Best Plants for an Arizona Herb Garden

There was once a time in which convenience ruled over all else. Carpeted floors, frozen dinners, and dried herbs were a necessity of life, as they were quick, easy, and comfortable. But as the years pass, we have begun to learn that quick is not always best, and comfortable has many different definitions. Wood floors offer a timeless beauty and are easier to keep clean, fresh meals made with all natural ingredients are healthy and delicious, and the taste of herbs clipped from your own personal garden add an intensity of flavors that the dried stuff you have laying around in your cupboards just can’t provide! This guide to the best plants for your Arizona herb garden will be your first step in ensuring that every meal you prepare is just bursting with flavor and taste.

Basil

Every Italian meal is made even tastier when you add your own homegrown basil, and this herb does surprisingly well in desert weather conditions. They thrive when planted in the months between late February to May but can survive no matter what the season if you bring them to the porch in a pot. Interestingly, basil becomes even more flavorful and grows better when planted near tomatoes.

Bee Balm

Bee balm is not on any list of commonly planted herbs, but its health benefits make it popular for those looking for natural solutions for indigestion, bloating, or nausea. Best planted in February or March in spots that offer afternoon shade, the leaves can be harvested any time. It’s also great for the environment as it attracts bees and butterflies. This is another herb that does best when planted near tomatoes.

Cilantro

Whether you are native to our state or have only recently moved here, you probably already have strong feelings about this spicy herb. Most people either love it unconditionally or hate it with a passion, and if you fall in the latter category, you might want to scroll on by! This easy plant grows best from seed or by transplanting and is best planted in October through January. You’ll want to cut clippings from it on a regular basis, which helps keep the cilantro from flowering, as the flowers cause the leaves to lose its delicious taste.

Lavender

Lavender is more than just a pretty purple flower; it can be used in beverages and sweet snacks that include cakes and ice cream, and it also keeps mosquitos away. The lavender plant survives planting by seed, transplant, or by cutting and is best planted October through November and the end of February through April. Lavender loves the sun and thrives in soil that drains well.

Mint

A glass of Arizona sun tea garnished with a freshly picked mint leaf is one of life’s greatest pleasures, and this hardy plant grows profusely in spots that offer afternoon shade. Mint also has a split planting season, doing best when planted between February through April or October through November, and the leaves and stems taste best when plucked in their youth.

Oregano

We’re heading back to the old Italian kitchen with another popular spice that flavors old country dishes so very nicely! Oregano has a split planting season—February through April or October through November—and needs to be kept trimmed and flower-free. If you’re choosing to grow some oregano by transplanting existing herbs, you’ll want to rub the leaves between your fingers and plant the one that has the strongest scent.

Rosemary

This savory plant does exceedingly well in times of drought, making it the perfect Arizona herb for your garden! Surviving best when planted between October and January, the most flavorful stems will be the ones you pick right before the bush flowers. Plant in full sun with a soil that drains well. Rosemary isn’t just good for flavoring foods; it is known to keep away pesky insects that may spoil your garden.

Sage

Sage thrives in the desert and can be planted from February through April and October through November, allowing the cook to pick from its bush whenever needed. The soil sage is planted in needs to drain easily to avoid developing rot and this beautiful bush is also great for scaring away unwanted insects intent on devouring your garden! If cucumbers are a staple in your Arizona garden, you might want to plant the sage as far away as possible from the cucumbers, as the herb could interfere with their growth.

Thyme

We can all use a little more time on our hands, and when the thyme is a tasty herb, every meal shines! Plant this spidery plant from November through April and clip as needed. If your garden also contains a lemon tree, creating a creamy lemon thyme chicken dish will make your family love your cooking even more!

Give Us a Call Today

We love to make Arizona beautiful, and an herb garden is one of our favorite ways to do so. Contact us today!

