Don’t fight Mother Nature, choose plants that thrive in Northern Nevada.

Choose well, plant once.

 

Even if you love yard work, no one enjoys redoing work they’ve already done (and if you like repetitive work, we’ve got a garden that needs weeding). So, when designing (or redesigning) your yard, it’s a darn good idea to do a little homework first and avoid redoing your yard season after season when plants die.

 

Gardeners in northern Nevada face a three-pronged challenge: climate, soil and water. The high desert of northern Nevada can have temperature extremes, low humidity, clay-heavy soils and lots of wind that all inhibit plant growth. Don’t get poked by a prong. In other words, choose plants that can tolerate our soil and climate conditions and you’ll be much happier with the results.

 

Local shops know what works

With plants, it pays to shop local. The expression ‘drought-tolerant’ is used to describe plants that do well with less water. It doesn’t have to be an official drought year to take advantage of using these less-thirsty plants. Another expression you may hear is desert-wise. Choosing desert-wise plants will save you both time and money in the long run, even if it means buying from small, local garden shops instead of big box stores.

 

Large box stores typically buy plants nationally and truck them in from remote greenhouses. These greenhouses may not reflect your local climate and therefore the plants may not be well suited for your yard (ie it will not look like the picture on that little plastic spike). Or a plant that may be a perennial (a plant that lasts multiple seasons) in a mild California climate – and is labeled such by the greenhouse that grew it – acts as an annual (one season and done) in northern Nevada. A knowledgeable local garden shop that grows their own or sources plants locally will be your best resource for all types of plants.

 

The case against grass

Even in the desert, grass has its place. It’s cooling on a hot day, provides pets and kids with a great, forgiving play surface and is a host to many fun recreational events, from picnics to football games. However, not every residential yard, business entrance and highway median should be carpeted in grass – and we’d argue most should not. Ask yourself, does your household “use” your lawn? If not, if it may be time to let it go. Here are four reasons to ditch the grass for a desert-friendly xeriscape:

1. Water is scarce in the desert. Watering non-life-sustaining plants (i.e. not those for food or shade) is perhaps not the best use of this resource.

roundabout landscape

2. Lawns take time, energy and money. Mowing, fertilizing, weeding, watering, dethatching and aerating takes more time and energy than maintaining desert-friendly plants.

3. Mowing can pollute and create waste. If your mower isn’t electric or a reel mower, that two-cycle engine creates noise and air pollution every time you mow.

4. Xeriscape can be spectacular. Are you a doubter? Just check out these images.

 

There’s a lot to choose from

Here is a nice big selection of trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses that have proven to grow well in northern Nevada.

 

 

TREES

Deciduous Evergreen Fruit trees

Ash (Autumn Purple)

Chokecherry

Crabapple Blue

Gingko

Golden Rain

Hawthorne (Crusader)

Honeylocust

Kentucky Coffee

Lilac (Beijing Gold, China Snow, Ivory Silk)

London Plane

Maple (Amur, Autumn Blaze, Hedge, Hot Wings)

Oak (Bur, White)

Persian Ironwood

Redbud

Serviceberry

Zelkova

 

 

 

Arizona Cypress

Austrian Pine

Atlas Cedar

Bosnian Pine

Bristlecone Pine

Incense Cedar

Jeffrey Pine

Limber Pine

Ponderosa Pine

Scotch Pine

Swiss Stone Pine

Wichita Blue Juniper

White Fir

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apple (most reliable)

Pear

Asian pear

Plum

Cherries

Can grow well with spring frost protection

Apricot

Peach

Nectarine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The key to growing fruit successfully in northern Nevada is choosing a variety with a high chill hour requirement – 700+ hours is ideal. Also consider an eastern, northeastern, or even northern exposure to extend dormancy into spring and delay spring buds that can be susceptible to frost.urban landscape

 

GRASSES

Alkali sacaton

Blue Fescue

Blue Oat

Chinese Silver Grass

Feather Reed

Feather Reed

Little Bluestem

Silver grass

Switch

Tufted Hair

SHRUBS

Amur Maple

Barberry

Buffaloberry

Butterfly Bush

Caryopteris

Chokeberry

Cistena Plum

Cotoneaster

Diervilla (dwarf bush honeysuckle)

Juniper

Kinnikinnick

Lilac

Mock Orange

Mugo Pine

Ninebark

Potentilla

Quince

Rose of Sharon

Rose (Rugosa,Woods)

Serviceberry

Siberian Peashrub

Smokebush

Snowberry

Spiraea

Sumac

Yucca

 

PERENNIALSxeriscape

Agastache

Lavender

Baptisia

Chocolate Daisy

California Fuchsia

Centranthus

Coreopsis

Daylily

Dianthus

Coneflower

Fern Bush

Flax

Blanket Flower

Sneezeweed

Red Yucca

Ice Plant

Iris

 

Red Hot Poker

LeadplantLiatris

Lupine

Mexican Primrose

Bee Balm

Catmint

Penstemon

Peony

Red Valerian

Russian Sage

Salvia

Sedum

Snow in Summer

Spirea

Thyme

Veronica

Yarrow

 

 

VINES

Honeysuckle

Silver Lace

Trumpet Vine

Wisteria

 

 

Ready, set, plant!

The snow is off Peavine, so it’s safe to plant (or so says the local lore), just do your homework first. In the next blog, we’ll look at plants that do well in the southern Nevada climate.

 

If you’re ready to build that amazing desert-friendly landscape, but you don’t yet have a home of your own, we can help. Our HIP-qualified lenders and real estate pros can get you started on finding a home that suits you and your backyard plans.

 

Photos courtesy of Artemesia Landscape Architecture

 

Sources:
Moana Nursery
UNR Cooperative Extension

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