Top 10 Landscape Mistakes

Diposting oleh alexandria joseph | 02.00

From an article written by Nancy Erdmann in Phoenix Home and Garden back in April, there was a fun write on some of the things that we should not do in our gardens.  As I was reading through the 10 big mistakes, I started laughing because I think I broke every one of those rules.  We probably all have....and if you haven't, keep it to yourself:) If you're looking for a great magazine for our area, this is the one to purchase. They show million dollar homes, which I'll never be able to own.(nor would I want to:). However, the ideas in them are worth every penny.  Plus there is a gardening section that answers specific questions about plants in our area. 

Here are the top 10 Landscape Mistakes according to Phoenix Home and Garden with some commentaries at the end of each point by me:)

10.  Trying to re-create a "Back East" garden:  Choosing plants that flourish in the Midwest or on the East Coast is sure to lead to disappointment.  These plants do not stand a chance in the low desert.  You are better off going to the nursery and finding substitute plants that look similar but will thrive in our arid climate.   This is something I have written about over the past year especially concerning certain plants like maple trees or lilacs.  For example, instead of planting a lilac bush, think about planting a Mountain Laurel.  Both have purple flowers in spring and both have a heavy scented fragrance. 

9. Mistaking dormant plants for dead ones:  Ash trees, ornamental grasses, red bird of paradise and lantana are examples of plants that can appear to be dead when they actually are dormant.  If a branch snaps off easily and is dry, it's dead; if pliable and difficult to break, it's alive. Guess who did this with crepe myrtle?  One of the few mistakes I've made that I wish I could take back.  As for lantana or the Mexican bird of paradise, if you trim them, it's okay.  They will bush back into their full form.  Grasses...leave them alone.

8. Improper pruning of trees and shrubs:  Pruning shrubs into balls, stripping off a plant's lower leaves(pineappling), or creating big puffs of foliage at the ends of branches(liontailing)-all look hideous and will weaken plants.  You can maintain a clean look with healthy pruning practices.  Again, I wrote about this in a post called "Pruning Do's and Don'ts".  Two points here.  Stay home when your arborist visits and go over the plans with them.  An arborist who looks out for the health of the plant is the one you want.  Point two.  If you create "liontailing", you are creating a danger upon yourself and home.  During a microburst or strong wind storm, these trees can fall or lose large limbs.  Think about what it is you are trying to do.  We had a Tucsonan here who didn't care about the tree as long as they could see the Santa Catalina mountains.  It's just shocking what some people will ask or do.

7. Using one drip system for everything:  Trees, turf, cacti and pots all have different watering needs.   Ideally, an irrigation system should be set up by watering zones so that your plants get exactly what they need. My recommendation is that you create 3 zones.  The outer zone is where you'd put your native trees and shrubs.  The secondary zone is for trees or shrubs that need regular watering and nearest to your home and/or patio where you have coffee. You may decide fruit trees etc go there.  The third zone is the higher maintenance of the group and one that requires more watering.  This is usually the potted group.

6.  Over-watering plant material: Watering more than is necessary invites rot, fungus and disease, on top of wasting our most precious resource.  A simple solution is to turn the irrigation controller off when it rains(don't forget to reprogram it each season). Also, check for leaks and breaks in the system annually.
We are all guilty of this.  Overwatering kills more plants than not watering.  Phoenix is guiltier of this than Tucson especially with all their lawns and grass. But I'm not pointing fingers:)

5. Planting in poor-draining soil:  Well-blended soils provide great drainage and encourage amazing root growth.  Poor-draining soils lead to root rot.  Amend soil with oranic matter for non-natives and  sand/pumice for native plants.  Blend amendments into the soil to avoid creating a compacted layer that will limit root growth.

4. Planting too deeply:  People tend to plant too deeply, which often results in the demise of vegetation.  This holds especially true for trees and often seems to manifest after a plant has matured, making replacement expensive.....and going back to the drawing board.  Sometimes this happens 2-5 years down the road after the plant has grown large and healthy.  That is the kicker......

3.  Lack of plant continuity or repetition:  I call these "dog's lunch" landscapes, where there is a little of everything thrown in with no composition.  Plant nuts can be the worst offenders.  But is is easy to solve by selecting a few theme plants to repeat throughout the garden to pull it all together.   My personal themed plants are several fruit trees, oleander, xylosma, heavenly bamboo, bamboo, citrus groves.....the only thing out of whack at El Presidio is the random large palm tree growing on our property.  I have created a triangle of baby palms that will make this older California palm fit in.

2.  Buying plants without considering their size at maturity:  People forget how big plants will get when they see them at the nursery.  Be sure to determine the space that established plants will need so that they can grow to their full potential.  Also consider the roots of those trees....some are aggressive and will find pipes while others spread out on the top of the soil.  My experiment is creating a rainforest like canopy with a trees mature height in mind. 

1.  Not understanding your plants' needs:  There is a tendency to purchase a plant that looks good at the nursery without a basic understanding of its ultimate size, frost sensitivity, exposure and soil requirements.  Do your homework, and in the end it will save you time and money. "  End of report and personal stories:)

These are the 10 Commandments that we should live by.....I'd also like to add....when in the desert environment, don't create lawns that require high watering and grass.  Wait!!  That goes to Number 10:)  Lawns are for people back home.  We are the desert so let's create something unique for our area that doesn't require this wasteful idea.  Phoenix are you listening?  Tucson does a good job with this:)  Until next time......

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