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Jaci Jensen
Jaci Jensen

Home Smart Elite Group
Glendale, AZ 85308

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AZ Landscape - Conserve Water

Arbor Day is Friday!

Friday, April 26th is Arbor Day, a special day set aside to encourage the planting and proper care of trees.  It has been 147 years since J. Sterling Morton founded Arbor Day. His simple idea of setting aside a special day for tree planting is now more important than ever. The 1st official Arbor Day was created by Morton and celebrated in Nebraska in 1872. In the years following that first Arbor Day, Morton’s idea spread beyond Nebraska and today all 50 states celebrate Arbor Day.

So what do trees have to do with saving water? Let’s take a look:

1. A well-placed tree can reduce energy use in your home up to 40 percent. Did you know that the electrical power industry is one of the greatest consumers of water for cooling and other processes? This means that saving energy ultimately saves water. Find some great design and tree placement tips in the Water – Use It Wisely design section.

Properly-placed trees can provide much-needed shade for a home and add beauty to the landscape.

2. In central Arizona, it has been found that up to 70 percent of water use is outdoors, so watering your yard efficiently is one of the best and easiest ways to save water. However, there are so many trees available that are beautiful, functional and low-water using. Check out the plant selection guide on our site of low-water-use trees, shrubs and more we make available on our site. You can also search for trees, shrubs, ground covers, succulents, and more in this free online plant guide, Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert from our water partner, AMWUA.

3. Plants don’t save water, people do! Okay, so trees can’t provide every benefit. We know they help clean pollutants from the air, replace CO2 with oxygen, reduce water pollution and provide great habitat for wildlife. However, to really save water, they have to be watered properly by you. Water – Use It Wisely has a simple guide to help keep your plants healthy and beautiful while saving thousands of gallons of water a year in your landscape. Just check out our Landscape Watering by the Numbers: A Guide for the Arizona Desert.

If you’re ready to celebrate Arbor Day by planting a tree, we’ve got one more helpful resource. Our Planting Trees and Shrubs guidelines will teach you the latest University of Arizona planting recommendations for best success.

Here is some more Arbor Day inspiration from Arizona Nursery Association. Happy Planting!

If you are looking for more information about choosing, planting, and caring for your trees, be sure to check out these other articles:

The post Arbor Day is Friday! appeared first on Water Use It Wisely.

Plant of the Month: Chuparosa | Plants for Birds – Part 2

The Hummingbird’s Choice Award goes to … Chuparosa!

If Arizona’s hummingbirds could vote on a state flower, it would be Chuparosa (Justicia californica). A mainstay of most wildlife gardens, this long-suffering desert beauty asks little and gives much.  It can be grown long and lanky, spindly branches vining into trees — or pruned to take on a more civilized appearance. Either way, gardeners are treated to lipstick-like blooms almost year round. Hummingbirds, too, highly endorse the profuse blossoms that fit the textbook description of a hummingbird flower: tubular and red. Very rarely one might encounter a plant with yellow or orange flowers … and rest assured that the hummingbirds make good use of these as well.

These beautiful red blossoms of the Chuparosa, when opened, will provide a much-sought-after source of nectar for hummingbirds. Photo by Steve Prager.

Tolerant of poor soils, drought conditions, and even the blazing sun, Chuparosa is truly a wonder plant. Although difficult (at least for me) to propagate from cuttings, it will readily self-seed. The seed pods themselves are delightful, tiny boxing-glove-shaped affairs that will bust apart with force upon ripening. What a marvelous way for this plant to fling seeds every which way!  Those that accuse Chuparosa of a rangy, weedy appearance need only chastise themselves and take to the plant with a pair of shears. Gentle now, those green stems do double-duty; the plant is drought deciduous and can photosynthesize through the stems. Although Chuparosa can get frost nipped below 32 degrees, they are hearty to the mid-20s and will spring back to life from the roots when the temperature warms — just prune back the damaged areas.

The lovely red flowers of the Chuparosa are a colorful addition to this collection of desert-adapted plants. Photo by Steve Plager.

Chuparosa typically grows to a four-foot mound, and the blooming plant is a sight to behold. The next time you find yourself enjoying one, let your ears partake, too. Listen closely for a new springtime sound: the wing buzz of a Black-chinned Hummingbird. Like the hum of a very small light-saber, this unique noise means that there’s a new (and hungry) kid in town. Fresh from a winter vacation in Mexico, Black-chinned Hummingbirds return to Arizona to find a mate, nest, raise young, and prepare for fall migration. Their arrival heralds spring and reminds us that our lovely gardens can provide critical resources for migratory birds.

