Homeowners and landscapers wanting to show off their water-efficient landscapes might want to consider entering their work in the Southern Nevada Water Authority's free Landscape Awards contest.
Each year, the SNWA seeks attractive and functional water-efficient landscapes installed by homeowners and landscape professionals. For more information about the contest visit www.snwa.com on the Internet or call (702) 258-2417. May 7 is the deadline to enter.
This year's Landscape Awards finalists will receive prizes from the Water Conservation Coalition, Springs Preserve, Star Nursery, the Nevada Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the Southern Nevada Landscape Association.
With all of the new introductions of water-conserving plants, homeowners are able to have more color in their yards than ever before and are doing it with so much flair. Right now, cassia, acacia, lantana, brittlebush, cactus, roses and hundreds more are blooming around the valley. The cool spring has been ideal for colorful landscapes.
The contest has three goals:
■ Identify and reward beautiful, water-efficient landscapes.
■ Encourage others to adopt water-efficient landscapes.
■ Recognize entrants for their contributions to water conservation.
There are three rules to follow to enter the contest:
■ Your landscape must be in the SNWA service area.
■ Submit up to six color photos for judging by mail or email.
■ Label each photo with your name and address.
Judges do the first round of judging based on your photos. It's important to capture the beauty of your landscape to entice them to visit.
Here are some tips to make your photos more appealing.
■ Take photos early or in the evening to ensure better lighting.
■ Shoot different angles for judges to better evaluate your entry.
■ Shoot photos with the sun behind you while facing the landscape.
The SNWA will announce winners at an awards ceremony in June.
Your landscape will be judged on appearance, its irrigation system, plant selection and use of mulches.
Go to the photo gallery at www.snwa.com and peruse previous winners. You might find yours measures up to many of those winners. It's also a good site to seek inspiration if you are planning to redo your landscape.
Meanwhile, here are a few questions I dealt with this week.
Question: When do I thin my tree fruit?
Answer: Now. The more space between each fruit, the larger it will be. Thinning allows the remaining fruit to receive more food to grow larger. If you don't thin your fruit, you might experience limb breakage during high winds.
For apples and pears, keep one fruit per cluster. With peaches and nectarines, space the fruit 4 to 6 inches apart. With plums and apricots, give limbs a good shaking, and the poorer fruit will fall off, then thin out the remaining clusters.
Thinning is hard to do because each fruit becomes so dear to you. Here's how to overcome this dilemma: Have a friend thin them to the desired spacing while you are out of town and discard all thinnings. If you see piles of fruit on the ground, you might have a heart attack. But at harvest time you'll thank the person.
Q: Do I I use decomposed granite as a ground covering?
A: No doubt in my mind, decomposed granite is the best option for mulch, especially in a xeriscape landscape. Because of its density and ability to reflect light, it is perfect for our desert environment.
I love it for two more reasons: I can walk on it with my bare feet, and it is easy to keep plant debris cleaned up.
Q: Will I destroy my asparagus fern if I divide it?
A: Pop the fern out of the container and expect to see masses of roots. Using a saw, cut it into sections and repot. Keep it protected in a cool place until it becomes reestablished.
PLANTS HELPING OTHER PLANTS
Let Master Gardener Richard Cutbirth teach you how to use companion planting of vegetables and fruits to maximize your yields at 7 p.m. Thursday at 8050 S. Paradise Road.
GARDENING IN SMALL PLACES
If you are having trouble growing gardens in small spaces, let Master Gardener Jeanne Toscano show you how to solve your problems at 9 a.m. Saturday at Acacia Park, 50 Casa Del Fuego in Henderson.
Linn Mills' garden column appears on Sundays. He can be reached at email@example.com or (702) 822-7754.