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rodknee

Anyone here living in the Great Basin?

21 years ago

The Great Basin, for those who dont know, is a large area starting along the Wasatch mountains of Utah and includes the western half of the state. It continues south alsmost to ST George and curves into Nevada. It includes most of the State of Nevada and takes in a large section of Eastern California. It continues into the south east corner of Oregon then into Idaho and curves back to SLC Utah.

This area has great challenges for gardeners. It is a perfect fit for Xeriscape. Mostly high deserts with many mountains. The valleys are dry and cold in winter - hot and dry in summer. Spring and fall are usualy short with a little moisture. It has as little as 5 inches of rain per year in Death Valley to 40 inches plus on some of its mountains. What it does have though is plenty of clear sunshine and a lack of most serious garden pests.

How do you garden in the Great Basin?

Do you try to mold the enviroment to standard garden center plants?

Do you use natives and adapted plants from the surrounding areas?

I would love to hear others experiences.

Rodknee

Here is a link that might be useful: Info on Great Basin

Comments (51)

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Wildflower, yes it does count. The entire Seiver drainage area is in the great basin. The other side of the Fish Lake Mountains drains into the Colorado River and is not part of the GB. Although the Colorado Platue and Basin are very similar to the GB as far a gardeing goes.

    A large part of the Rocky Mountains are in or around the Great Basin. This is my favorite site on Garden web butt if any one is interested I manage a small forum for Great Basin Gardeners (and anyone else interested) on MSN at :

    http://groups.msn.com/THESAGEBRUSHGARDEN/_whatsnew.msnw

    There are not enough people interested on Garden Web to start one here.
    Hope to see you there, rodknee

    Here is a link that might be useful: The Sagebrush Garden

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi, I live in North Ogden up on the "bench". Which was beach front property a few thousand years back. Old lake bonneville left pebbles, rocks, boulders just about three shovels down. I would love to have a utah forum. The diverity of Utah would make it tough. From alpine meadows to dry deserts. The zones ribbon through utah like snakes up here in the north. I don't depend on them at all. As you Utahans know, If you don't like the weather, wait a minute and it will change.

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  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live in West Jordan, Utah. I haven't been to the forums for a while. But I need to do better this year. There's a lot of work to be done in my yard and the drought won't make it any easier!

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    I hear drought years bring the grubs out in force. Maybe I should just let the lawn go this year and only water the flowerbeds! Is it hopeless?

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm in Twin Falls, Idaho. I think that is the Great Basin. We're also in what is called the Inter-mountain West.

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I'm in the Wasatch. Technically not the Great Basin, but very close. Anyone else noticed a huge increase in box elder bugs this year. Was it the warm winter?

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sorry for posting twice in a row. But let me tell you how I have started landscaping at my house.

    I have tried to stick to native plants away from the house. Clumps of Gambel Oak, Rocky Mountain Maple, Bigtooth Maple and quaking aspen. On the shady side, I am trying for a more "alpine" look and using White Firs and Subalpine Firs mixed with Englemann Spruce. I have tried to avoid the ever-present Colorado Spruce and Austrian Pine that everyone seems to love in Utah. The Colorado Spruce is a horrible tree, in my opinion and the Austrian Pine is not native to the area.

    Near the house (foundation shrubs), I have planted things that aren't native, but need a more tailored look. I have tried to stay with deer resistant species, although that's not completely possible at times.

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Canyon and Margie - you are both on the border of the Great Basin. YOur climate and weather are probably the same.
    I love native plants also.What new ones are you trying this year?
    Rodknee

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi, I live & work in the Great Basin...
    I am located at the western edge of the GB, in Carson City, Nv. I live on a 70 ac. ranch (in town!)and as it is not my own property,(I caretake it) I don't devote alot of time to intensive gardening, except in containers & small beds. As I am immersed full-time in the landscaping biz as a landscape designer/estimator for a design/build firm, the simpler my garden is right now, the better!
    When/if I ever get a place of my own to garden on, I want to have a rock & native garden, and intend to grow as many penstemons as I can manage. I recently splurged on a cold frame,(bought it at the San Francisco Flower & Garden Show, too good a deal to pass up!) so I am really looking forward to starting some seeds this spring - and probably giving most of the starts away... What the heck!
    In 2 weeks I am going down to the Mojave Desert with a friend who works for the NRCS as a range biologist to check out the spring bloom in the desert. Should be a pretty decent flower display, as the rains have been coming through frequently over the past month or so.

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live just north of Salt Lake. I am experiementing this year by removing a small section of the yard (grass) and replacing it with-if i can find it- buffalo grass. Anyone know where i can get it?

