Seen While Driving in My Area

Though Las Cruces is spread out, I sometimes take my camera to record different standout landscape designs I drive by.

This is in front of a small office complex with a restaurant; the people developing this complex mentioned all the trees and yuccas volunteered, since the swale catches extra stormwater.


Chilopsis linearis is the tree, with Yucca elata, a few Atriplex, and Larrea growing in-between. Occasionally, the trees are pruned up.

But oddly, the trees are progressively smaller to the right, which is downhill and where more stormwater should flow into.

I’m surprised to lease out and sell remaining lots and offices, that this same effect wasn’t carried to the other frontages including passive water harvesting. Not to mention some entry monumentation with stronger plantings.

But my former field is an afterthought once again.



Up the road, this planting has always caught my eye. A split rail fence using railroad ties, with a loose hedge of Opuntia ellisiana planted to grow through it, is quite effective. The architecture of a token tile roof and rock wall not so much…



The evening light on a warmish June evening is a sight to behold. Agave neomexicana is so common but so fitting, more than I ever realized 10 years ago while wrapping up the design.


You won’t find too much on my posts like this about oleanders, stunted crepe myrtles, lollipop-shaped ash and pears, or lantanas. But one should agree that what’s common in the Las Cruces area is significantly more native, adapted, or appropriate than what’s common where I lived 21+ years on my last blog.

That’s often with an overall, effective design, too – crucial on releasing a place from horticultural repression.

7/17/17 weather: 94 / 65 / 0.55

Streetscape: On a Good Note

While there are more pitfalls a designer cannot anticipate, experience, knowing the ecoregion, and what it produces are a plus.

Even though city facilities overruled better ponding areas, the vegetation came out like I pictured. Basins with salt-tolerant grasses, and slopes with low shrubs and grass clumps, which will show more once our monsoon season gets serious.


The densities are aided by the rotary irrigation, but are still typical of the dense end of Chihuahuan desert grassland.

The gently swaled median is doing well: Leucophyllum zygophyllum, Cercis texanum, Yucca rostrata x thompsoniana (?), and Bouteloua gracilis.



Of course the common-for-good-reason Chilopsis linearis is thriving…most I specified here were the Bubba variety.


Lightly-fragrant, loving abuse including caliche, how could I go wrong?


It’s great when the maintenance sheets are applied to a maturing landscape like here, instead of counterproductive shearing and shaping – grasses, shrubs, trees, and anything else with chlorophyll.

I’m happy because the owner is getting what they payed me for, which is what they entrusted me to design for the near-term and future.

7/12/17 weather: 99 / 69 / T

Irrigation Inconsistencies

Clients and others may envision a grassy meadow or prairie, from a magic combination of will, soil amendments, and some method. Some even claim that will require no irrigation when established.

As the landscape architect I get to bring them back to earth – our 4000′ elevation, 8 inches of rain per year, earth.


Bringing balance by listening, educating, and crafting a design, I try to satisfy owner desires with my knowledge and compliance with often-shifting code interpretations of the governing municipality, before the contractor can make it happen.

But when one isn’t able to use water harvesting off roadways, drip irrigation is not just needed to establish; it is needed in all but the wetter periods to grow more than just isolated shrub desert.

What happens when something with the drip system fails?

Contrast the adjacent grama grass clumps below to above.


Is the issue the irrigation? Are there clogs in the emitters and poly line, or a break in the PVC pipe feeding the above? What is the schedule? Are there any pressure issues in one area but not other areas or zones?

Is it partly due to soil types? There is a great deal of caliche in the soil layer at this project site, and Bouteloua gracilis might be sensitive to that.

We know the issue is not the Bouteloua gracilis, native to the general area of the site. Only slight irrigation is required to keep grama grass green in our growing season.

We also know that one successful stand adjacent to one that isn’t, or scattered trees doing poorly vs. trees doing well may contradict bad soils that localized. The site is mass-graded, meaning uniformly disturbed; it’s not a fallow country acre.


7/10/17 weather: 98 / 69 / T