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Desert landscape

Installing and maintaining your landscape

Whether you are creating a new landscape or maintaining an existing one, keeping your yard healthy in our desert climate can be a challenge.

Summer landscape tips

Help your landscape beat the heat with these easy summer landscape tips.

Dealing with pests

Learn how to safely eliminate unwanted pests in your landscape.

Maintaining new landscapes

New plants need extra attention and watering as they take root in your yard. Mandatory watering restrictions allow for the extra watering of new plants for the first 30 days and hand-watering is allowed anytime.

During the first eight weeks, establish low-water-use and desert-adapted plants by following these watering suggestions.

  • Weeks 1 & 2: Water every 1–2 days in summer, every 3–4 days in fall, winter and spring
  • Weeks 3 & 4: Water every 3–4 days in summer, every 6–7 days in fall, winter and spring
  • Weeks 5 & 6: Water every 4–6 days in summer, every 7–10 days in fall, winter and spring
  • Weeks 7 & 8: Water every 7 days in summer, every 10–14 days in fall, winter and spring
  • After week 8: Check plants for proper drainage and signs of stress and water based on need. Water new plants if the first two inches of soil is dry and check drip emitter placement.

Landscape tips

Use these tips to keep your landscape healthy no matter what the season.

  • Adjust sprinkler heads so they don't spray walls, driveways or sidewalks.
  • Use the most efficient types of nozzles and irrigation clocks.
  • Check the sprinkler system weekly and immediately replace broken or missing sprinklers with identical parts.
  • Once a month, check the drip line for breaks and emitters for clogs or broken heads.
  • For best results, shoot for "head-to-head" coverage. That means the spray of one sprinkler should reach the head of the sprinkler closest to it. Make sure grass does not block the spray. Level all sprinkler heads to grade to prevent spray blockage or tripping hazards.
  • Adjust your irrigation clock seasonally and comply with mandatory watering restrictions.
  • Use a drip irrigation system to water trees and shrubs and water appropriately. Experts agree that running drip irrigation less frequently is much better for plants than daily watering.
  • Monitor how many minutes you can run your spray irrigation system before water begins to run off the property. Stop the cycle at that point. Allow the water to fully absorb before running another cycle.
  • Water areas in the shade about 30 percent less than sunny areas.
  • Visually assess plant health and address any problems. Hand-water stressed plants as needed.
  • Fine tune watering times for each station to account for different watering requirements due to exposure, shade and sprinkler output.
  • To eliminate runoff, set your irrigation clock to cycle 2 to 4 start times (no longer than 5 minutes each), 1 to 2 hours apart to allow water to soak into the soil. For example: water 3 times for 4 minutes, instead of 12 minutes all at once.
  • Replace the backup battery on your irrigation clock at least once a year, possibly at the same time you replace batteries in your home's smoke detectors. Power outages can cause your irrigation clock to revert to its factory settings, often watering your landscape far more than it needs or is permitted by mandatory watering restrictions.

High summer temperatures mean you’ll need to closely monitor your landscape.

  • Mandatory watering restrictions: Watering is allowed Monday through Saturday from May 1 through Aug. 31, but that doesn't mean you need to drown your yard—or even water every day—when temperatures climb. Water in early-morning hours before sunrise to lessen water lost to evaporation and daytime winds. Time-of-day restrictions prohibit watering from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Watering on Sunday is prohibited. Find your watering group.
  • Cycle and soak watering: We recommend watering lawns three times a day for four minutes during each watering.
  • Brown spots: Hand-water brown spots and check your irrigation system to ensure it is providing “head to head” coverage.
  • Extremely dry lawn: An extremely dry lawn repels water. Add a tablespoon of liquid soap to a gallon of water and drench the dried area. This breaks down the surface tension of the grass, making it easier to absorb water. Then give it a good soaking.
  • Compacted soil: Sometimes simply aerating a stressed area and giving it a good soaking solves the problem. Aeration should be done at least twice a year.
  • Leaf scorching and burning: Leaves usually are stressed because of improper watering or improper fertilization. Since both over watering and under watering can damage plant leaves, the best solution is to water deeply and infrequently. This allows oxygen in the soil, washes salts away and encourages deep rooting. Make sure you have the right fertilizer both for your specific plants and for the time of year. Some fertilizers release much faster in hot weather, increasing the potential for damage.

In the fall, a little groundwork is essential to keeping your yard water-efficient and looking great.

  • Mandatory watering restrictions: From Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, landscape watering is limited to three assigned days per week. Watering restrictions also apply to drip irrigation. Sunday is not an optional watering day. Find your watering group.
  • Cycle and soak watering: Water your lawn in three short, four-minute cycles during the early-morning hours. As weather cools, water in several, short mid-morning cycles to prevent ice formation on driveways and walks.
  • Check your irrigation system: Inspect filter screens for damage and clean them by opening the end of the filter and running water through briefly. Then, soak the screens in a 50/50 water and vinegar solution if there is mineral buildup. To flush the irrigation lines, find the end cap and briefly run the system to flush out debris. Check valve boxes for debris buildup or muddy conditions indicating poor drainage.
  • Fertilizing: Fertilize in late September or early October with a balanced mix of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Fertilizer not only improves turf quality, root growth and color—it also builds cold resistance into your grass.
  • Aerating: Compacted soils are common in the Las Vegas Valley. Aerate grass in September or October to boost water penetration, reducing runoff on slopes and helping water and fertilizer nutrients get down to the roots.
  • Planting: For great fall color, plant flowers like the black-eyed Susan and snapdragon, grasses like Regal Mist and trees like the Chinese pistache and Modesto ash. If you're the patient type, purchase fall bulbs now for planting in November. These bulbs will yield bright colors in the spring: Anemone, Daffodil, Dahlia, Gladiolus, Hyacinth, Narcissus, Ranunculus and Tulips. Explore a wide variety of plants for your landscape using our Plant Search.
  • Mulch: Mulch is the little-noticed workhorse of many a smart gardener's landscape. Mulch is a protective covering—organic or inorganic—we place in a wide circle around plants to prevent moisture evaporation, root freezing and weed growth. Using mulch can reduce evaporation by as much as 30 percent.

