Oct 15 2018Share

Free Classes: Create A Colorful Yard Every Season

By Warren Tenney

With a little strategy and knowledge, it’s easy to enjoy color in your desert yard all four seasons of the year. The cities of Avondale, Chandler and Glendale are offering free October classes about bringing more color to your landscape. These classes are among dozens of classes AMWUA cities are hosting to help you design, plant and maintain a lovely, drought-resistant desert yard. 

Here are just a few tips you’ll learn about bringing more color to your yard. 

  • When you consistently shear and shape a flowering shrub, such as Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens), you are sending its beautiful color to the landfill. Shearing a desert shrub removes all of its tiny buds that open into flowers several times throughout the year. Leave your shrubs alone, trimming only dead or dying limbs back to where they attach to the trunk.
  • Know the correct time to prune. Many homeowners clean and trim their yards once the weather changes in the fall. If you trim spring-blooming shrubs, such as a Emu (Eremophila maculata v. brevifolia), in November, you are cutting off the tiny buds that are already forming to produce spring flowers. These shrubs will not develop more buds during the remaining winter months. They should be trimmed at the end of the spring flowering season.
  • Flowers are not the only option for adding color to your yard. Many shrubs, such as the Firebush (Hamelia patens) and White Plumbago (Plumbago scandens), have foliage that turns bright shades of maroon. Other shrubs may offer gold colors in the fall before dropping their leaves in winter.
  • Not all color comes from flowers and foliage. Desert homeowners have the additional option of adding colorful and low-maintenance cactus and succulents to their yards, such as the Purple Prickly Pear (Opuntia santa-rita) or Golden Barrel (Echinocactus grusonii).
  • Don’t forget to plant a few trees. Many drought-resistant trees, such as the Chinese Pistache Tree (Pistacia chinensis), will bring yellows and reds to your yard before dropping their leaves and allowing the winter sun to reach your home. Cascalote (Caesalpinia cacalaco) are evergreen and have yellow flowers throughout the winter.

AMWUA has informative plant pages to guide your color strategy, with detailed information about shrubs, succulents, groundcovers, cactus and trees.  Visit the inspirational gallery of plant combinations and download lists of plants for spring, summer, fall and winter color.

AMWUA cities offer free classes about a wide variety of landscape topics including rainwater harvesting and installing your own drip irrigation system. There are classes about composting and growing vegetables and fruit trees, classes that teach you how to manage your irrigation controller and how to prune a tree for health and beauty. You can check your city’s website for more information or view the complete list on the AMWUA website here. Happy fall.

For 49 years, Arizona Municipal Water Users Association has worked to protect our member cities’ ability to provide assured, safe and sustainable water supplies to their communities. For more water information visit

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