Advice for beginner in Antelope Valley, CA?

Michele_C(z8 CA)July 1, 2003

I'm embarrassed to say that I've never gardened before but am determined to learn. Is it difficult to learn how to grow and care for cacti and native California and Arizona plants?

My husband and I need to come up with a landscape design to work from for our yard and those are the kinds of plants that I am most attracted by. I especially love Palo Verde trees.

I have no idea what kind of soil we have here, except in our backyard it is hard as a rock.

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Contact your local water company, and ask the city if they have any gardening info. The county would have information too.

Check my page on how to plan:

    Bookmark   July 2, 2003 at 9:22AM
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Michele_C(z8 CA)

Thanks for the advice. I will check out your website. I will also get in contact with our local water agency. The City of Palmdale has a landscaping ordinance and a list online of acceptable plants. I'll print out that list.


    Bookmark   July 2, 2003 at 1:23PM
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BunnyHug(z8 CA)

Hi Michele....we also live in Palmdale, CA. While we don't have a drought tolerant garden, I would be happy to answer any questions you may have on things that grow in our landscaping: roses, iris, lilacs, pine trees, juniper shrubs, Raywood Ash, fruit trees, daylillies, jasmine, camellias, etc.
Feel free to e-mail me.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2003 at 7:44PM
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I'm native to Palmdale,Ca.
If it's not sand(soft)it's clay. Get some mulch and a pick axe.Or a mattox.I grow a lot of non-natives beause I grew up gardening that way.All of my flowers are xeriscape flowers that need very little water.When I move to TX next year it will be all native plants. I like flowers. Native flowers include,but are not limited to,California Poppies,Datura, Prickly Pear,Purple Sage and Mojave Aster.and no-kill Bermuda Grass.(Just joking Bermuda Grass was dropped here by hostile aliens from outer space.)Trees include Desert Willow,Mesquite,and Joshua"Trees"(actualy a Lily) Joshuas are sharp and ahve a tendency to fall down and squish things,however.PJ

    Bookmark   July 9, 2004 at 9:23PM
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Oneida(SCal z8)

I'm in Lancaster and have planted a hummingbird and butterfly garden using different salvias, butterfly bushes, agastaches (hummingbird mint), desert penstemons and the like, most of which are fairly xeric (water thrifty) once they are well established.

A good local place for plants is the Antelope Valley Resource Conservation District nursery at 10148 W. Ave. I, which has trees, shrubs and perennials (some of which are native) that do well in the AV. One gallon plants are only $2.00 and they also have seeds for $1/packet. I forget the hours, so call 942-7306 to see when it's open.

For a good online resource, check out Mountain Valley Growers, which is in Zone 8 in the Central Valley where it also gets very hot in the summer, so most of their plants also do well here. They've got a great selection of ornamental sages and all of the plants I've gotten from them have done very well.

Another good online resource is High Country Gardens, which specializes in water-thrifty perennials well-suited for both desert heat and cold.

As PJ notes, it sounds like you have clay soil if your ground is hard. Unfortunately, most plants don't do well in clay, so her advice about digging in lots of organic material (compost, composted manure, etc.) before planting anything is good. You might also consider adding some gypsum (also sold as plaster, plaster of Paris, and calcium sulphate) and sand. It's a lot hard work digging all that in, but your plants will do a lot better.

I like PJ's list of native plants, too, but be careful with datura if you have children, as even very small amounts are very toxic if ingested.

Good luck with your new garden!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2004 at 3:40AM
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Thanks Oneida!I didn't even know about that nursery which is right by my house!Excellent prices. Thanks for the heads up on the Datura. I forgot to post one. I have to basically landscape for very easy maintenance to sell my house! Thanks a ton. PJ

    Bookmark   July 10, 2004 at 7:25PM
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I live in Palmdale. I recently dug up my front yard because I think it is a terrible waste of resources keeping that lawn watered. It just doesn't seem right to me. Not to mention the money I save on my water bill.

I never knew about Mountain Valley Growers. I will have to check them out come spring time.

Wow... I just noticed how old this post is... oh well.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2010 at 2:18PM
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jordanz(8A (Mojave Desert))

Yes, it's most definitely clay soil (I live in cal city). What I did before planting my TF lawn and all my flowers and garden, was get a truck load of humus (or compost). I got it from these guys in Lancaster:

It's only $22/skip (2 skips pretty well fill a long bed truck). That was enough to mix with a 1,000 sq ft for the lawn and all my garden and flower space. It's probably 30-40% compost and the rest clay now. But you have to break out the pick axe and go to town on that clay soil for days before mixing it in. It's a lot of work, but I break up the clay to almost 1 foot down for proper drainage, then mix in all the compost (breaking up clay chuncks bigger than .5" or so).

Every year I throw some more compost on top of everything and let the water break it down into the soil on it's own. Needless to say, everything I grow has done awesome with mainly just the compost and a couple fertilizing's each year. You'll regret it if you don't break up that clay and amend it before planting, not much will grow if you don't! Good luck!

I don't know how much your water is down in AV, but I use roughly 2-3,000 Cu Ft per month and it's only ~$20/month. Well worth it for me!

    Bookmark   December 16, 2010 at 2:00PM
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I am also in the Antelope Valley (Lancaster).
I always hated having to dig for anything in my backyard. The ground was so hard!
Last year, on a whim, I bought some worms from Wal-Mart in the fishing department. I just went out to my lawn & shook them out.
This year I am doing some major re-arranging including removal of grass, putting in new sprinkler lines, changing around raised beds & it has never been easier!
The ground requires no effort to dig, only problems are from old tree roots. And the soil is just full of worms.
My front yard is the same. It is all grass & the other day I walked out to find my drive way & side walk covered with dried up worms. We haven't really had any rain & haven't watered for about a week. Don't know why they did the exodus but there were a lot of them.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2011 at 9:51AM
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This website has a lot of information

Its from the Southern California MWD, which probably supplies your water. There are pictures of drought tolerant landscapes, a plant guide, and videos.

I replaced my front yard with low water use plants several years ago. It seems like something is always blooming. There's no more lawn to mow in front, but there's still some weeding and trimming.

Here is a link that might be useful: What's Growing On?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 1:45PM
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I just bought a house in Lancaster and would appreciate some help identifying the plants in the landscaping so I can take care of them. Photos in attached link.


Here is a link that might be useful: Photos of plants in my yard

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 8:17PM
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igorbly - 1 society garlic (smelly but easy to grow), 5,6 oleander, 7 lavender, 8 fan palm

Here is a link that might be useful: What's Growing On?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 8:33PM
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Thanks, lgteacher!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 7:12PM
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I am new to Lancaster and I see some large beautiful roses. I would love to plant some since they seem to grow so well. Does anyone know which variety they are?

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 5:05PM
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T-tory, I have about 60 rose bushes in Palmdale and it's not hard to grow beautiful roses here. Try to get them into a place that has some afternoon shade against the summer heat. Amend the soil with some compost when planting. Roses here are thristy and hungry so keep them well watered and well fed. Some of the best I grow are Pope John Paul II (white), Chrysler Imperial (red), Royal Highness (pink), Blue Moon (lavender) and Just Joey (apricot). There are many more that will do well here but these are easy to find and they are all fragrant. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 4, 2013 at 1:58PM
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