From colorful plants and amazing varieties of foliage, there is a lot to love about gardening in the desert. You have an ever-expanding palette of desert-adapted plants that are outstanding for their toughness, color and attractive bloom. Gardening in the desert is very different from other climates, and can be very rewarding. Here are some tips to help you grow a successful desert garden.
How to Succeed in the Desert Garden:
- Use native plants and those adapted to the desert. Don’t plant invasive plants.
- Plant bare-root trees and shrubs, lettuces, spinach and herbs and wildflower seeds in spring.
- Before digging, soak the soil.
- Fill planting holes with water to assess drainage. Holes should drain in 12-24 hours. If they don’t, you may have caliche or hardpan clay. Use a mattock, pick ax or digging bar to create drainage pathways.
- Don’t add organic matter to planting holes. Organic matter can hold water and cause root rot.
- Spread a 2-3” layer of mulch around plants to insulate roots and keep soil moist. Use biodegradable mulch in planting beds and decomposed granite on paths.
- Javelina, rabbits, skunks and other wildlife can be real garden pests. Keep food and water out of their reach and secure compost and trash cans. Try planting vegetables and flowers in large containers. Build a secure fence or wall.
- Control weeds with pre-emergent herbicide, but don’t use within 4 weeks of laying seed.