Growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area. With wiener dogs.

July 10, 2019

An easy-to-grow tropical plant for Phoenix, Arizona - sansevieria

To my surprise and delight, the sansevieria pups that I got a couple of years ago are doing great. And I'd never even heard of sansevierias until a gardening friend gave me some pups. I'll see if I can explain.

The most common sansevieria that you see around is usually called a "snake plant". If you're old enough, you will remember them being called "mother-in-law's tongue". And the most common variety looks similar to what I have growing here in the garden, but it's just slightly different. It's bluer, and I think that's why it does better in the heat.

And it's HOT here. I'm in Glendale, a suburb of Phoenix, and the summer temperatures are always over 100, sometimes getting up in the teens. And since the humidity is very low, a lot of tropical plants won't grow, even if you give them all of the water they want. They simply dry out - I'm talking about most ferns, which I've killed over the years of experimenting with them.

Anyway, sansevierias don't seem to be a popular plant at most garden centers here. And I really have no idea why, mine are growing like crazy. And they send of offshoots (called pups) that you can cut off and transplant (I just transplanted the two pups in the foreground of that photo).

So if you're lucky, you have a friend who will fill a shopping bag with pups, and you just stick them in the ground, and water them. Or you can buy a single plant, and as soon as it starts producing decent pups, you can transplant them. Or you could just be lazy, and watch as the pups are created on their own, at the end of runners. They will pop up all over the place!

Mine get morning sun and afternoon shade from a tree, and my house. They're not cactuses, so you can't plant them out in full sun. But they don't seem to mind the brutal summer heat. Strongly recommended.

July 6, 2019

Why artificial turf is so great for dogs, especially in a hot climate

I've had artificial turf (fake plastic grass) here in my backyard since 2006, which was a year after I got my first dog. I've found it to not only be wonderful for me, but it's great for dogs, especially as it's so hot here in the Phoenix area.

When I first got this house, I tried to grow grass in the backyard. It was a huge mess, and no matter how diligent I was, there were still bare patches, and places with mud. The space is a small one, so I figured that I could do with hoses and sprinklers, which were a major pain to deal with. And the year after I got my first dog I invested in artificial turf.

Now calm down there, no one is paying me to say this. I just like to think of how comfortable my dogs are, and that maybe other dogs would be able to enjoy what mine have. Mostly it's shade. It's also a lack of the mess of grass in a small space, tracking in mud into the house, and the problems associated with not quite seeing something that had been left behind when mowing (if you know what I mean).

This is not carpeting, it's designed to be outside. It's perforated so dogs can pee on it, and it goes through. And when they do #2 it's always very visible, and I can scoop it up right away. Of course plastic grass isn't as cool as real grass, but it's a whole lot cooler than concrete, or bricks. And besides, grass doesn't grow well in shade, and my yard is very shady, as you can see.

Oh yeah, I can also leave chairs, and a table with an umbrella out all of the time. Sure, you can have hardscaping, but it gets HOT here, and hard reflective surfaces just make it worse.

And it gets even better. As my garden evolves, the ground shifts a bit. Not a lot, but I've lived here for over twenty years and I can tell that there's some undulation. With hardscaping that would look awful, but with artificial turf it's just the gentle undulation of grass, which looks perfectly natural.

Let's see, what else? Of course I don't have to mow it, but I do have to go out a few times a month with my little cordless blower and blow the leaves, which I blow up into the garden, making mulch. And it I don't get all of the leaves, that's fine as it just makes the artificial grass look a bit more realistic, whereas if it were hardscaping the leaves would just look messy.

So there you go. I like my artificial turf, and so do my dogs!