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago
  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    What I did was just plant a small amount of lawn in my front yard and then in the backyard I have a "field" of grass about 25 by 45 for my kids to play on. My lot is almost half an acre, so most of it is shrubs and trees. I have to admit I'm a rose lover, so I have a lot of roses, but those are heavily mulched and get by on the every ten day drip schedule all my beds are on. I don't ever start watering until May 1st (often latter) no matter what the weather is like. I only have to water the grass every seven days even though it is Kentucky Blue Grass. I was very thorough with my soil preparation so I've got great roots. I also have a playground area next to the play lawn with a huge redwood swing/climbing set and a trampoline. None of this area gets any supplemental watering at all--I just have it heavily covered with playground bark. When my kids are gone I figure it will be the perfect spot for a garden shed and greenhouse. I love the way my landscaping looks and it is very different for this area. Most people have about 90 percent grass with a narrow 3 foot foundation planting and the ubiquitous island bed.

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Is Southeastern Idaho considered "Great Basin"? We do have plenty of sagebrush.

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Very close and almost excact climate.
    What do you like to grow?

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live in Salt Lake City (ouch it was hot today!) and don't really buy "native" plants but I do try to get plants/shrubs that are hardy and can take some drought. Irises, shasta daisies, red valerian, etc those guys can put up with a lot more heat than most people think, plus they make it through our winters just fine as well. I've also bought some shrubs from a great nursery in Orem Utah (Cook's farm and greenhouse) that are considered hardy and suited to our climate but I honestly don't remember what they are called. I do have some more "tender" plants, roses etc. And those guys have four inches of mulch around them! With that much mulch I only had to water my roses every two weeks last year. This year I've started watering my plants with bathwater (the drought is too hard on us.) After I'm all squeaky clean, I get a bucket and start watering. Sure it's a pain, but we do what we gotta do. Last year we replaced our (well you can't really call it a lawn) with a variety of drought tolerant tall fescue from Home depot. So far it's great. We didn't do anything to the existing front lawn, at it's already starting to turn yellowish/brown from lack of water. But the tall fescue in the backyard looks fanstastic! Our neighbors have even been commenting on it. I think you can still have a great looking yard with lot's of plants if you just pay attention to how winter hardy it is and how much water it needs. There are tons of beautiful native plants, but there are other plants that work just as well. It all depends on your own "style." Anita

  • 21 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live in the South Ogden area and my garden is not condusive to the climate. To make a long story short, I'm learning. My whole garden needs regular watering and I want to change that but I really don't know where to start. This year I got some agastache and penstemons. I just discovered these plants and I understand they like dry sandy soil. The problem I have now is they are mixed with plants that like regular watering. So, I figured that I would just water lightly this year and the plants that can handle it can stay. The ones that die off will be replaced with better plants.
    I also have some russian sage and gaura. I just got those put in.
    My favorite plants in my yard are the miscanthus grasses. They do quite well in drier conditions.
    Eventually my garden will be more condusive to our climate.

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This is great! I had not seen many posting from Utah particularly.

    I am in Alpine Utah and am using all Xeriscape except for the lawn. I have planted almost 90 trees and about the same amount of shrubs on my property. A lot of experience on what not to plant ;-)

    I also built a re-circulating pond I enjoy about as much as anything except my kids ;-) and a variety of trees including Chitalpa, Purple Catalpa, forest pansies (redbud), red horsechestnut, Linden, Raymond ash, Ginko Biloba, Idaho Locust (similar to Purple robe), Helen Borcher peach (ornamental), Mimosa, Tulip Poplar, Mountain Ash/Sorbus, Royal Burgundy cherry, Honey Locust, and many others.

    I'll won't list bushes and shrubs for now ;-) but I did see
    schley's post referencing Cook's. Another one to check out for good pricing on trees is Vinyard, which is South of Cooks on Geneva road. A lot of their stuff is a mess, but I see the same trees, same Nursery (Monrovia, etc) for a lot less money. They put a lot of their stock in these pots that decompose (paper) and probably from bare-root early spring, but same size trees as Wasatch Shadows, Linden Nursury, etc for about half the price. The Oneill Red Horsechestnut I got for $29 on sale (Monrovia) and it was $79 at Cooks (slow growing tree so a bit pricey even for small stock). They also have a lot of Purple Robe and Idaho Locust, that is often priced at $19 for their sales (Fall and late summer).

    One more thing is their $5 area. If you have a big area to fill like I did, you can get some funky big plants for this price. I got huge Beauty bush, Cranberry and other Viburnum family shrubs for that. (disclaimer, I am not a salesperson for Vinyard and actually you might find a lot of things dissappointing there!)

    Also don't discount those big box stores for some unique varieties at very good prices! I see tri-color/variegated birch (right name?) and the Redbud I paid a fortune for, much less $$$ at the Home Depot. I like to support local nurseries, but not to a fault!

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Riverton, Utah here (SW corner of the Salt Lake valley)...I'm becoming a xeriscape convert.

