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Contest honors best of water-efficient landscapes

If you or your landscaper created a beautiful water-efficient landscape and you want to show it off, consider entering it in the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s annual landscape awards contest.

Applications for this free communitywide contest, along with criteria, categories and other information are available at snwa.com through April 29 or call 258-7283 for an application.

Each year, the SNWA seeks out water-efficient landscapes installed by homeowners and landscape professionals that are both attractive and functional. Properly irrigated water-efficient landscapes can use up to 75 percent less water than traditional lawns.

The SNWA developed the awards to show how water-efficient landscapes are far more than rocks and a handful of cactuses. Enter your landscape to help spread the word that water-smart living has a style all its own.

A panel comprised of landscape experts, irrigation professionals, horticulturists and gardening experts judges the entries. These judges are looking at four criteria: aesthetics, irrigation system, plant selection and mulch.

Browse through the photo gallery of past winners at www.snwa.com to compare their lawns with yours. You’ll also find helpful tips to help you win an award.

The landscape award program’s partners also honor contestants through specialized awards. This year, the Star Nursery Color Award will recognize a professional and homeowner who display the best layout, variety of plants, and for its overall color. The Nevada Chapter of American Society of Landscape Architects, the Nevada Landscape Association, and I will honor professional contestants who demonstrate exceptional water-smart designs for those entering the contest.

SPRING IRIS SHOW

The Las Vegas Iris Society is having its annual spring flower show from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today at the Nevada Garden Club Center, 3333 W. Washington Blvd. in Lorenzi Park. Come see examples of what very well could be blooming in your yard next spring if you decide to purchase some.

When coming to the iris show, you’re going to see varieties you’ll love and want. Jot down their names, and, in July, you can purchase them at the society’s sale. It is a great way to start growing irises by starting with the best. Irises originated in a climate very much like ours, and are often known as the “orchids of the desert.”

Iris gets its name from Iris, the goddess of the rainbow. You’ll find every color under the rainbow, except true red. Iris lovers are always hybridizing, hoping to be the first to find true red. Who knows, a Las Vegan might find it at the end of the rainbow.

If you have irises of your own, remove flowering stalks as flowers fade. If flower production is down, dig up the old rhizomes in July. Break the new rhizomes off the old withered ones and discard them. Trim leaves back to 6-inches of growth. Using a felt-tip pen, record the name of the variety on the leaves. Put “fans” as they are called, in a brown paper bag and store in a cool place, such as under your bed.

You’ll replant your new irises around Labor Day. It’s imperative that they be well established before Jack Frost arrives. Irises need at least a half-day of sun, preferably morning sun with some afternoon shade.

Irises thrive in well-drained soil with lots of organic matter, soil sulfur and a balanced fertilizer worked into the soil to stimulate new growth.

If you’re a novice, space irises 12 to 24 inches apart. Closer plantings will give an immediate effect, but expect to thin more often.

Dig a shallow trench to spread out roots, but position the rhizomes so it sits at soil level. Firm the soil around each rhizome and settle in with water.

New plants need moisture to get started, but once established, they are good water misers. Too much water can induce root rot.

For established irises, add a light application of bone meal or super phosphate now and a month after bloom for great blooms next year. Avoid using too much nitrogen, as it will produces too much top. Scratch fertilizer into the soil and water to move nutrients to the roots.

Keep your iris beds free of weeds and debris to allow rhizomes to bask in sun. During the growing season, groom them by removing dead leaves. Next winter, trim off old dying foliage.

Linn Mills writes a garden column each Sunday. You can reach him at linn.mills@ springspreserve.org or call him at 822-7754.

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