Summer Water Saving Tips & Secrets

We live differently in the desert than in other parts of the world. We hibernate during the summer, staying inside as much as possible, and spend our winter months playing outside and sleeping with the windows open. We normally have an overabundance of sunlight, and in the summer a giant wall of dust is often spotted moving towards the valley. And because we recognize water as being more precious than gold, we have had to learn how to thrive on less in our gardens, our yards, and even in our homes! At New Image Landscape and Pools, we don’t believe you have to have a sterile and boring landscape even when you lessen your water usage. This guide to summer water saving secrets will help you with your mission to conserve more and still have the yard and garden of your dreams.

Explore the Beauty of Cacti

You live in the desert, so there’s no reason to feel ashamed of having a desert landscape. Cacti come in an extensive variety of shapes, sizes, and colors! From the signature cactus of Arizona, the massive saguaro, to the Blossfeldia liliputana—the smallest cactus in the world, measuring just millimeters across—this beautiful and water saving plant can make a distinctive presence in your yard. For those who want flowers, many cacti bloom in the spring, and for those who are worried about their children getting hurt, there are varieties that don’t have any stickers at all! Start your yard with a base of gravel, then plant a saguaro in the front corner, a few barrel cacti over in the back corner, and in place of a fence, plant a row of Mexican fence post cacti along the boundary between your yard and your neighbor’s for privacy!

Hardy Desert Plants

Of course, many of us are transplants from the Midwest, and the thought of a lush garden filled with plants and flowers makes our hearts beat a little faster! Fortunately, not all desert landscapes have to consist of crushed gravel, prickly cacti, and a few tumbleweeds doing their thing. There are many hardy desert plants that provide lush greenery and colorful blooms that last through most seasons! From the different varieties of sage plants to the cheerful beauty of a desert marigold, your yard can be as verdant and lush as an English garden with these water saving tips!

Accentuate with Hardscape

Building a gazebo, adding a shed, or even constructing a retaining wall in hillier locations may not seem like a water saving technique, until you consider that the more hardscape items that are in your yard, the less green space is left for gardens or grass! There’s no need to water your summer kitchen and painting a gazebo a cheerful barn red can provide the color you crave without necessitating more watering!

Consider Artificial Turf

Today’s fake grasses are not the ones of your parent’s time. In many cases, it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference between real and fake! And because it doesn’t fade, flatten, or change in length, it doesn’t just save water, it also saves you from frustration as it saves you time. There are a few disadvantages to this type of turf, however, first and foremost being price—especially in comparison to the cost of seeding or even sod for the real stuff. Costing between $5 to $20 per yard (installed), it could be prohibitively expensive for a large yard, especially when you consider it’s not a forever choice. With proper care it can last up to 20 years, though, so if you’re planning on staying on your property for a lifetime, you might want to skip the artificial turf.

Invest in an Automatic Sprinkler System

These systems are lifesavers when it comes to saving time and keeping your yard and plants alive, but did you also know they are water saving devices? Owners can program the systems to allow for just the right amount of watering, ensuring not a drop of water is wasted, but that’s not the only ways these systems save money. Many systems detect rain and will turn off when Mother Nature is taking her turn at watering your grass and plants! Costing a little more at first, the benefits of being able to have a lush and verdant yard while manage to conserve one of our most precious resources cannot be appreciated enough!

Easy to Do Water Saving Tips

It may take a little extra planning at first, but saving water is an easy thing to do, and we can help you create a landscape that is both bountiful and water saving! Give us a call today and we will work together to ensure you get the yard of your dreams without wasting a drop of H2O.

Common Mistakes Made by Novice Gardeners

There are many things in life that only improve with practice: driving, cooking, and although it looks easy, gardening. A beautiful garden is a sight to behold, overflowing with beautiful flowers, plants, and the occasional vegetable. We see them in the yards of our friends, our family, our neighbors, and we rush out to replicate their stunning presence in our own yards, but much to the dismay of novice gardeners from all over the world, it may take many do-overs to get the desired results, and in Arizona, our special weather conditions can add to the errors committed. This guide to common mistakes made by novice gardeners, however, is our way of helping you suffer less errors and show more successes!

Watering

We live in the desert, and the summer temperatures are scorching, so of course you want to make sure they get plenty of water. But did you know that overwatering can be just as destructive as underwatering? Too much water can cause rot to occur in the roots, killing the plants, leaving you with a soggy and occasionally smelly mess. Following the instructions for watering is of paramount importance. In the desert, sticking with native plants is equally important; water is a precious resource, and the less we use the better it is for everyone!