    I built my home here 8 years ago in the land of clay, alkali(high soil pH sucks!), and drought. I used to live in Murray, Utah, home of the loam (in the center of the valley), and never knew how good I had it, gardening-wise. (stick anything in the ground and it grew...soil amend-whats?...sheesh, I was naive)

    So, here we go, for my yard:
    LOW MAINTENENCE TREES & SHRUBS: giant sequoia (took two years to settle in, showing its skyscraping tendencies now), gingko biloba, london planetree, two separate clusters of eastern redbud, flowering pear tree "Columbia?" (tall & thin), dappled willow (gorgeous small specimen, not like those BAD willows),japanese flowering crabapple, blue atlas cedar (loves the soil & climate), red-flowering weigela (breathtaking right now), butterfly bush (buddleia), amur maple, rose-of-sharon, forsythia, mountain mahogony, smoketrees, dwarf mugo pines, dwarf japanese lilac
    SPOILED TREES & SHRUBS THAT ARE HAPPY WHEN THEY GET ATTENTION: (the very amended-soil, sheltered-alcove & northside-of-house group): beautiful red weeping Japanese maple, white tree peony, saucer magnolia, burning bush (amend amend amend), "Nikko Blue" hydrangea (I managed to acidify the soil to produce a white/pale blue blossom...not an easy trick!), black hills spruce (supposed to be hardy, but its a toughie...finally its perking up after much spoiling), baldcypress (did great until they changed us from culinary sprinkler water to Utah Lake pressurized and high alkali water...now I have to give it chelated iron all the time to keep it green), sand cherries (we don't like clay), red twig variegated dogwood shrub (gorgeous alcove plant)

    DEATHS IN OUR TREE & SHRUB FAMILY (many drought-related too): the two flowering dogwoods (cornus florida) experiment (I TWICE tried to amend ten feet around them with compost, mulch, pine needles, constant watering, sheltered...both died), vanderwulf pine (did great for 3 years, suddenly turned brown & died in a week, neighbor got crazy with the 2-4D in hot weather), alpine fir (abies lasiocarpa--constant upkeep, then it girdled its roots and choked itself to death), the sourwood trial (barerooted it in the alcove...an acid-lover...made it 3 years...the drought took it out)

    SUGGESTED FLOWERS & PLANTS: any sedum (what a wonderful set of plants!), bellflowers, liatris, all kinds of bulbs, any columbine (awesome plant!), hibiscus (Hawaii in your front yard!), bleeding-heart, sages of all sorts (perennial), true geranium, hosta (north side of house), miniature daylilies, dryopteris ferns (shade), chicks & hens

    Go ahead & figure it out yourself on annuals (lol).

    If the drought gets much worse, some of my pampered plants might get drip-emitters, so I don't lose them.

    Lesson: you better plan plenty of xeriscaping if you're new to the Great Basin...its probably only going to get worse as more people move here & tap out all of our water.

    Sorry to ramble on so long....just my two cents worth of gardening experience....

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    If we could get enough Utah posters here, maybe we could start our own discussion area!

    Trees4Me, I'm interested in your experience with the Abies lasiocarpa. I've planted two subalpines before and lost both of them. I love the tree so much that I'm preparing to try again - any advice?? Our house is at the mouth of a canyon about 5,200 ft which might be too low, but I'm planting it on the north exposure and we get canyon breezes every evening to cool it down. I'd also like to put in an Englemann spruce to give it that alpine look.

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Canyon Home: the abies lasiocarpa trick (the long story)....

    1. Make sure your tree isn't rootbound. I picked mine up as a baby only three, maybe four, feet high for only $21.99. However, it was too big for the pot. When it died, I dug it up and found that the roots had essentially grown around in a circle and strangled themselves as they "fattened" up. That's probably why it was so discounted. You'd probably want to get a small tree that is in burlap, where you can see the rootball. Also, the smaller trees don't shock as easy as bigger trees. They root in quicker (not as much top to support) and eventually grow faster than a tree thats 15 feet high (unless, of course, you need instant semi-big tree).

    2. They SHOULD grow better for you than for me. Riverton is heavy clay, and alkali at that. My pH tests consistently over 8.0! Yours is probably in the mid 7's. Still a little harsh for a fir tree.
    Also, the east bench is sitting on glacial till, so your soil should be relatively light, probably rocky & sandy, so I would assume your main problem is the soil drying out quickly. Riverton only gets about half the moisture that the east bench does, but the clays holds it in, which is good & bad. It keeps the tree watered, but it causes root rot if they sit in wet clay. Mostly, its bad.

    3.Look at it this way: I'm living down in the valley, in the rainshadow of the Oquirrhs, where evergreens (except the ubiquitous Colorado spruce, Austrian pine, and junipers) have a tough go of it. I don't live in an environment conducive to growing mountain evergreens. You, on the other hand, live very close to their native home (albeit, at a much lower altitude). Therefore, you should be able to get them to live there. I see specimen trees all over the eastern valley.

