Newly Registered
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:46 am

Controlling, eliminating weeds, etc. in desert dirt

I am in Tucson AZ. My house is on about 0.65 acre and was neglected for a few years before I owned it. The grounds are all desert dirt, front, side and back with a gravelly appearance and other undesireable debris in the dirt. There are many grass like patches low to the ground and other vegetation growing 2-3 ft high. I want to eliminate all this and start with clean desert dirt, well tended and then explore landscaping possibilities. I want to keep a sparse appearance. BTW no grass and well tended dirt is very common in the southwest. Existing plants I will keep are palo verde trees, mesquite trees, a saguaro cactus, barrel cactii, a couple ocotillos and oleanders.
Just to improve appearance now I would like to rake, sweep, pull, dig up anything undesirable. Then in spring I would spray a preemerge and spot treat anything undesireable that comes back. Am I on the right track or should I leave what is growing and treat it in spring? Is there an herbicide I would spray now to treat undesireable growth?

User avatar
Super Green Thumb
Posts: 25279
Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Congratulations on having the good sense not to try to grow lawn in AZ! I think xeriscaping like you are talking about can be very beautiful.

I'm not a big fan of poisons, so for now I would just do as you suggested: rake, sweep, pull, dig up anything undesirable.

In my climate, my next step would be to mulch it, with organic stuff like wood chips and grass clippings, fall leaves, etc. That suppresses weeds and then breaks down to feed the soil. HOWEVER, in your climate and to do xeriscaping, I think you want to keep your sandy desert soil and not enrich it and make it loamier. So that makes it harder. You could put down weed barrier fabric and /or gravel, crushed rock .

Posts: 13634
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:32 am
Location: Hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Weeds and stuff fly in from neighbors and walk in on shoes. I'm taking it you are not watering anything so that should help. My mom's friend landscaped their yard with rocks and concrete, because my dad is not a fan of weekly mowing. He isn't a fan of weeding either. A propane tank hooked up to a flamer does a decent, albeit temporary job of burning off the top growth of the weeds. Do it before they go to seed. It clears the brush quickly but you still have to dig out the roots.

Return to “Landscaping”