Soil Preparation

You may think dirt is dirt, but the reality is soil is different everywhere you go, and the difference between a flourishing garden and one that is straggly and withering can often be linked to the dirt. Arizona is known for having clay soil that is very alkaline, and if you’re determined to create a fabulous garden, you can actually have your soil tested for a more complete picture of what you’re dealing with. Using soil amendments (compost or manure are popular choices) and fertilizer to mix in with your dirt will often solve your problem, and as each plant requires something a little different, reading or depending on the advice of experts is key!

Timing

Planting anything in the wrong season is the surest way to fail, and here in Arizona we follow a little different schedule than other places, so consultation is important! We here at New Image Landscape have made our living growing plants, so we are always happy to be of help. Saving plants and flowers from too much heat or cold makes us very happy!

The Easiest Way to Avoid Mistakes as a Novice Gardener

If you’re still worried you won’t get it right the first time, give us a call today and let our knowledgeable staff help give you the garden of your dreams!

The Most Difficult Plants to Grow in Arizona

There are a lot of pluses to living in the desert, from warm weather in the winter to sunny days nearly year-round, but there also can be some difficulties. That warm weather in the winter is wonderful, but come July when temperatures jump over 115 degrees, you may find yourself asking whatever were you thinking when you moved here! Gardeners have learned that there are also issues when it comes to planting and making your landscape beautiful. What worked back east can fail woefully when planted under the scorching desert sun, and today we are going to take a look at the most difficult plants to grow in Arizona as we give you options for substitutions that will keep your garden looking fantastic!

Azaleas

Every southern girl knows the cheerful sight of the bloom of the azalea smiling up at you on a warm summer’s day, but unfortunately, this beautiful bloom doesn’t stand up to desert living, and the main reason may surprise you: It’s the soil that is the problem! Desert soil has a high alkalinity, while southern soil contains a more acidic mix. When it comes to azaleas, the aridity of the desert is not much of a factor!

A nice substitution could be as easy as throwing a handful of wildflower seeds in your yard and watching your spring garden, well, spring to life! Choosing a desert wildflower mix is your best option. Mexican gold poppies bloom strong and leggy with gorgeous golden yellow blooms, while desert bluebells offer blooms that are similar to azaleas in shape and come in rich cobalt blue with dark green stems and leaves. Many wildflowers are annuals, so in rainy years, they could continue to grace your landscape for years to come!

Hydrangeas

This beautiful flowering bush presents blooms the size of dinner plates in shades of white, blue, or pink and grows easily in an ocean climate—something you won’t find in the desert. Growing easily in the salty climates near the sea, it’s near impossible to repeat that success here, and finding a plant that is similar can be even more difficult. The Texas sage, however, does offer a beautiful purple bloom that adds a delicious spot of color in your desert landscape without wasting our most precious resource. A favorite of bees, it helps the environment, and although the blooms don’t last year-round, it is a perennial that you only have to plant once. The leaves of this desert bush are silvery gray and are beautiful on their own!

It Can Be an Adjustment

If this is your first season in the Valley of the Sun, you may be feeling frustrated and annoyed at your planting options. New Image Landscape and Pools wants to help eliminate the frustration and give you the garden of your dreams. Give us a call today! Check out these garden water saving tips.

3 Arizona Winter Plants to Brighten Your Yard

Winter in Arizona can be the most beautiful time of the year, with the sun shining brightly and the daytime temperatures hovering in the high 60s, low 70s, or it can be a never-ending succession of storms, gray skies, and temperatures that are a tad chillier than we are used to! Fortunately, our bipolar weather tends to stay on the mild side most winters, but you may still feel that your yard needs a little brightening up, no matter how sunny the day. Maybe you decided to let your grass stay dormant this winter, or maybe you just love the look of plants. In either case, these three Arizona winter plants are just what you need to brighten your yard this winter!