    4. My best advice: lots of soil amendments, on a yearly basis. The landfill has composted Christmas trees for only $10 a truckload (free, if you shovel it yourself). You can get a 10-wheel dumptruck load for only $30. If you don't like those options (the first couple weeks it has a landfill smell--yeccch), go to Home Depot and pick up the cheapest bags of soil pep you can find ($2.97 a bag). 10-20 bags should do the trick. Dig out a nice big hole, about 18-24 inches deep and 8-10 feet in diameter. Plant the tree in a built up mound of soil pep or compost mixed 50/50 with your soil,about 6-12 inches high. I learned these tricks from a guy who plants mature trees for a living. He says that he never loses evergreens, they don't even shock on him (even the big ones), because when you plant on a tree up on a mound made of rich soil, the poor soil underneath can't seep up. Also, the large hole full of amended soil will keep your tree happy for years. Some trees can take up to 7 years to fully root in! Compost will hold in enough moisture that your tree will stay happily moist, but not excessively, plus it is rich in nutrients that trees like. It also lowers the soil pH, especially the pine tree compost (very acidic, evergreens love acidity). Make sure to replenish it every spring with a couple of bags of soil pep, top-dressed 3-5 inches deep. Make sure the compost doesnt touch the tree. It can cause rot and kill your tree if it decomposes against the trunk.

    5. Don't put down Roundup or 2-4D (Weed-B-Gon, weed & feed, etc) when its hot or windy. My next door neighbor sprayed his weeds with 2-4D that wasn't diluted enough on a 95 degree windy day, which vaporized and blew around. That might have contributed more to its death than the root binding (it did have one small set of roots going down into the ground, below the girdled roots, that might have allowed the tree to survive). NEVER EVER put any broadleaf weedkiller any closer than four feet from the tree. The 2-4D and mercap stay active as they seep into the soil (until they leach out eventually) and they will get to your tree's roots. My tree went from a beautiful silver blue to brown in a matter of weeks.

    6. Beat the drought and install drip emitters around the tree. They will keep the tree watered without wasting any water (they also keep the weeds down--no water, except above the tree, means no weed). I have a neighbor with a large mound with a Colorado white fir (abies concolor) and some lasiocarpas with black tubing and emitters all around them. The drought didn't do a thing to them. Xeriscape at its best.

    7. Keep the grass away from the tree. Bluegrass puts off a chemical that prevents certain trees from flourishing and tends to suck up all the water before the tree's roots get any (I think the process is called allelopathy). Its a lawn's way of defending its turf, so to speak (tongue in cheek). Firs and grasses really don't like each other. Eventually the tree will create a dense enough large shadow that grass can't grow underneath it. I found it interesting that my fir (when it was thriving) would drop needles underneath itself, thus acidifying the soil, smothering the grass, and making the ground more suitable for a fir tree. Watching the grass and trees compete is sure interesting--kind of like watching the food chain on "Animal Planet" ("Plant Planet", anyone?...what a great idea for a channel on satellite dish!).

    After doing all this stuff, I'm pretty sure your tree will be happy. Make sure to deep soak it once or twice a week by turning the hose on low and setting it by the tree trunk. It needs water in winter, too. Once or twice a month. If you have drip emitters, you won't need to use the hose. Plant the tree where it will get at least 6 hours of sunlight.

    Then, sit back and enjoy that beauty! I enjoyed mine for several years (*sob*).

    Finally, never EVER go to the Pacific Northwest and look at their firs. It'll make you jealous (one of those Ten Commandment thingies, "thou shalt not covet", yadda yadda).

    I hope this helps answer any questions. We DO have it much tougher in Utah & Nevada than any other part of the country, gardening-wise. It makes it all the sweeter when you can grow something so beautiful in a harsh landscape. Something that makes your yard look like a little piece of Albion Basin or Mt Timpanogas...

    Good luck! and I've babbled on for long enough...

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I can't thank you enough for your advice. I've read it over several times now and will print it off for future reference. Wish me luck!

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey Trees4me, sounds like you have the same shrubs as me! I have a purple ninebark that is coming in gorgeous this year as well as 3 smoketrees and I am suprised how well the rose of sharon (trees and shrubs) have done in areas where they have no protection. The do look ugly in the winter though.

    Anyway, I do have a question. I planted 3 variegated red twig dogwood late summer and it is just leafing out now but not looking that healthy. I have given it some fertilizer early spring but it still looks iffy. Are these just a late plant to leaf out or are they not the best choice for this area? Also while I am asking anyone know of any good plants that deer will not eat and evergreen besides Oregon Grape? I stupidly purchased 4 large healthy Rhodedendrons 2 years ago, and the Deer make special trips to eat them. They are not for our soil anyway, but I managed to keep them happy with Miracid until the deer did them in 2 years in a row.

