Ron Dinchak spent 42 years as an environmental educator at Mesa Community College. Although he is retired, today he gives talks about the environment and teaches classes at the Veterans Oasis Park. He has also written a book called Landscape Plants for Southwest Arizona.
Mr. Dinchak explained how the deserts are becoming bigger. One of the culprits is over grazing of grasslands. Another is mismanagement of the grasslands. And we are no longer nomadic people, so we over use the land.
The rainy seasons are from late November to mid-February and the monsoon season is from mid-June to mid-September. The first precipitation comes from the Pacific and is much longer in duration. This allows the water to penetrate the soil. The second season, known as the monsoon, does not cover the entire state, is more violent and does not permit the water to soak in. The central Arizona Water Project was created in 1985 to bring more water to the state to help the agricultural community.
There are many kinds of plants at nurseries. Be sure to find out where they are from. That is the key to determining how they will grow in your yard. Drought-scapes do well with ephemerals which are annuals and desert wild flowers. Drought-deciduous trees are dormant during hot time and will bloom when it is cooler. Lastly, drought resistant plants and trees are active all year. An example of this kind of plant is the Palo Verde Yucca.
When landscaping your yard it is extremely important to have a plan and some objectives. If you need assistance go to chandleraz.gov/water or call 480-732-3580. The most important item in your plan is sustainability. That cannot be said loudly enough. Create a wildlife habitat, plants that will provide nourishment to bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, just to name a few. This can be done in a fruit, vegetable or herb garden too. The insects will control themselves. If you must use pesticides, use them very sparingly. Drip irrigation systems are most functional. However, with them there is a salt build up around the roots of the plant. Rain water will leach the salt away but you can’t depend on Mother Nature to do that for you. So collect rain water. Use this water in spring and later summer and the roots will grow deeper. Happy gardening!