All posts by plantergirl

Barbecue Time

Hot and Cold

I have seen outdoor kitchens, and I must tell you I am impressed. This is much more than your average Smokey Joe charcoal grill or Coleman camp stove. Outdoor kitchens are just what they seem. An island area with a built in grill and optional mini-fridge.

One thing I really like it that there is a counter top to set all your dishes on so people do not have to tromp in and out of the house. The mini-fridge can be stocked with drinks or the cold food for the gathering. Cooking outside on a grill in Phoenix will help keep your house cooler. Or at least stress the air conditioning unit less.

An outdoor kitchen is a place for friends and family to gather. There is nothing I like more than a picnic or grilling. I like to cook and love to bake. However, there are times I want to do a simpler meal. Burgers or brats on the grill are just the ticket. I like to add some sides. It is easy and quick. If I am lucky and I don’t really want to cook, it is much easier to get my significant other to grill than cook on a stove inside.

I do make side dishes to go along with the grilled items. I do not have an outdoor kitchen, but if I invested in one, I think I would like the optional mini-fridge. It would be a great place for the potato salad, condiments and drinks. I like my potato salad cold. I get suspicious of items that sit out in the sun and heat too long.

What would make this even better is to add a gazebo and patio. Throw in a few comfy chairs and a table. Now you have a place to entertain all year round. Well all year except for when it snows every 5 years or so. If you are originally from up north, you may even grill in the snow.

If you think this is a great addition to your property, call Walter at Redwood Landscaping today. Let him give you a free estimate.

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Flash Flood

Flash Flood

Tragedy in Arizona

This post was going to be about my birthday, which is today. Instead, I am sad. I grieve for the lives that were lost in the flash flood up by Payson this past weekend. Lives gone. An extended family devastated. Adults and children.

If you live in the Phoenix or Mesa area, I am sure you have been warned about driving into the washes when there is a monsoon rain. It is the same in the high country for creeks and canyons. The water comes down so fast and heavily, it doesn’t have time to sink into the ground. It turns into runoff. This past weekend, the runoff or flash flood turned deadly.

Water Wheel is a local Payson place for people to get in the river and a swimming hole. The monsoons were higher on the Mogollon Rim where the Highline Fire was just weeks ago. The burn area did not have trees or bushes to stop the rain. Basically the burn area acted like a heavy rain rushing across a parking lot and ending up in a drainage ditch. The water runs more quickly, has debris in it and rises quickly. A strong adult would be knocked aside by the wall of water. They were.

The flash flood came out of nowhere for this family. There is basically no phone service in the area to broadcast alerts. The heavy rainfall was farther north, not on the people enjoying the day at Water Wheel. Nature can be cruel and dangerous. If it is not the heat, it is the cold or a wall of water. I cannot begin to imagine what the survivors and other family members of this tragedy are going through. It is hard enough when one family member dies. They lost ten. Four family members were rescued.

The rains have been more numerous and the amount of water is greater this year in the Rim Country area. It seems like every day I am getting alerts for Gila County for thunderstorms and flash floods.

Every location on earth has its natural disasters. In Phoenix and the Valley, the big ones are heat, dust storms and flash floods. Any person can only try to be aware and prepare the best they can.

Update: The Water Wheel area is closed for 40 days. I am assuming this is to do cleanup of the debris and possibly to protect us against flooding.

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Monsoon Season

Afternoon Drizzle?

I have lived a few places where there is a monsoon season. Oklahoma, Texas and now Arizona. The afternoon rains can cool off the day. Sometimes for the rest of the day, sometimes for only a short time. If the clouds retreat and the sun shows its face again, the humidity can be horrible. The valley area is a little different as the amount of rain is still a lot less than other parts of the country. The monsoon season has dumped less than an inch of rain in much of valley this month. Monsoons let the cacti and other plants drink some much needed moisture.

I grew up in the Midwest as I say often, and I really do enjoy a good thunderstorm. I really enjoy a day when there is a slow drizzle all day. It gives the water time to soak into the ground and give the plants a good soaking. In Arizona, there are times the rain comes from the sky in a fierce downpour. There is a lot of water in a short time. The water doesn’t have time to soak into the ground, resulting in runoff. Runoff water can cause a lot of damage.

It runs in the low spots and eventually will create a ditch by taking the top layers of dirt with it. With the next monsoon storm, the trench is deeper. After thousands of years you end up with something like the Grand Canyon. With any landscaping or raw property, you want water to go where it does the least damage. A good landscaper will take a look at the high and low spots in your yard and plan accordingly.

Rocks can be used to shore up ditch areas. It would not be a good thing to have a beautiful landscaping finished and end up with a washed out section because of the summer rains. There are many items to take into consideration when planning a landscaping job. Contact Walter at Redwood Landscaping today to get your free estimate scheduled.