    Deaths this spring included 2 Redbud (one a replacement for the first), a Chitalpa (marginal for this zone I guess), and a Yew that the dog kept chewing an peeing on. I replaced it with an Oregon Grape, and he doesn't dare mess with those prickly leaves.

    Also, has anyone planted Scotch Broom? It looks like long, long evergreen needles (hey kinda like a broom) through the winter, then flowers up profusely through May . The one out front is beautiful with rasberry flowers (each flower kind of looks like a double pedal together like a clam-shell). The ones out back are yellow, not my favorite color but I needed filler at the time (a sale you know) and they looked evergreen.

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    BTW, here is a list of what IMO NOT to get here in Utah , despite how pretty it looks at the garden center...

    1. Rhodedendrons/Azaleas (acid lover)
    2. Pin Oak (acid lover)
    3. Ferns (I've tried them 3 times in protected, shaded, moist areas, must be doing something wrong ;-)
    4. Davidii Vibernum (another acid freak)
    5. Dahlias (again, no luck unless you want to dig up the tubers -too much work)
    6. Hydrangea Macrowhatevera...I do have two that come up every year. Treat with acid fertilizer, look healthy green but no substantial flowering and are still tiny after 3 years. I remember reading there are Hydrangea varieties that do better out here.

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Delray:

    Are your red-twig dogwoods sheltered enough? I planted one of the variegated leaf red-twigs and it is all leafed out and beautiful right now. I also have it in a very sheltered alcove, where it gets about 4 hours of sunlight a year. It is also fairly protected against the wind.

    Our canyons are full of red-twig and its cousins. You might need to amend the soil to an insane degree. I started my alcove by filling it with compost 12 inches deep. The next year I added six more inches (without touching the crowns or trunks of any of the plants). Needless to say, it is very rich, slightly heavy soil that will grow just about anything.

    Dogwood shrubs like lots of water, too. They naturally grow near the streams around here.

    As far as ferns go, I have a friend who is a collector of hardy ferns from around the globe. He has collected over 80 species that grow in his yard, which is set up with black pinhole mesh standing half tent-like over the less hardy varieties. He even had a large potted Tasmanian tree fern for awhile (it had to go in the garage/coldframe in the winter)that he finally sold when it got too big for its 75-gallon plus pot.

    He gave me 5 different species of ferns. Some of them are very rare. He also gives occasional fern lectures at various gardens and campuses around the state, usually with Larry Sagers of the Utah State Agricultural Extension Services (you can hear Larry on Saturday mornings on KSL-radio 1160 AM).

    Only three of the species he gave me have survived, but they are flourishing.

    The dryopteris in particular is doing very well. You might want to look for a dryopteris species (wood fern) at the nurseries.

    He says the ostridge fern and bracken are easy to grow, but considers them weeds because of their invasiveness.

    I can't remember the exact species of the other two, although one is from the Himalayas! I know one is a polystichum from Japan and I think the Himalayan is an osmunda (the name even fits Utah, thank you Donnie and Marie...lol) :)

    I also have cinnamon ferns, autumn ferns, and athyriums that do quite well and are readily available at the local nurseries. I lost two lady ferns that I bought. Again, the trick is extreme shelter and extreme organic material. Also, plenty of water.

    If you want a challenge, try growing maidenhair fern. It needs pure shade, not one bit of sunlight or it'll burn up. I've even seen it growing in Zion Nat'l Park on a 110 degree day (tucked away in a shady cove, of course). If you can grow it, it will really reward you with one of the most beautiful delicate-leaved ferns.

    I also give these babies pelleted elemental sulphur for acidity. You can pick it up at Steve Regan Company in Murray. I've also used Mir-acid, which works immediately to increase the acidity, but longterm the sulphur is better. I also occasionally use aluminum sulphate once or twice a year, albeit in very small quantities. You have to be careful with it because you can give your plants aluminum poisoning if you get carried away.

    Speaking of acid-lovers, I have Scottish heather var. "Alba" that bloomed spectacularly this year. I give it the same treatment as the dogwood and this year it was a real eyecatcher. The neighbors all really commented on how pretty it is.

    As for the redbud deaths, I lightly amended the soil before planting and kept it top-dressed with three inches of organic and a dash of 10-10-10 fertilizer (rose fertilizer is great for redbuds) for the first 2-3 years. Mine are doing great. I started one patch from a mail-order bare-root. It has almost caught up with the nursery bought 6-footer on the parking strip. My mom lost her redbud var. "Forest Pansy", but then she got carried away with pruning it while it was still small. She also planted it in a very shady spot. Mine are planted in open exposure, full sunlight. I also didn't stake mine. I strongly believe that very few tree species need staking (like my mom did). Longterm, you'll have a much stronger tree (unless the wind is bending it to the ground the first few years).

