Water and Earth Part 2

For hot climates, the focus is a little different. Shade in summer becomes the priority, and trees that would ordinarily lose their leaves often do so at odd times. For example, some desert plants lose their leaves in summer, when leaves become a water liability. Or they might lose their leaves extremely late, such as December or January, even after new growth starts coming in. But, because winters are so mild, keeping a house warm is not a priority. Evergreens such as pine trees or Eucalyptus are good choices, since they provide year round shade.

Water and earth are also important considerations. In desert climates, water is a valuable resource, and a lot of it is needed in order to make plants flourish. In order to have a lush yard or garden in the desert without losing a fortune on a water bill, make sure the water goes to the plants only. There are several ways to accomplish this. One is by watering only at night. This is doubly true for sprinklers. Watering at night, when the temperature is lowest, minimizes evaporation. During a summer day in Phoenix, sprinklers can lose up to 30% of their water by evaporation.

Another way to manage water is to use low-flow drip irrigation. This type of irrigation uses a narrow gauge line to deliver water at a very low rate directly to the root area. Ideally, the water will be absorbed by the ground at the same rate that it emerges from the irrigator. Because the water does not sit above ground for very long, evaporation is minimal. Again it’s best to run drip systems at night for a few hours.

Desert plants are an economically sound option for hot, dry places. Cactus is the first thing many people think of, but Texas sage and brittlebush are good choices for landscaping around outdoor living spaces such as an outside fireplace or eating area. Especially if children will be present, these non-thorny but heat-hardy plants can brighten any area.