Nevada Landscaping Series

Chapter 1 Welcome to Northern Nevada!

You have just purchased your own personal acre of prime Nevada sand ... Ahem... I mean real estate.

Why there is no problem growing anything here at all!
Just look at all that sagebrush, Mormon Tea, Desert Peach, Cacti and Rabbit Brush.

Somewhere around February or March you start to notice home improvement stores setting out all kinds
of flora - flowers, roses and bedding plants at great bargain prices! 

Wonderful! This is just like California! 

Why, all  the tales you were told about the climate in Nevada must have been concocted to discourage Californians
moving there in the first place.

You do notice however, there are a few items like hydrangea, ice plants and jade trees not on display and ask the
helpful attendant if he would not mind ordering them.

The attendant is most obliging and places your order - cash up front of course.

You leave the store with a very nice assortment of plants, soil amendments, fertilizers, go home and set to work.  

It occurs to you after planting that a watering system of some sort will have to be installed. 

Since you planted your purchases in several eye-pleasing groupings throughout the back half acre,  you are not
exactly sure what to do and there is so much space!

The helpful fellow back at the home improvement store suggests running a several hoses from a manifold out to the
various locations.

For only $30.00 a pop you can install a battery operated timer at each location.

That is of course until you install a real watering system later on.

$120.00 later four stations are now installed. This is pretty neat and simple. Beautiful days, a slight
afternoon breeze, mid 70's and a little cool at night.  What more could one ask for?

Two weeks later you wake up one morning and boy it looks bright outside.  The sun sure comes up early here!

You draw the curtains back to find at least four inches of snow covering everything. Several hours later the  snow
melts off and it is rather hard to distinguish your plants from the compost surrounding them.

Must have been a freak snowstorm. These things do happen. Better get back to the home improvement center to
see if all those plants are still on sale and wonder of wonders, they are!

So, you load up again to spend
the rest of the afternoon replanting.

Something is wrong in the back yard. It looks like a major flood.  Closer examination reveals all the battery operated
 timers are flowing at once.

None of them seem to be working right so you shut off the
main water supply and take one of the timers back to the
store to see what the problem is.  

The knowledgable salesman says that because you left the timers on over night, water in the timer froze and busted
the innards.

When the temperature warmed up ice inside melted, water flowed and created the swamp
that is now your back yard.

$120.00 later four new stations are installed. It takes the rest of the day for the miniature lakes to recede before
spring planting can continue.

You decide in the interim to place the new plants on your west-facing  deck. It is a very pleasant view in the evenings
with the sun setting over the Sierras. You plan on enjoying it with your tender young plants.

Around three or four in the afternoon you hear outside what sounds kind of like a roar and it is  steadily increasing in

Excellent!  That must be the firefighting planes practicing their landing and  
take-offs from the local airport you heard
so much about.

Well, it wasn't aircraft. It was a 60 plus mile per hour wind storm barreling down the Sierras and  through the valley.
The new plant purchases, what is left of them, are scattered on the deck, in the sand and the
rest are headed for
parts unknown.  

This is getting a little aggravating.

Back at the home improvement store, the folks there now know you on a first name basis. It is really nice that there
are still some places where a friendly, communal atmosphere thrives. You do wonder though if that was
a smirk on the
cashier's face as you were checking out or just an over indulgent smile.

The following afternoon it is perfect for  planting again and you notice every time you start work the neighbors set out
their lawn chairs, pop a couple cold ones and watch.

You never did introduce yourself
 so you go over to the fence and make their acquaintance.

You learn some interesting facts.

People here don't start planting until the snow is off Peavine Mountain or the begninning of June, whichever comes
No one does any planting prior to that.

Why then are plants sold as early as February? 

Well, never hurts the economy to sell  product two, three or four times (the really slow learners) to new Nevada home

Hmmm, that is interesting.  Would the neighbors happen to have any other useful tips?  

As a matter of fact they do.

1.  Do not buy anything expensive. Odds are it will die. If a plant makes it past three years it might live.

2.  Fifty plus degree temperature swings in twenty four hours tend to limit your choices.  

     Jade Trees seem to be out.

3.  Buy from nurseries selling stock grown locally.  California imports are too thin skinned for the climate.
4.  Erect some kind of wind break. Those afternoon freight trains coming off the Sierras are the norm, not  the

      You can go the natural route and plant  Tamarisk , which you can dig out of the desert free of charge.
      They provide excellent  protection and look pretty nice as well. 
5.  Have your soil tested so you know what kinds of soil amendments to purchase.

     Not what kinds of amendments  you may need; soil amendments you will need.
    Oh, and get real familiar with the term 'coleche'.

6.  The county will spray your yard at the beginning of the growing season (June, not March) for a nominal  fee.   
    Why would you do that? 

Get real familiar with Buffalo BurrRussian Thistle , Red Root Pig Weed , Mare's Tail , Spotted Spurge ,Yellow Star
Thistle ,  Annual Bursage and Goats Head if you don't.
    Such colorful terms here.

7.  Install a real watering system and while you are at it, look at weed barrier cloth. Not the cheap stuff, but  the high
     dollar double-matted material.

    Start watering an area that has never had regular water and a bumper crop of   weeds will fill your back yard.

    You will also need to look at some gravel to put on top of the weed mat or a wind storm or two later......

8.  Get real familiar with Diazinon, Seven and other insecticides used to        kill  Red Ants. Button Get real familiar with Roundup too.
    It is getting rather tiring hearing the term 'Real Familiar'

9.  Oh and since you are from California, you will be pleased to know that northern Nevada is also the home
     for California Quail They thrive here and just love to make a snack of your seedlings.

     Get real familiar with bird barriers.
     And in case you are a city boy and have never seen quail, just think of gophers with wings.

     You rather sarcastically thank your neighbor for that vaguely disturbing mental image.

      The neighbor smiles, tips his glass and suggests you get back to work.  The sun is setting.

10. And last but not least, consider the services of a professional landscaper.  That's what the neighbors did.   
     Welcome to northern Nevada!

     Interested in an opinion on landscaping with Big Trees?   See Chapter Two    or