    Speaking of redbuds, there is yard just off of 20th East in Sandy, north side of Stonewood Drive, that has two different varieties of redbud. They have the rare variety "Aurea", which bears brilliant lemon yellow blossoms in the spring. They also have the standard redbuds. It is spectacular to see the contrast every spring. I still haven't been able to find "Aurea" in any of the nurseries, although I've seen it available bare-root online.

    As for deer-resistant plants, buddleia (butterfly bush) works well. Daphne (acid-lover) is another good choice. Go to http://www.deerxlandscape.com and click on the "deer-resistant plants" link. They have a bunch.

    My next projects: needle palms and dwarf palmettos, the cold hardiest palms. Can it be done in northern Utah? Supposedly, they can stand a sheltered zone 5, especially if they are mulched heavily (over half the plant) in the winter. I saw pics on the net of a guy in Salt Lake who has a needle palm. If I can do it, I'll be able to brag about growing palms in Utah too...lol.

    Hope this all helps...

    Nice thread we have here, eh? We really ought to request an Intermountain West or Utah forum...

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Wow, you have had some exotic plant experiences! The Autumn fern and another one that had Purple and brown fuzzy leaves (seems it had an oriental name?) is what I had planted two years on the shady area near our pond. It was ok through the summer, but does not come up again the following year. The hostas do fine in the same area.

    The deer-resistant bush I am looking for would be something that keeps green year round. That is why I was considering Oregon grape, maybe Mountain Mahogany would work as well? I have a lot of butterfly bush, but I want a year-round green-screen ;-)

    As far as the red-twig dogwood, it is not in a particularly protected area. It is in a berms with some young trees, artic willow (which grows like crazy fast BTW). Maybe it is getting too much sun or wrong soil. I will amend around it first and see if that helps. I did not know they were that particular.

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    The purple fern you are referring to is called Japanese painted fern and it is eyecatching. I had one that, alas, I too lost. It made it for 3 years and it was doing great.
    Suddenly, it decided to disappear one winter. They are almost as difficult to grow as maidenhair ferns.

    For the evergreen hedge, you could try planting a bunch of "Skyrocket" junipers close together. Deer won't eat juniper. Also, the junipers are very xeric (as you probably already know).

    The western red cedar (thuja plicata) would also do the trick, although they eventually become gigantic.

    Any of the false cedars (chamaecyparis) and arborvitae will work too.
    Picea pungens "Fat Albert" is another hedgeable plant if you plant them close together. Even though we already have enough Colorado spruces around here...lol ;-) "Fat Albert" is nice looking and doesn't get ridiculous tall, although they do get rather fat. Gee, I wonder why they named them "Fat Albert"...heh heh

    I have a mountain mahogony, but it isn't green year round and I don't know if it would be deer resistant.

    Deer will occasionally eat anything if they are on the verge of starving to death.

    I used to have elk come down to my property, but they don't anymore because of the housing boom. I'm jealous that you have them right on your steps.

    From your earlier post, I too think it is horrible of the nurseries and supermarkets to sell all those acid-loving plants, with no warnings to the customers. They stick them all out in front where everyone can see how gorgeous their blooms are. I see SO MANY people being tricked as they smile and naively walk away with carts full of azaleas and rhododendrons. I wonder how upset they get when those beautiful blossomed beauties cack on the limestone-based soil we have around here.

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Utahns.

    I spent some of the weekend climbing in the Wasatch. As I descended, I couldn't take my eyes off the mountain mahogany. At higher elevations, I admired the sub alpines and white firs, but we covered that love last week. Anyway, I was struck by the rugged beauty of these mahoganies. The young ones made such an attractive bush and the mature ones a lovely multistemmed tree. I'm going to plant one on the sunny, dry side of my property. I see that Trees4Me has one, anyone else?

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I feel terrible that it took me so long to find this posting. I too live in the Great Basin; a tiny town of about 600 in Central Eastern Utah.Lots of sun, no water and tons of BROWN! When you said it had it's challenges you were writing scripture! I plant ferns every year but have yet to have any survive. My favorite tree is an Idaho Locust that struggles but shows off its pink/purple blooms so shamelessly for weeks every year that I continue to baby it. I am trying to crowd out my lawn with bigger and bigger flower beds. Shasty Daisys, Columbine, Roses, Clematis, Delphs,and a few others are very dependable but others simply a year to year experiment. I would love to support a Great Basin forum. We are unique and "Mountain West" really doesn't do it. Any other GB's out there?

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Schley,
    Now that that tall fescue has matured, do you still like it. I don't want to be critical, but my impression of it was that it grows kind of a wide blade. Does it have a big tough seed stem?

    I am now using a very top rated tall fescue. It has semi petite seed stem, and one of the highest endophyte levels of any fescue. The blade is not much wider than some of the bluegrasses. It is a winner, winner, winner! I've seeded some condos I maintain with it, and you can't tell it apart from the bluegrass now in August. It is just tops all around - no lawn pests, beautiful deep green, and pleasing texture. Also a more vertical habit than other tall fescues, so it maintains a nicer edge. Once started, you can water it once a week. It does well in our alkaline, clay soils. For those who got fed up this year with their bluegrass lawns, this is the way to go!