Yellow bells add a vibrant splash of color to the landscape, blooming from April through November. The bright, bell-shaped flowers attract hummingbirds. Photo by Donna DiFrancesco.

Besides the Chuparosa, there are many other desert-adapted plants that will attract hummingbirds. Here are a few suggestions from our previous Plant of the Month features:

Still not sure what to plant for birds? Check out Audubon’s Native Plant Database.

And if you’re looking to add additional shrubs, trees, and groundcovers to your landscape, take a look at our Plant of the Month archives to find just the right plant.

Water – Use It Wisely is proud to feature guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. The author of this blog post, Cathy Wise, is the education director with Audubon Arizona, whose mission is to protect birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation.

Photographer Steve Plager is an important bird area program associate & teacher/naturalist with Audubon Arizona. 

Photographer Donna DiFrancesco is a water conservation coordinator with the City of Mesa.

The post Plant of the Month: Chuparosa | Plants for Birds – Part 2 appeared first on Water Use It Wisely.

Can You Over-Water Your Plants in the Desert? We Asked a Local Plant Expert!

As most would expect, water is considered a precious resource in the desert. But, did you know that there are more plant problems caused due to over-watering then under-watering?

Believe it or not, it is true. Most people are surprised to hear that up to 70 percent of residential water usage goes to watering trees and plants in your landscape. This high percentage is because many homeowners overwater their trees and plants.

During college, I was fortunate to intern at the City of Mesa Water Conservation Office. The lessons that I learned there would last a lifetime. Nowadays, when I visit clients to help them with their landscapes, over 90 percent of the time I find that their irrigation schedule is incorrect — they water too lightly and too often.

Beautiful desert blooms: Beavertail Prickly Pear (Opuntia basilaris) and Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

This results in shallow roots and salt build-up in and around the root zone. (If you have seen a white substance around your plants, there is a good chance that it is the salts from the soil. And just an FYI — just like high amounts of salt are not good for us, they are not good for plants either.)

Overwatering will weaken your plants, especially during the summer since their roots are close to the surface where they become hot and can dry out much more quickly.

It’s important to note that plants need to be watered deeply, which does two things. First, it causes the roots to grow deeper into the soil, where it is cooler and stays moister longer. Secondly, it helps to reduce the salts in the soil and keeps them away from the root zone.

Your plants do not need the same amount of irrigation all year. Plants follow the weather — the hotter it is, the more water they need and when temperatures dip, the less that they need.  For example, I water my garden once every 20 days in the winter, (excluding grass and annuals), and it is healthy and looks great.  If you only take one thing from this article, then please let it be this. CHANGE THE WATERING SCHEDULE ON YOUR IRRIGATION CONTROLLER SEASONALLY.

Now, you are probably asking, “How do I know what schedule my plants and lawn should be on?”  Well, the folks at Water – Use It Wisely are coming to your rescue. They have excellent information for the homeowner on the proper irrigation schedule for your plants. You can view it here: Landscape Watering Guide

This guide was made for people who reside in the Phoenix metropolitan area. However, people who live in dry climates everywhere will find useful information regarding irrigation. **Most cities have information for their residents regarding watering schedules for their local climate. You can also contact your local cooperative extension office who often have this information as well.

Trailing Yellow Dot (Wedelia trilobata), Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida), Desert Spoon (Dasylirion wheeleri)

If you find that you have been over-watering your plants, make sure that when you switch to the correct irrigation schedule, that you gradually change the schedule so that your plants have a chance to adjust

Making sure you have the correct irrigation schedule lets you have healthier plants, a lower water bill, and helps conserve water.

**For those of you not familiar with drip irrigation. The primary way the southwest waters their plants. Water is brought to the plant by a series of plastic pipes, tubing, and emitters. The emitters drip water slowly to the root zone of the plant, reducing runoff and allowing the water to permeate deeply into the soil, which saves water.

This article originally appeared in October 2009 and is being republished with permission. Water – Use It Wisely is proud to feature guest bloggers who write about topics related to water and water conservation. The author of this blog, Noelle Johnson, is an urban horticulturist, certified arborist, and freelance garden-writer who helps people create beautiful, low-maintenance gardens through helpful advice on her blog She is passionate about teaching people about the amazing desert plants that thrive in our landscapes.

The post Can You Over-Water Your Plants in the Desert? We Asked a Local Plant Expert! appeared first on Water Use It Wisely.

Jaci Jensen | 602-295-6797 Contact Me
17215 North 72nd Drive, Suite 115 - Glendale, AZ 85308
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