Valentine’s Bush

Red is the color of romance, and this desert dwelling flowering plant is all about the romance; it starts blooming the end of December and comes to a full and brilliant appearance right around Valentine’s Day. Offering a touch of summer passion in the cooler days of winter, the dark green foliage is striking even without blooms, and being a desert plant, it does best when planted in full sun.

Pansy

Coming in a variety of colors, it’s impossible not to smile when you catch sight of its blooms swaying in the gentle desert breeze. Your local garden store will more than likely sell bowls that are already blooming, which you can hang from the rafters of your porch or sit on the rail. This is a perfect winter plant for those whose thumbs are less than green! This annual is a popular plant for porches and window gardens but will die out at the end of the season, so if you’re looking for something you only have to plant once, stick to the perennials like the Valentine’s Bush we mentioned above.

Feathery Cassia

Hailing from Australia, the Feathery Cassia has adapted to our similar climate and produces brilliant yellow blooms from mid-winter to early spring, making it a popular plant for those who are worried about the bee population; bees love this plant and so do we! Plant in full sun, perhaps next to your Valentine’s Bush, and enjoy the contrast of fiery red and sunny yellow on the gray and chilly days of winter. This desert plant (and the Valentine’s Bush) requires little watering, so you’re doing a favor for the environment as well!

Arizona Winter Plants are Our Passion

Give us a call today and we can help you turn your bland backyard into a flowering oasis of fun!

Three Features Your Backyard Improvements You Could Be Missing

The real world outside the boundaries of your home and yard can be a cruel and tough one, making it that much more important that we create sanctuaries to come back to at the end of each day. Inside our homes, we create spaces that are soft, warm, and welcoming, but the peace and tranquility doesn’t have to end there. Our backyards, especially here in the Phoenix area, where we surround our landscape with cinderblock walls for privacy, can offer a sanctuary of a different type. If your “back 40” is missing these three backyard improvements, you may not be using it to its full extent!

Firepits for Winter

We desert dwellers are about to enter our favorite season. Winter is when the day temperatures stay short-sleeve cool, but the nights dip into winter coat temperatures, making a firepit the perfect backyard accessory. Keep it simple with a circle of firesafe garden blocks and lawn furniture topped with colorful and soft padding or add an elaborate sunken fire pit area complete with built-in seats and twinkle lights shining in the trees above. It’s time to discover the joys of family time spent talking, laughing, or telling stories late into the night.

Vegetable Gardens for Health

The one complaint we often have about living in the desert is the quality of the vegetables we purchase from the grocery store. Although they may be colorful and attractive to look at, they tend to taste bland and mushy, making it even more of a chore to convince our children the importance of eating their vegetables! Growing a raised bed vegetable garden in your backyard, however, can solve all of your vegetable issues, including getting your children to eat them. The joy they take in planting, caring, and then harvesting the veggies will entice them to eat them as well, making a vegetable garden a feature that will make your yard a dream come true! And because the care you take can bring a Zen garden appeal to your life, the vegetable garden can add to the peace and tranquility of your outdoor sanctuary!

Sheds for Sharing

The commonplace backyard shed has “shed” its boring tin and has become more than a place to store Christmas decorations and lawn mowers. Today’s sheds come in a variety of materials and are used in a variety of ways. Created to be she-sheds for moms who need private spaces, offices for parents to conduct business at home and be able to spend more time with the kids in the process, or extra sleeping space for all the guests who come to visit and take advantage of our incredible winter temperatures, the functionality of your shed can be customized to your needs!

So Many Ideas For Backyard Improvements

Our years of pool and landscape experience have given us so many ideas on how to make a yard an oasis, and we can’t wait to share them with you! Contact us today and let’s make your backyard the picture perfect place of your dreams.

Gardening Tips for Fall

Arizona fall gardening can be substantially different than that of other states for many reasons, but perhaps the most important one is the heat. It just doesn’t start getting cool until the end of October, and no matter what the calendar says, in our eyes the season can be considered extremely late summer! True gardeners, however, are a hardy sort and rarely let the temperatures stop them in their mission to feel the dirt between their fingers, so we’ve provided this guide to gardening in the fall in Arizona just for you; time to pull out the knee pads and floppy hats!