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi,

    I moved to the SL valley in 1986 and have been trying to grow things in the yard since I got my house several years ago. I'm having trouble growing trees in my front yard. I've tried river birch twice because I was told it would grow well. The first one the top died out and all we were left with was a bush. The second also died. Now we're trying a Redmond Linden, but it hasn't grown much in the past three years. My Rose of Sharons are taller than it is, and I had been trimming them because I thought I needed to do it every fall. Anyone have any help for getting the Linden to grow. Thanks

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Lindens should grow in the Salt Lake valley very well. There are many of them planted in parking strips. Perhaps the prettiest Linden I have ever seen was removed from the corner of Main and South Temple when the LDS Church did their Main Street Plaza. It killed me to see it go. I really think they could have worked around it.

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live at the far Western edge (almost) of the Great Basin in the Reno-Sparks area. I'm in the warm part of town, surrounded by mature trees, heat-absorbing asphalt and fairly dense housing tracts. There are also several irrigation ponds in the apartment complex behind my home which seem to help keeping everything just a bit warmer. The house was built on what was once swamp land and flood basin. The soil is mostly heavy clay with rocks which have mostly been removed over the last 30 years of wrestling with my garden. 30 years of compost and fallen leaf litter have helped the flower beds immeasurably.

    In back, my garden runs to shade-woodland-tropical: lots of hostas, hellebores, peonies and other members of the buttercup family (many other things as well). In front, my garden is moderately xeric and xeriscaped, using penstemons, alliums, lavenders, bearded irises, junipers, drought-tolerant roses and California poppies among other plants.

    Yes, I do have to water, but I don't feel too guilty about it, because we 1) have nearly no lawn, meaning less water usage overall, 2) don't own a dishwasher with all the attendant waste, 3) found our recently metered water bill is lower (when averaged over the year) than it was when we paid a flat rate and 4) I'm steadily moving more and more of both front and back gardens to soaker hose systems (I LOVE the Fiskars stuff).

  • 20 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    ljrmiller - tell us more about the Fiskars soaker hose, OK?

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Has anyone tried growing a pinyon pine in their yard? I've seen it listed for sale on a website of a nursery down by Gunnison, UT (Holden?).

    Also, has anyone tried a Wy'East pine? Very expensive but looks like a beautiful specimen tree and the nursery person said it did ok in alkaline soil.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Any advice for Utah springs on what to plant and not to plant?

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Like Trees4Me I live in Riverton too. The pressurized irrigation water has been a challenge. Anyone developed a list of trees, shrubs, flowers, etc. that do OK in Riverton with the pressurized irrigation water?

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I found this while poking around the usu extension website:
    Great Basin

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Sheesh, I'm just now finding this thread! Oh well, better late than never, right?

    Anyhow, I live on Hill Air Force Base, below Ogden & above Layton, beside Clinton, Roy, Clearfield, etc. What is that considered, zone & otherwise?

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live in South Weber and I was told by Valley Nursery in Uintah, that we are Zone 5.

    Good luck with your base housing yard. I had some nice base yards and some terrible ones.

    Gusman

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hey manp26, Pinions do great in most of Utah. the trick is re-establishing them after planting. You cant overwater but yet they need some watering to stay alive. After a year or two they don't need supplemental irrigation unless we have a very long summer dry spell.

    The species sold at great basinnatives in Pinus monophylla or single leaved pinion. It grows in western Utah and most of Nevada. I belive it is the most spectacular pine of all although Bristlecone man be the most interesting.

    You can buy large Pinus edulis and may Utah nurseries - call the whole sale places - they may sell you a lrge one for a good price.

    Good Luck, rk

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    followup on Fiskars soaker hose--that was the brand available at the time at Lowe's. It now is unbranded, but it's the same stuff. It's just like the big fat recycled tire soaker hose, but only 1/4" thick, and you use the RainDrip connectors (also available at Lowe's) and leader lines with it. All you need to install is a pair of sturdy scissors.

    I've since laid down a lot more of this thin soaker line all over my garden, because it allows me to give more water to plants needing it, while allowing me to avoid severely xeric plants altogether (e.g. cacti). I don't cover the hose with anything, because when a line breaks, I want to be able to find it and repair it quickly. The plants do a good job of hiding it during the growing season. It's only in winter that it looks like black spaghetti rained on my yard.

