at the mercy of my brain!

Gardening Tip: How to Find a Smart Landscape Professional

Using a Leaf BlowerSorry so long between posts…I’ve been tied up in the garden.  Sigh…it makes me want to hire a landscape professional!

Knowing more about desert gardening means that I want to do more and more.  But if you’re strapped for time or less than knowledgeable about desert landscape maintenance, you might want to hire the appropriate professional.  Trouble is…where do you find them?

Well, Phoenix has a boatload of people who do what we call “blow ‘n go.”  These are the guys who sweep in with jet packs on their backs and tote chainsaws for a Texas-sized massacre of your plant life.  From what I can tell, they’re either paid by how much noise they make, how much dust they blow around, or how many shapes they can form from your shrubs.  Or all three.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they focused instead on testing and fixing your irrigation system?  Or on cleaning up your trees a bit, and doing some selective pruning on your xeriscape plants?   How about if they came in and did their work without disturbing the peace…or provoking an allergic reaction?

Lucky for us, these landscape professionals DO exist here in Phoenix.  Smartscape Certified Landscapers receive training in design, renovation and maintenance of desert-adapted xeriscape plants, drip irrigation design and installation, water management and irrigation controllers, and solutions to plant problems.

You can also contact the Desert Botanical Garden for a list of Certified Desert Landscape Professionals.  These Desert Landscape School graduates have completed a minimum of seven months of intensive training in landscaping with desert-adapted plants.

With a little digging, you’re sure to find someone who cares more about helping you manage your desert landscape than about operating a power tool!



The Scourge of the Desert: Mistletoe

Mistletoe Infestation in the Phoenix Mountain PreserveIn my last post, I talked about how plants in the desert fare compared to our watered xeriscape plants in our Greater Phoenix landscapes.  With adequate water, our desert landscape plants thrive while the same plants living in our drought-stricken desert become vulnerable to diseases and pests.

Mistletoe is one of those infestations that often attack trees and shrubs living in the desert.  Spread primarily by birds, mistletoe attaches itself to a host plant and begins drawing the nutrients from the host.  Very quickly it will spread and begin growing out of the host plant, and eventually destroy it.

If you see the beginnings of a mistletoe infestation in any of your xeriscape plants, some judicious pruning of the affected areas can remove it.  But it’s also a signal that your plant probably needs water.

Oh, and this is the same mistletoe (from the same family) that we rush to kiss under at Christmas time.  I don’t think of that tradition in the same way anymore…


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