New to Tucson: Watering Questions!

april2SFJuly 30, 2005

We just moved to Tucson from the San Francisco Bay area. I'd like to think I have a green thumb, but I've never lived in the desert. The house we bought has several mature (5-7 yrs) mesquite trees, some roses on the side of the house and a couple agave. There are other plants and some grass, but these will eventually all be taken out because we'd like to have a native yard, or at least strive for one. The previous owner has been completely overwatering from what I can tell: most of the plants, grass, citrus trees 4 times a day for 10 minutes at each watering (yes the lawn was a bog), and the mesquite and roses once a day for 30 minutes. Most everything is on drip lines, which I would really like to re-do anyway (so that the flowers and the trees aren't on the same lines).

I'm really only interested in knowing recommended watering o the mesquites (maybe deep every 10-14 days?)and the roses (every 7?). I found a great guide for watering the citrus already. There are a couple of barrel cacti and agave, watering for them?

Does anyone know of some good nursery's to get native plants? Or places to get ideas on native landscaping would be great too :)

I really appreciate any help you have!

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When we moved into the city (that lasted a year) the people before us had that 10-minute watering also. I don't know what is up with that????? But 10 minutes is so insufficient and so not deep enough. It depends if it's all been established, but Mesquite Valley Growers is the BEST nursery in Tucson. Call them and they will tell you the proper watering requirements for everything you have. They're located on Speedway I think west of Camino Seco. My thought is a good 5 hours (depending on the size and how many drip lines to a tree) once every 2 weeks. Deep is the key and at 10 minutes, I'm sure those trees will really love that slow deep water.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 11:15AM
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Pagancat(Phoenix, AZ)

Hi April, welcome to the forum!

I wanted to back up Ann's statements and add a bit. She's absolutely right about the 10 minute thing (shudder). It's bad for at least two reasons: a) you want your plant (whatever it is) to form a root system as deep as possible, away from the surface of the soil that gets so hot and dries so quickly - and roots just don't grow towards dry soil. b) Our water contains a lot of salts that collect in the soil and will kill most plants - a symptom of this can burning at the outside of leaves (although that can be a symptom of a lot of other stuff, too). Longer, deeper watering gives the water a chance to leach some of those salts away from your root system, so a couple of times a year, an even deeper watering is suggested. And if your plants have been on the 10 minute torture for long, I'd do some long waterings right now. Don't wait to fix the system, take a hose, lay it down inside of the edge of any leaves (usually the roots correspond with that line) and turn it on... slow..... for a few hours, then move it to the next spot. For a tree that can take a while. It's worth it, though. After you have watered an area, take a piece of metal - anything from a straightend hanger to a kebab stick will work. Push it into the damp soil until it begins to resist. That's how deep the water penetrated. If you want to confirm your worst fears, do it where the 10 minute water happened!

There are a least two areas that you might want to check in the FAQ section on the main "Gardening in AZ" page - it gives an outline of watering practices and also has a list of nurseries - many are in Phoenix, but there's some in Tucson too. You have some of the better cacti/ succulent nurseries in the state IMO (Bachs and Plants of the Southwest - oh, and Miles To Go, but you have to call before you go there). You *definitely* want to get up early one day and go out to the Sonoran Desert Museum for some plant ideas, as well as some wonderful animals, rocks, etc - definitely one of my faves, as well as the Tucson Botanical Garden and Tohono O'chul park. That should keep you busy for quite a while!

Welcome again, please post often, we look forward to hearing a lot from you. We like pictures a lot, too!

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 2:02PM
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The "10-minute thing" is the DEFAULT setting for the drip system.

If the power goes out, and the backup battery is dead ... it resets to the "10-minute thing".

    Bookmark   July 31, 2005 at 9:23PM
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Hi April, We live in Tucson during the winter and we love Bach's cactus nursery on Thornydale. They're very helpful and have alot of knowledge on cactus and can answer any questions you have about specific plants. Right now I'm crazy for Trichocereus and bought 2 there that are doing great in our front yard and they just keep on blooming periodically. Also the blooms are huge! Good luck and I think your gonna love Tucson.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2005 at 9:17PM
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Thanks everyone for your input! We went to Tohono Chul Park today and got some great ideas. Unfortunately the 10 minute thing wasn't accidental...some zones were set to 10 others to 8 and the last was off, so this wasn't a default reset. I'm sure I'll have a lot more to ask as I start planting!

    Bookmark   August 3, 2005 at 2:10AM
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April I hope you ate at Tohono Chul and also checked out the gift shops there. Isn't it a wonderful place?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 12:38AM
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I'm new to this and i keep reading about deep watering, can some one explain this to me. do i need to dig a trench around the tree? my neighbor told me to put 4 PVC pipe 2-3ft long into the ground and let the water drip slowly into them. I have 8 mesquite tress and there set up to a watering system to the plants, i really need some suggestions. my husband planted them about 2 1/2yrs ago and he was the one with the green thumb, he passed away 2yrs ago and i'm trying real heard to keep them alive but i don't think i'm doing to well. there still alive but there not growing very fast. any suggestion.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2009 at 10:03PM
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