There are several considerations when caring for, and choosing a tree for a desert landscape.  The weather alone will not only play a role in this decision process.  Factors such as water, soil and wildlife will also become variables when deciding which desert tree is the right fit for your property.

Wildlife – If you are attempting to attract wildlife, such as lizards, rabbits, and/or other small creatures, it is pertinent to choose a variety of shade trees for your desert property.  Any creature will be attracted to the shade, especially when the sun is at its hottest temperatures of the day.  Birds such as:  pigeons, hawks and crows will prefer palms or willows, with larger leaf capacity.  While grounded animals will prefer trees such as pines, which will provide numerous branches with small hiding places.

Shade – It is not only the desert animals that will benefit from tree shade.  When choosing a desert tree for your property, shade value, and correct placement of that shade value, will be important.  If a large shade tree is hundreds of feet from your home, it may not be as beneficial with respects to the sun.  Although, if you are looking to shade a picnic area or workshop on your land, placement of the tree should respectively be considered.  When purchasing a tree, be sure to ask how much potential shade the tree will project at full maturity.  This shade can greatly cut down on your electrical costs, as well as the sun-wear on your home.

Water – Water is often scarcely available or of higher cost in open desert areas.  If you are trying to conserve water, it is best to check the prepared water schedule of your new desert tree choice.  Some trees require a more tedious watering schedule then as compared to others.  Before choosing a tree, ask which trees will require more or less water maintenance.  From here, you can then estimate the time and cost to water, within your means.

Planting – It is often best to plant desert trees in the fall season.  This will give your new desert tree time to acclimate to the hot weather, before the heat of summer reappears.  In winter, the roots will also have time to develop during a cooler temperature, with moist, vitamin-condensed soils.

When digging the hole for your new tree, you will hit a hard substance, just a few inches below the earth’s surface.  This substance is referred to as desert caliche.  Caliche is the Spanish term for calcium carbonate.  Be sure to break this substance up and/or remove it completely from your hole.  In doing so, water will be able to drain properly through the dirt and subsoils.  The roots of your tree will also have the ability to develop properly.

Desert trees carry very different needs and requirements as far as their overall care.  Although, the beauty and growing capacity of your tree will remain, regardless of the terrain.  When purchasing a desert tree, it is always beneficial to ask questions of your tree salesperson or care specialist.

About the Author: Andrew Johnson is the owner of Central Texas Tree Care, a leading provider of Austin tree services in Central Texas. Certified ISA Austin arborist services including: tree trimming, tree removal, tree care and stump removal. For more information on Austin tree service please visit

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