Reveg – Cowboy Up!

Several seasons later, my last posts showed a desert subdivision’s common areas. My focus was how revegetation seeding and some other plantings established over time, in spite of drought.

Which plants made it?

MV S Ph1-RevegE05_2013-10-22-SML
10/13 – infinitely more diverse than the 1 species cover crop of Summer 2012

By Fall 2013, most plants growing were native, with most in the seed mix as specified.

MV S Ph1-RevegE06_2013-10-22-SML
Purple Three-Awn, Snakeweed, Dropseed, Desert Marigold, etc.

Do you see the plant density here?

Meadows of 100% plant cover are the exception in arid desert – unsustainable without far more water and different soils than this project.

I’m not after that on the majority of land, the uplands here. 1/4 to 1/3 soil cover is what most Chihuahuan desert grassland sustains; we’re almost there.

This site averages about 8″ rain / year, but the irrigation system adds another 10″+ to that, ensuring live plant cover decreases less in drought.

MV S Ph 1-WeedsJeffA01_2013-10-22-SML
Doña Ana County Extension’s Jeff Anderson sees Johnson Grass…uh oh!

I brought out the big guns. Jeff knows horticulture, so I gained much touring him through work designed at Metro Verde.

Originally from Minnesota, he’s a westerner now…like that belt buckle!

Cowboy up or stay home, the bumpersticker says. The invasive grass needs removal and monitoring, so all else can grow better; so do a few Siberian elm volunteers, thirsty and damaging to hardscape.

MV S Ph1-RevegLinPondNW01_2013-11-13-SML
11/13 – another linear ponding area, similar mix, after some frosts

That’s one of other linear ponds to the north and east of the one I’ve posted on, using the same seed mix and irrigation design, but finished the next year.

Originally, ponding areas had free-form edges, visual features (boulder outcroppings, a few specimen plantings), and arroyo trees in the bottoms. Even passive spaces near the trees for the dry 95% of the year.

Denied! The public works dept. required truck access into ponding areas, so trees would get in the way and be too much maintenance…same with other ideas.

MV S Ph1-RevegLinPondNW02_2013-11-13-SML
more recent seeding, but same plant mix as the first 3 photos

Even one native tree volunteered into a few areas, from wild stands – Desert Willow / Chilopsis linearis.

The city landscape architect also noticed a Chilopsis; it won’t do harm where it is, though they do reseed. I hope her notice is good and not an omen, and those with the “need” to drive trucks everywhere won’t rip them out.

“Cowboy up” isn’t always good in the wild (south)west.


3 Replies to “Reveg – Cowboy Up!”

  1. I do love the gray-greens and golden yellows and agree that a purple wall (you have plans there yet!?!) would be the perfect counterpoint.

    And, here’s another vote for the trees. Perhaps a few will grow in spaces leaving reasonable truck access and they’ll be left as “habitat enhancements”!

    No plans for a colored wall, except maybe at a residence or two:-) I’m tempted to help a few trees get in there…Johnny Appleseed of Desert Willow, Screwbean, or Soapberry?


  2. Love seeing your desert meadow and learning how it grows. More beauty, preservation of soil and habitat for wildlife.

    David, would be fun to meet up during your trip to Texas. Let me know if there’s a time I can join you for an outing or meal? Or a visit to a craft brewery or winery…

    At least I hope so…but with good maintenance, it seems to be coming into its own. Just so no one turns it into a prairie meadow or lawn!

    I’ll probably be at the mercy of the driver and work, but I’ll let you know. If not this time, next time including a show at Gruene Hall. Hope to hear how you and Denny are settling into your house in town!


  3. Beautiful results with your project reflecting the patience and timing. Matching the greens and golds of nearby homes to the plants is a beautiful thing too. The desert marigolds add just the right balance and subtle contrast.

    I hope the tree gets to stay. Retama seedlings in the easement near our house are run down by the utility trucks yet they persist in regrowing.

    Thanks, it all worked out, thanks to the NM building style that blends into the land – at least until someone like me adds a purple wall! Many golds and yellows in flowers here. Agreed, and thankfully Chilopsis reseeds and is tough like your Retama.

    (though 5 years ago, NMDOT tore out perfectly located 12’+ Chilopsis volunteers, nicely pruned by a retired state forester and volunteers, from a major arterial’s medians in Abq. “Unsafe” they say…yet dueling 50-60 mph traffic is safe?…some engineers!)


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