    I'm still being incorrigible and trying EVERYTHING, hardy or not. I started growing things from seed this year, and now I have way too many little seedlings of "everything". It's been a lot of fun, though. Most of my seedlings are rare perennial and bulb varieties, and I gave them a casual cold treatment by pressing the seed into pots of damp Jiffy-Mix, and covering the seed with either decomposed granite or sand depending on seed size, then setting the pots outside in January just as soon as the side of the house was accessible (that is, the record snowfalls had melted). I watered whenever the pots looked a bit dry, and once things started to germinate, I transfered the germinating pots to a big plastic storage box with 100 lbs. of damp sand in the bottom. Makes a great, easy, cheap cold frame.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Thanks, gusman.

    I hand-weeded the lawns last summer when we moved in & removed approximately 90 gallons of weeds. I did it again a few weeks ago & removed approximately 60 gallons of weeds. I'm still waiting for grass seed to sprout in an approximate 1/3 to 1/2 acre of lawn if all the bare spots (obviously from a previous dog) are put together.

    But all the rain we've been getting & that lovely joke from Mother Nature flooded the lawns so I think most of the seed has washed away.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I just found Garden Web and was looking for more gardeners in my area. I moved to the east bench of SLC (Millcreek area) five years ago into a house with established landscaping (well, SOME landscaping) and I have finally figured out what grows where. My former home was in Virginia where we had camellias, azaleas, hydrangeas, and dogwoods. Home Depot just sold my neighbor some camellias for her yard and I am watching to see how they do. HD also sells people pink flowering dogwoods, which are a trick to grow even in the south, so I am skeptical. After the weeks and weeks of rain we have had recently, it is hard to remember that plants whose water needs are minimal tend to be good choices, LOL.

  • 19 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hello everyone, I am a Great Basin cottage gardener in Salt Lake City, new to GardenWeb. Enjoyed reading these posts and thought I would encourage those in the SLC area to visit the Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District Demonstration Gardens (83rd S. and 1300 W.). They have a number of types of gardens and turf alternatives that are geared to our high desert area, that vary in amount of water needed and "look". They have a plant list for every garden area and the gardens are gorgeous. Gives you some great ideas for planting things that are likely to succeed and keep your watering needs low.

    They also will come to your home--for FREE--and test your existing sprinkling system and tell you how to adjust your watering times and locations to provide adequate coverage and not waste water. I don't work there but I have been there several different times and it is a great place.

    So GB-er's check it out. And BTW, I am gauralady because it is such a great plant and I love the way it blooms so long and moves so beautifully in a summer breeze.

  • 18 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I planted several Pinyons on the benches of Cache Valley. They did very well for 3 years and then got the dwindles and are now dead. They were established and rarely watered except in the height of summer. Utah State had several planted in appropriate minimally irrigated areas and lost all of them-dozens of trees. On campus they are fanatical gardners, so be careful, Pinyons are difficult at lower altitudes with city pressures. Oh, and somebody above confused a Cornus Florida with a Bailey redtwig dogwood. Redtwig dogwoods are tough and grow well. Siberian dogwoods are a little shorter and are also tough. However, C. Florida for Utah is zone appropriate but requires some babying in our cold, dry winters and alkaline soil.

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Just recently moved to Northern NV. Question for folks in this area. I am looking for ideas for shade trees. The more research I do on here, the more I find a laundry list of negatives regarding every tree I think I would like to try. I enjoy evergreens but want a few more species in the yard. I have 5 acres, so space is not a problem. However, I have an assortment of livestock and am weary of possible poisonous species. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    This is the first time I've written anything, but have loved reading about all the successes and challenges living here along the Wasatch Front--I'm in East Layton. Has anyone had any luck getting agapanthus to bloom,either in the garden or in containers and if so, do they need to be brought inside for the winter?

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I've got a question for someone in UT to answer. I was talking with my physical therapist about how Lake Bonneville must have been an awesome site & such a force to create some of the most beautiful scenery & he said the shore line is still visible on the mountains. I've looked at the closest, the Wasatch Front, but I'm not seeing. Where is it?!

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Hi Libby,

    I can't answer that, but why don't you start a separate thread for that question? More people will see it, and I bet you'll at least get some interesting comments, if not an easy answer.

    Skybird

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    Libby--it's kind of difficult to explain how to find the old shoreline (in places you can find more than one at different elevations) but once you see it, it's hard to miss.

    If you look at the mountains, maybe about halfway up, look for a horizontal line that runs along several mountains. Sometimes, the line is little more than a slight change in color of the plants growing on the mountain, other times, there may be a slight ledge, and other times, there may be a bit of rock outcropping. It's a little odd, because at times, you'll see the line and realize that now that you know how to find it, it's obvious, but goes back and forth between change in shade of green vs rock outcropping vs slight ledge.

    It's one of those cases where it's not obvious that it's a line until it's obvious it's a line (sort of like those pictures where it's a vase and somebody asks if you see the two faces and once you see them, you don't understand why it wasn't obvious before).

  • 17 years ago
    last modified: 9 years ago

    I live in Lehi, UT. Would love to discuss landscaping in my area. I really want an alpine fir but am having a very hard time finding inof on them or even a ploace to buy them.