By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels
Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 02/28/20
This might be a great time to walk around gardens in Las Cruces, including the beautiful landscaping at City Hall, to simply observe. Observe and see which plants are doing well. According to David Cristiani, former landscape architect and, upcoming presenter at Las Cruces Utilities’ (LCU) Lush and Lean workshop, now is the time to investigate how plants function in even our mild winter weather. Those are the hardy plants you want in your garden.
Cristiani’s presentation “Water-Efficient Landscape Design” is coming up Thursday, March 5, 2020, at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library. Walking nearby in front of City Hall, he points at the different hybrid trees, like a Desert Museum Palo Verde, and ground covering that does well in Las Cruces, like the red and yellow ice plant or the wind-catching mounds of beargrass.
“We’ll talk about some of the basic components of landscape design,” said Cristiani. “We’ll think about knowing the space in order to improve the space. We’re solving a functional issue - having a space that works but also provides habitat, is nice to look at, and one you want to spend time in.”
Garden owners might do well to be reflective on their desires. “Many times, they say they want a low-maintenance garden…when they truly want a no-maintenance garden,” he explains.
Sometimes the pendulum swings in the other direction. “There’s a region-wide issue of over-shaping plants, which prevents them from blooming as intended and really does a disservice to the plant and the garden as a whole,” he said. “That’s ironic to waste such money in our area regarding our landscaping, since many individuals have tight budgets or municipalities claim they are understaffed. Sometimes it’s best to make sure that certain plants aren’t crowded; however, sometimes certain plants do well together, one provides shade or groundcover to another. It takes research.”
That leads to his other recommendation: Find someone skilled to take over when you’ve had a professionally installed landscape, someone who knows how to maintain it and keep it looking healthy. Or, as a basic starter, pick up basic skills at his presentation to know some of the industry jargon to work on the conceptual designs and long-term maintenance of your own garden.
“You can create a water-conserving and easy-to-maintain landscape that can provide multiple functions like erosion control and cooling your home with shade,” Cristiani said, “but the first step is to get informed about life - and plant life - in the desert.”
All LCU Lush and Lean workshops are free and open to the public. They are held Thursday evenings at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, 200 E. Picacho Ave, in the Roadrunner Room from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. See the complete list of speakers and Lush and Lean dates at http://www.las-cruces.org/1288/Lush-Lean-Workshops.
You can reach Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: David Cristiani, former landscape architect, encourages gardeners to not only think conceptually about their gardens, but also consider basic components to create a successful outdoor space. Join him at the free Lush and Lean presentation on Thursday, March 5, at the Thomas Branigan Memorial Library at 5:30 p.m.