Winterize and protect your plants as the weather cools.

  • Mandatory watering restrictions: During the winter, sprinkler irrigation is limited to one assigned day per week. Watering restrictions also apply to drip irrigation. Sunday is not an optional watering day. Find your watering group.
  • Fall back for Daylight Savings Time: Don't forget to reset your irrigation clock when daylight saving time ends on the first Sunday in November. This also is a great time to check your clock's batteries.
  • Midmorning watering: Water in the midmorning to avoid the afternoon winds that keep your sprinklers from hitting their grass target. You also will reduce the risk of icing that can occur if you water during early morning or evening.
  • Pruning: The ideal time to prune trees and shrubs is in late winter, when plants are mostly dormant. Finish heavy pruning by mid-February, before buds show evidence of swelling. Don't prune more than one-quarter of the living tissue during the year.
  • Planting: February is usually mild enough to allow you to plant petunias, pansies, snapdragons and other cool-season annuals in a well-drained, highly enriched soil. Adding protective mulch on the soil around your plants will conserve water so you don't have to water as often.
  • Leave damaged plants alone: If you notice frost or a freeze has damaged a plant, leave it alone until warmer weather arrives and new growth appears. Pruning or transplanting a damaged plant during winter months can hurt or even kill it.
  • Revive roses: Fertilize established rose bushes now to encourage spring blooms and put down a 3-inch layer of mulch around each plant. Always water before and after applying fertilizer.
  • Fertilize fruit plants: Peak blooming season is in the spring, and the best time to fertilize fruit trees and grapes is the six weeks before and after they bloom. Fertilize in late winter for the finest fruit.
  • Protect pipes and hoses: There are several steps you can take to protect the pipes and hoses in your home and landscape from cold weather:

    • Disconnect and drain garden hoses when they are not being used.
    • Insulate your irrigation backflow device by draping a towel over it and cover with a bucket or other protective cover that touches the ground. Never obstruct or seal the ports of a backflow protection device.
    • Wrap exposed irrigation pipes with pipe insulation, insulated "faucet socks," an old towel or duct tape.
    • Set heat to 55 degrees when you're away to protect pipes and houseplants.
    • Turn off the water valves to your washing machine to avoid flooding from burst hoses.
    • Don't leave interior or exterior pipes dripping. Valley temperatures generally don't drop low enough for a long enough period of time to warrant it.
    • Locate your water shut-off valve and learn how to turn off water at its source, so you can ward off damage from leaks or burst lines. Know how to turn off your irrigation backflow device as well.
  • Pool tips: Reduce risks to your pool and/or spa from freezing conditions by following some of these tips:

    • During freezing temperatures run the filtration pump and jet pumps continuously.
    • Adjust pool and spa jets upwards to reduce surface freezing.
    • Maintain proper pool water level at all times.
    • Have all air and water leaks repaired.
    • Remove and store all pool accessories in a clean, dry area.
    • You should also consult with your pool maintenance company to see about winterizing your pool.

Get outdoors! Enjoy the nice weather by adding some new plants to your landscape.

  • Mandatory watering restrictions: During March and April, landscape irrigation is limited to three assigned days per week. Watering restrictions also apply to drip irrigation. Sunday is not an optional watering day. Find your watering group.
  • Spring ahead for Daylight Saving Time: Don't forget to set your irrigation clock ahead an hour when daylight saving time begins on the second Sunday in March. This also is a great time to check your clock's batteries.
  • Check your irrigation system: Inspect filter screens for damage and clean them by opening the end of the filter and running water through briefly. Then, soak the screens in a 50/50 water and vinegar solution if there is mineral buildup. To flush the irrigation lines, find the end cap and briefly run the system to flush out debris. Check valve boxes for debris buildup or muddy conditions indicating poor drainage.
  • Planting: Spring is a fine time to explore what plants work best in your yard. Below are a few plants that we specifically recommend, and you can use our Plant Search tool to find more plants for your landscape.

    • Valentine Bush - Masses of tubular red flowers begin blooming in early February and continue into March. They like full sun.
    • Cassia - This shrub's bright yellow blooms appear from January through March and sporadically the rest of the year.
    • Rosemary - A good companion plant for the cassia, rosemary blooms during the same periods.
    • Spanish Lavender - Expect blue spikes of color in spring and fall.
    • Autumn Sage - Don't let the name fool you. This hummingbird favorite blooms all year, but most profusely from October through April.
    • Sweet Acacia - Puffy yellowish-orange flowers perfume the air from February through April.
    • Palo Verde - Count on a shower of golden-yellow blooms beginning in March.
    • Desert Willow - Native to local washes, this tree is beloved by hummingbirds and bees and produces clusters of fragrant orchid-like blossoms, ranging from white to deep purple.
    • Texas Mountain Laurel - This tree's large purple clusters of wisteria-like flowers look as good as they smell.
    • Chaste Tree - Long, narrow spikes of purple flowers cover this shrub-like tree in early summer.