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Independence Day

Star Spangled Picnic

One of my favorite holidays is the Fourth of July, otherwise known as Independence Day. I don’t care where you are from, if you are like me, hearing the National Anthem or another patriotic song will bring a tears to your eyes. I appreciate all the things that those that came before me sacrificed. I like the patriotic feeling of togetherness in my heart.

Parades. Fireworks. Red. White. Blue. As a child, we went to parades. Even if we had something else going on were we could not get to a parade, we heard it. We lived 2 blocks from the street they went down. After the parade, we either grilled out or went on a picnic to one of the nearby Forest Preserves. One of my all-time favorite foods was the watermelon at the end of the meal. Back then, they had seeds. Some of the melons had lots of seeds. We would spit them out where ever we were. The grass in our backyard was a typical place. I think we ate slices of watermelon outside most of the time. A bite would send the juice running down our chins. We ate them outside so my mom didn’t have to clean up all the sweet stickiness of the juice. I was hopeful that the watermelon seeds would become volunteer plants.

We didn’t have a set picnic or patio area at home. The picnic table got moved for each project or every time we mowed the lawn. Our spears to cook hotdogs or marshmallows over a fire were wire hangers straight at one end and a loop handle at the other.

We had a full lawn. Arizona is different. Some kind of patio or artificial grass is a must or dirt is stirred up by walking. Redwood Landscaping has installed some areas that are picnic heaven. An outdoor kitchen complete with a mini-fridge. Artificial grass and paver patios. Travertine pavers are wonderful to look at. If they work around an existing pool, the yards look amazing.

So my plan tomorrow is to go watch the fireworks and be thankful for my life. I haven’t had a roll of caps in years, but I sure remember hitting them with a hammer. Happy Fourth of July!

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I’m Melting!

Over 100!

I’m not sure what people did before air conditioning. Well, actually, I do. They survived. They tried to stay out of the sun. They worked early and late in the day maybe taking a nap during the hottest part of the day.

I grew up in the Midwest. We would have hot and humid days, but we had plenty of shade to play in. We also had a basement in our house. There was a big attic fan to pull cooler air through the bedrooms at night.

Living in Arizona, you might think that I would be used to the heat. The heat doesn’t bother me as much as hot-humid days. I get irritable. This year was similar to 1990 when I visited family and there was record setting heat. I think I walked somewhere one time that heat wave. I remember dreading getting into a car.

Every day this June has been over 100 degrees with the past week or so being over 110. This may not be true at the official weather station in Phoenix or in Mesa, but at people’s houses… I don’t care if it is a “dry heat” I’m melting! I live higher than Phoenix so I am at cooler temperatures. It was over 100. I’m still melting!

I am not a big fan of air conditioning, I prefer fresh air. But in the summer heat, I need air conditioning or a swamp (evaporative) cooler. I like to live where I can open the windows at night and be cool enough with a window fan.

How does this all fit in with landscaping? Plants require tending. If you do not have automatic sprinklers and drip systems, you have to do it yourself. In the heat. Landscaping can also provide shade for your yard and house. It can reduce your energy bills if you have shade items by the house. Then there is an outdoor kitchen. You can cook outside and not heat up your house. These are not the old Smokey Joe grills. July 4th is just around the corner and a great time to gather with friend and family. Check out our Outdoor Kitchens and our Summer Specials.

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It’s a Dry Heat

Heat is Heat

Summer had definitely been here if you go by temperatures. If you go by the calendar, it will be here in a couple of days. Mesa and quite a bit of Arizona are hard on plants. I have seen some cacti drying up. The earth is cracked. Dust is blowing. The wind doesn’t cool you off, it dries you out.

I seem to be drinking a lot more water, but I still feel dehydrated some days. Living in Arizona, I do not go anywhere without water in my bag or the car. It can mean life or death.

I see the plants at the box stores and my first thought is “will they survive the heat, sun and lack of water?” Many plants they sell are not ideally suited for the East Valley area. Since I moved I am not out at my property all the time. My established plants are doing pretty well. I planted many of them in the shade. When I first moved there, I make the mistake of believing a plant tag that said “sunny”. Sunny in the desert means something different than sunny in other parts of the country.

The East Valley air is arid. It will suck the moisture out of your dirt. This is why it is so important to consult with a professional landscaper. They know what plants you can put in that will have the best chance of survival. They also know drip systems. They can help your yard be an oasis in the desert and something to be proud of.

You do not want friends or family to come and visit and your yard is cracked dirt with sad little dried up plants. You want some color by your house. Green. Vibrant pinks. Bright whites.

