Sep 24 2018Share

Landscape Classes: It’s Time To Boost Your Yard’s Appeal

By Warren Tenney

The days are getting shorter and the shadows a little deeper. We’re all eager to spend more time outside, including making those changes to our landscape that we’ve been considering all summer. It’s planting season and AMWUA cities are hosting dozens of free fall landscape classes. The City of Scottsdale is hosting a class Oct. 9 taught by a landscape design expert who can help you rejuvenate your yard. Here are a few things you can start thinking about right now.

  • Triage: Get intimate with your plants again. Some have not survived the summer and others are just a bit sunburned. The monsoon comes just in time to keep most drought resilient plants thriving. If your shrubs and vines are showing a little new growth, they have survived. If they still look withered – even in the morning – and have no signs of new growth, they may need to go. Plants age and these sad looking plants may have reached their limit.
  • Clean Up: When you tidy up your plants after summer, prune dead and dying branches. Avoid shearing your shrubs. Sheared shrubs don’t bloom as often, tend to develop brown woody spots and have a shorter than natural lifespan. Here's more about getting the most life and color from your shrubs.
  • Shade: Take in the big picture and think about how inviting your landscape is to your family and guests. Do you have enough shade to cool your home, protect your plants from summer sun and make it the inviting retreat you’ve always wanted? If you need more shade, remember to plant the right size tree in the right spot so you can avoid constant pruning and keep the tree’s natural shape.
  • Water: This is a good time of year to turn on your watering system to find and fix leaks, plug those drip lines that no longer lead to plants, and check for pooling around sprinkler heads. AMWUA’s Smart Home Water Guide can help you identify outdoor leaks that are costing you money and wasting drinking water.
  • Color: Nurseries offer plenty of colorfully blooming plants for every season. Those rows and tables of colorful plants offer such hope, but they rarely look the same when we finally plant them in our yards. Here’s the secret: Buy three or five or seven of those flowering shrubs or groundcover and plant them in groups for a mass display of color. It will add a little drama to your yard. Find more help for seasonal color here.
  • Read the tag: The right plant in the right place becomes a healthy, beautiful plant. To plant the right plant in the right spot, you need to understand your yard’s seasonal shade patterns. Check the AMWUA plant pages to know if the plants you buy will thrive in full sun, partial shade or need shade all day. Some nursery plants are raised in California and the plant tags that indicate a plant thrives in full sun do not always mean full Sonoran Desert sun.
  • Out of the Box: Some vegetables don’t need to be confined to rows in boxed gardens. Traditional leafy green fall and winter vegetables can be planted in groupings under trees with filtered shade and along walking paths.
  • Curb appeal: Think about confining frost sensitive shrubs and groundcover to your back yard. Those sheets and frost covers ruin the look of your front yard’s landscaping and your home’s curb appeal throughout the winter. 

AMWUA cities host free classes on a variety of topics, including how to plant and maintain a beautiful yard, the dos and don’ts of rain harvesting and how to install your own drip irrigation system. There are classes about composting and growing vegetables and fruit trees 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

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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