Maintenance Mystery

Here’s the same development’s landscape, but different treatments to the same plants and for no apparent reason. Is someone listening and starting to think while experimenting?


Yucca faxoniana / Faxon or Palm Yucca


These different treatments are under 8 feet apart. The missing understory plants is another topic, for now.


Above: that yucca has been allowed to grow naturally, with a spiky sphere of live, green foliage to photosynthesize (manufacture food) for its roots. I learned about photosynthesis by the 7th grade!

Food is crucial to long-lived plants.

Below: this yucca has had over 1/2 of it’s live, green foliage removed. Often someone believes it needs trimming to look better. The live crown, important to plant health, was exposed from over-pruning; only the bottom 3 inches is brown and appropriate for removal, if at all.


One can research the need for plant photosynthesis and ways to neaten the skirt of dead leaves on yuccas (or palms) without doing long-term damage to the crown.

“Look better?” At least this couple gets to change out of their party costume; the plant can’t and is affected for years:



Dasylirion wheeleri / Blue Sotol


Above: adequate room, but left to grow naturally. Below: adequate room, but the aesthetic of the original plants is gone for a long time. The sotols won’t soften the view of utility boxes, either.



I’m sure any relationship between Hawai’i and Las Cruces is a coincidence.


Nolina greenei / Beargrass


Above: adequate room, but the beargrasses are left to grow naturally and sway in the wind.  Below: adequate room, but the beargrasses met the power hedge trimmers and became chopped cylinders.


All the above plant species require no pruning or shaping, and they look better that way than what many do.

Money saved by not doing counterproductive tasks can be applied to necessary landscape tasks. Imagine how much money adds up long-term, when monthly or even quarterly tasks are pared down to only what’s beneficial.

It costs less to do nothing or use restraint, and have elegance.


In another post, I’ll show you what can happen to ocotillos around these parts. Many aren’t so lucky, but these are sliding by so far!



7 Replies to “Maintenance Mystery”

  1. I saw the same thing done to some plants when I had a holiday in Lanzarote, so sadly it happens in Europe too, it damages the plant and looks dreadful,

    The universal link must be those without taste or a too-tight maintenance budget, to consider doing/allowing only beneficial maintenance.


  2. Some people pull the “skirts” of dry leaves off their tree aloes here–the skirts the plants hold on to, to protect the trunk from sun damage. It’s all in line with cutting shrubs into neat and tidy cube and meatball shapes. :(

    Agreed, the need of some for plants to be perfect scares me in what they miss…protection from climate extremes, etc. I have a neighbor…and yes, 2 Washingtonias in the back yard, 100% out of context here.


  3. What a waste of time and effort. I don’t get why a person would find this pleasing to the eye. Looks like a chainsaw massacre!

    Preaching to the choir! I really, really wish I could see what gets into people who not just accept but demand that.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait…someone would do something…ANYthing to ocotillo?! I’ve seen everything else but am new to this. I dread seeing it.

    I first saw it 2 decades ago on an ocotillo that grew above a 1 story flat roof. Then I moved to El Paso, and many on I-10 got hit that year…it’s bad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think they look better natural with the dry skirt if you will. I prefer not triming ornamental grasses as is so common here once they have gone golden. I never did like flat tops and especially not on grasses. The brown bits on yuccas can makes good animal habitat. I wonder if it helps the plant stay cooler?

    Me too, including ornamental grasses. Other than wasp nests in dead skirts, they are great for habitat and I’m convinced they insulate for cold and heat extremes!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh, people who turn desert plants into pineapples deserve a special place somewhere… They do that here too, and I always feel so bad for the yuccas!

    And I want an ocotillo!

    I like how you think! As opposed to how “they” “think”. Do it – ocotillos are everywhere here, and they really fill out in the high desert…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I have a Yucca linearifolia and Y. rostrata, as well as a few Dasylirion wheeleri. I groaned out loud when I saw that second photo, of the massacred Dasylirion. I am shuddering at the thought of what might be done to Ocotillo there. What a beautiful specimen in that island bed!

    That’s excellent you pull those off, but not surprised. This type of brutalizing catches on then takes over. The ocotillo…it’s bad, yet all their islands and streetscapes I designed still are OK.

    Liked by 2 people

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