Call the professionals at Redwood Landscaping. They take pride in their work. They can design or help you design your yard. They will make it a thing of beauty where you want to spend time.

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Fire On the Mountain

Haze is in the Air

I was driving from Flagstaff through Payson the other day and I saw a haze. The Highline Fire was in full swing. The picture on this post is a photograph I took of the smoke plume. The haze in the sky is the smoke from the fire. The fire started June 10th.

Arizona has suffered some bad fires over the years. Even though Mesa is a big city, fire is still a danger. The lack of moisture in the air dries out plants. There is a program called “Firewise” that people in rural areas apply to their homes and whole communities. Basically, you want to keep any fire from having too much fuel, dry fuel.

Landscapers do not just put pretty flowers in your yard; they can help with cleanup after disasters, storms and with general overgrowth problems. They can also make sure that your plants have the appropriate moisture levels through drip systems. Landscaping is not a one-time-and-you’re-done-forever type situation. Plants may get too big and overgrown for the area they are in.

Fires may be spectacular to look at, but not if it is your house or property. People can and do lose everything.

I am reminded every year that fire is a part of Arizona. It is not a pleasant part of Arizona. Be proactive and have your property evaluated.
Call Redwood Landscaping for an estimate for a yard cleanup and tree trimming.

Even if a fire seems like it is far away, that only depends on the wind direction and the speed of the wind. Embers can travel quite a distance and start a new fire or expand the existing fire.

As far as the Highline Fire goes, I am grateful for the firefighters that save our communities every year. They are hardworking, professional personnel. They travel around to different fires, breath smoke, get covered in soot, and work in conditions I would not wish on my worst enemy. They put their lives on the line to protect us. And for that I am grateful.

Update: The Highline Fire is 100% contained and ended up burning 7198 acres.

Another Note: Even thought it might seem the city is safer, there was a brush fire that closed part of I-17 and West Loop 303 on June 22nd. It ended up burning 1,676 acres. It was fully contained in a few days.

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How Dry I Am


I overheat. I am prone to getting too hot in the sun. I like to be in the sun, it just doesn’t like me. I guess I am like some plants. I am not a cactus, I am a Midwestern plant. I wilt. So, just like me, the plants need to stay hydrated.

There are various reasons a person chooses landscaping for their property or house. It may be in housing association rules. A person may want to improve the looks and value of their property. Lights may be added for security reasons. Flowers and plants may be added for aesthetic reasons. A patio area may be added for family fun. And water. Water will be added in all of these scenarios to keep the plants alive.

The arid desert air in the East Valley is a harsh environment. There is moisture in the plants and underground, but the heat bakes it out. Drip systems are an essential part of your landscaping plans. A person can do watering themselves, but how can someone guarantee that they will be able to keep to the necessary watering schedule. If they miss a day or two, their investment in plants can be lost. There are plants that are drought hardy and drought resistant, but even those need water. If you have ever seen a cactus, during a dry spell, they shrink in size. When there is an abundance of water, they get fat.

Watering systems need to be adjusted periodically depending on the season. The systems need to be inspected and parts replaced on a regular basis. Drip and sprinkler systems are set to dispense the water required for the plants they are tending. They generally do not water during the hottest part of the days as there would be more water evaporation. Drip systems allow the water to go right into the ground right by the roots where it is needed.

Let a professional like Redwood Landscaping evaluate your landscaping water needs.

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Flag Pole

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is the beginning of the summer for many people. In Phoenix and the East Valley, it is already warm. It has been in the upper 90s and lower 100s. If you retired, it is a busy weekend with more people running around on Monday. If you are still a working stiff, then it is a 3 day weekend! Woo Hoo!

Memorial Day is a day to fly your US Flag. Time to be thankful for what others have sacrificed. As a child, we liked to be the one who put the flag on the front of the house. We were always careful to not let it touch the ground. I think part of the reason is that we had to climb up and stretch around the front of the house to put it in the bracket. Exciting stuff for a child.

Some people like a flagpole in their yard. You always have to check what housing association rules and local ordinances are before installing a flagpole. If you have existing features in your yard or are getting items installed, be sure to contact a professional landscaper like Redwood Landscaping in Mesa to get their ideas to enhance your new or existing items. If you have a tree or flagpole or built in barbeque whether it is the front or back yard, hardscape or softscape can be used to make your features stand out. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I like the look of flowers or a rock area around a tree or flagpole to set it off.

The other thing that I like about professionals is they listen to what you want and are able to suggest plants that will fulfill your wishes. I happen to like blooming flowers and don’t mind bees, butterflies or birds feeding. I remember how my parent’s yard had flowers from the crocus pushing through the snow to autumn mums. They can definitely make your yard more beautiful! Call Walter at Redwood for a free quote today!

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