Desert summers are brutal and scorching, killing tender plants and baking the earth into a hard shell. The heat and relentless sunshine make maintaining a garden during summer an extremely challenging task, if not one that is impossible. With some preparation by your custom homes builder or professional landscaper, your garden can flourish despite Mother Nature’s best efforts.
Choose the Right Plants
For new homeowners, consult with your custom homes builder about the best plants for a low maintenance, desert-proof garden. Avoiding plants that won’t survive the heat of a July day will help you avoid frustration from the beginning. The landscape professional you work with can work out a garden design that is both beautiful and hardy, using certain varieties of plants together for great results, arranging plants sensibly together for watering and maintenance needs, and planting varieties native to the area and therefore more accepting of the harsh weather to come. For residents who have been in their home for a longer period of time, find a great gardener with expertise in the techniques of Arizona summer gardening, and don’t be afraid to ask for references.
When your custom homes builder establishes your irrigation system, they typically do with the potential for the system to be expanded if necessary. When designing, ask them to make sure the plants are arranged in such a way that plants of similar water needs are in the same area, water is not wasted by running off of a sloping surface, and water is distributed only on plants, and not over driveways and sidewalks. The watering schedule should be set to water in the morning and evening during the summer so that plants can absorb as much water as possible before it evaporates into the dry air.
Some plants cannot tolerate the hot summer sun, but can withstand heat perfectly well. In cases like these, ask your custom homes builder to establish these varieties in an area that receives shade for much of the day. Have shade-loving plants located in the shadow of a beautiful tree, or have a pergola built. Awnings are also helpful in keeping plants cooler and more vibrant during the summer.
Protect Vulnerable Roots
Tender plants will often die because of sun exposure on their delicate stems and new growth. Young trees can be sheltered by having your custom homes builder or gardener paint their slender trunks with diluted white latex paint, which serves as a form of sunblock for them. Using mulch around smaller plants will help retain moisture and shade roots. Plant ground cover species around taller plants for additional benefits of protection.
Don’t Forget the Wind
Though heat is the standard topic of concern during summer, Arizona garden lovers should not forget monsoons and dust storms. It is critical for the survival of delicate plants that they be staked or shielded in some way so the wind will not break their stalks or blow them over. Place decorative plants in heavy pots, or have a plan to bring them into the lee of the home easily if a storm approaches. After a dust storm, gently hose off plants since the accumulated dirt and dust can choke them. A windy day will also cause plants to dry out faster, so be aware of the need for a good soak in that type of weather.
Summertime in Arizona can definitely make gardening more of a challenge due the extreme weather, but with the help of your custom homes builder or skilled landscaper, your garden will remain bright and alive until the beautiful days of fall arrive.