Preparing Your Fall in Arizona Soil

In September it really is too hot for anything to take root, so take this time to prepare your soil. Till the area, cleaning out any old roots, dead plants, and rocks that may have found their way into the clay soil. Once the area has been thoroughly cleaned and tilled, now it’s time to add nutrients. If you’ve planned ahead, now is when to add the compost that has been “simmering” in your compost pile or container. If not, purchasing an organic fertilizer from your local gardening store is perfectly acceptable. The final step in preparing your soil is watering; water thoroughly to allow the nutrients to “percolate,” and when the weather cools down, you will be officially ready to begin planting!

Now For the Fun Stuff

Once the mercury drops sometime in October, you can finally begin your planting! For those who are simply interested in making their yards beautiful for the upcoming seasons, this is the perfect time to plant the seeds of our native wildflowers—desert marigolds, larkspurs, and sweet peas, just to name a few! If a vegetable garden is in your future, this is also a great time to plant beets, onions, broccoli, peas, brussel sprouts and a large variety of other veggies either by seed or transplant, if you’re not comfortable in your planting skills.

Windowsill Adventures

Not all gardens are going to be grand adventures filled with a bounty of flowers to be picked or vegetables to be harvested. October is also a good time to start a windowsill garden of your favorite herbs. Chives, cilantro, dill, fennel, mint, marjoram, or even lemongrass, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme will thrive when planted in the fall. You may have to purchase your veggies from the grocery store, but once you taste a dish prepared with fresh herbs you’ve grown yourself, you’ll never go back to store-bought spices again!

While You’re Out There

As you toil in the soil under the desert sun, chances are you may notice a part of your landscape that is missing something vital, like a pool or gazebo? Give us a call today and let New Image Landscape and Pools help you figure out exactly what you’ve been missing!

3 Arizona Gardening Tips for Keeping Your Garden Healthy

There are so many tips and techniques to use to keep your garden healthy, no matter where you are lucky enough to have your garden. They may seem pretty basic, but if you get the basics down, you’ll have better success with your gardening. Here are our top three Arizona gardening tips for keeping your garden healthy.

Tip #1: Water

This may seem pretty obvious, but of course it’s pretty important, especially here in the Southwest. You can do everything else right, but if you forget to pay attention to the amount of water your plants are getting, they probably won’t make it. Of course, you can rely on Mother Nature to provide the right amount of rain at the right time, or you can do the watering yourself and not worry. Try using a drip system; it puts the water right where your plants need it. Even better, use a drip system on a timer. These systems are easy to adjust, so you can control the amount of water your plants get and when they get it. This is especially good if you have plants with different watering needs. And don’t forget to get a rain barrel or two and capture that free rain water!

Arizona Gardening Tips #2: Mulch

Mulch will provide a protective cover around the base of your plants. This protective covering will help protect your plants against those drastic temperature changes that occur so often here in the Southwest. Mulch also helps retain moisture in the soil, keeping the water where your plants need it. Organic mulches eventually break down, contributing to soil health (always a good thing), and a nice organic mulch will invite earthworms to your garden (another good thing). Mulching also helps with weed control; a 2”- 3” layer of mulch is all you need to keep those weeds down.

Tip #3: Clean Up

This isn’t just about keeping your garden looking pretty, that’s just a side benefit. No, cleaning up in and around the garden can also help cut down on pests and diseases. Clean up leaves as they gather on the ground and toss them in your compost pile. All sorts of pests (and not just insects!) can live under those dead leaves! And don’t forget about the plants themselves; clean away dead or damaged stems and leaves to keep your plants healthy. Use pruning shears for a sharp, clean cut at damaged stems.

Give us a call today more Arizona gardening tips and to schedule a consultation!

3 Ways to Make Your Garden More Private

A garden is a wonderful, aesthetically pleasing addition to any environment. Gardens are also quite practical in that they provide such conveniences as shade and privacy. When it comes to a garden, establishing privacy is important so you can enjoy your space to the fullest without the concern of prying eyes or interruptions. The following are three ways to make your Mesa garden more private.

Fence It in

Nothing says privacy more than a fence. The way in which you create the fenced barrier is totally up to you. Before investing in a fence for your garden, make sure that you have established your property lines. Regarding privacy, you have the choice of full-privacy or semi-privacy fences. Full privacy fences are made in a manner that eliminates gaps between the panels. The only way someone can see into your garden is by looking over the fence. There is also the option of semi-privacy fences which still offer a certain level of privacy while including the spaces between the panels,so people can see through the fence. These types of fences are available in different sizes and materials to suit your landscape.

Go Green for Privacy

Use the beauty of nature to create privacy for your garden while experiencing a greener, lush landscape. Hedge fences are an excellent way to create privacy with plants. To create the best hedge for privacy needs, choose a plant that grows tall such as boxwood or privet. Other green options for privacy include the use of flowering bushes such as laurels,as they can grow upwards of 8-feet. Planting trees and bushes around an existing fence is also another way to create more privacy for your existing Mesa garden.

Creative Cover for Your Mesa Garden

Try adding creative touches to your garden for more privacy. Hanging drapes or large pieces of fabric around the perimeter of a garden is a creative way to control the level of privacy in your garden. Consider installing a trellis that includes a climbing plant such as ivy. You can even incorporate a vertical garden into your existing landscape by planting tall plants in pots which helps to create a green privacy barrier.

At New Image Landscape and Pools, we can help you create the privacy you desire for your landscape. With over 35 years of landscaping experience, we offer a variety of innovative ideas to help you enjoy your garden to the fullest. For more information on creating your private garden, contact us at 480-654-4422.

5 Ways to Achieve a Southwestern Desert Garden in Arizona

Southwestern desert garden in Arizona are as beautiful as they are unique. A combination of rocks, desert plants, and flowering cactus can really make your garden pop. If you are interested in creating a southwestern desert garden in your yard, follow these simple steps to achieve a beautiful garden.

Place Exciting Plants Where They’ll Be Seen

Place large, big-money plants in areas of your yard where they will be seen. These plants can act as a centerpiece for your landscaping, or you can use them to frame the entryway to your home. Plants like the beaked yucca can grow up to 14 feet tall and are visually stunning.

Use Plants with Seasonal Variety

There are two types of plants: perennials, which look the same year-round; and annuals, which change with the season. Planting a mix of both perennials and annuals with help keep your garden looking good all year long. Annual plants will keep your garden looking alive year-round and perennials will add a splash of color during the changing seasons.

Prickly pear cactus is a common perennial that grows in the Southwest. During the spring, the cactus sprouts yellow flowers. Once the flowers die they turn into red colored fruits and during the winter the paddles of the cactus turn to purple. These bright colors really stand out against the desert background and can help your yard pop with color.

Landscape with Native Plants

Arizona doesn’t get a lot of rain, so the best type of plants to use for your landscaping is native, drought-tolerant varieties. These plants will be able to survive the harsh climate, will require less watering and maintenance, and will make your yard look healthy and alive all year long. Honey mesquite, gray desert spoon, turpentine bush, and creosote bush are all plants that grow well in this environment. They have small leaves, which helps the plants retain moisture.

Add Architectural Elements

Architectural elements can give your yard some depth and variety in height. Stucco-walled beds can create terraces in your yard which are a great way to make your yard more appealing. Different heights of plants, such as vertical plants like the yucca, can be planted in the beds below the raised terraces. Shorter shrub plants like dwarf oleanders look good in the taller stucco-walled beds and provide pops of color during the winter. Plants that flower will really stand out against the neutral colors of the stucco-walled beds.

Don’t Plant Grass

Grass requires a lot of water, maintenance, and can look out of place in your desert garden in Arizona. Instead, use a bed of chat to surround your plants. You can also strategically place large rocks such as lava rocks to add an additional element to your garden.

Help with Your Desert Garden in Arizona

If you would like help planning out your garden or are looking for maintenance services for your existing garden, contact us today. We have been providing lawn maintenance and design in Arizona for more than 30 years. Our specialty is in southwestern gardening and we would love to help you create your ideal desert garden.