Got a water-smart yard? Enter this contest

For the past 14 years, the Southern Nevada Water Authority has celebrated innovative and water-efficient landscape designs through its Landscape Awards Competition. Homeowners, landscape architects, landscape contractors and the like have earned awards for their efforts to help promote water conservation through designing and creating landscapes that are colorfully spectacular.

Applications for this year’s free competition will be accepted through May 10 and are available at, along with award criteria, categories and other information, or call 702-258-7283.

Judging takes place May 20; winners will receive their awards at a ceremony June 20.

To mark the awards’ 15th anniversary, the authority has teamed with TPC Summerlin, Star Nursery, Ewing Irrigation, Siena Golf Club and Bear’s Best Golf Club to sponsor prizes, including gift cards and rounds of golf, to be presented to this year’s winners.

These program partners also honor contestants through specialized awards. The Star Nursery Color Award will recognize a professional and homeowner who display the best layout, variety of plants, theme and overall colorfulness. Professional contestants who demonstrate exceptional water-smart designs will be eligible for other awards presented by the Nevada chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Southern Nevada Landscape Association and the Linn Mills Award.

This year’s awards also will feature new judging criteria, which will award points based on project creativity, overall design, technical merit and planting.

Categories include single-family landscape design by both the homeowner and a professional; multifamily/homeowners association landscape design by a professional; and commercial, institutional or municipal design by professionals.

New this year, awards also will be presented for special projects, including:

■ Yard warrior: Landscapes designed, installed and maintained by the homeowner.

■ Production gardens: Landscapes with a primary focus of producing vegetables, fruits, herbs or any other edible plant.

■ Wildlife habitat: Landscapes created to provide food, water, cover and a place for wildlife to raise their young.

■ Environmental stewardship: Landscapes that demonstrate a commitment to managing water, wildlife, vegetation, air or soil.

Entrants must have a working irrigation system appropriate to their design. Properly irrigated water-efficient landscapes, even those with a high volume of water-efficient plant life, can use up to 75 percent less water than traditional lawns.

Here are questions I got this week:

Q: What is the sticky milky stuff on my rosemary plants?

A: They are spittlebugs and won’t damage your plants. You can wash them off with a strong jet of water but they are food for birds. If they really bother you, spray them with an organic product called neem. Put a squirt of dish detergent in the solution to help break down the sticky substance on the bugs.

Q: I have a 2-year-old “flying saucer” cactus (Trichocereus) with 40 blooms on it. Do I need to remove some blooms so I don’t stunt it?

A: Oh my gosh! Leave them all on and enjoy the amazing show! These flowers are the diameter of dinner plates.

Q: Why are my radishes all tops and no bottoms?

A: If they were planted too thick, there was no room to develop bulbs. Always plant them at the proper spacing so they have room to swell. Or you may have overfertilized them with nitrogen. It doesn’t take much nitrogen to grow radishes.

Q: Why are my Early Girl tomato leaves a pale green compared to my rich green Patio tomato leaves?

A: It sounds as if your Early Girl tomatoes are suffering for nitrogen. However, Early Girl vines are normally lighter green than Patio tomatoes.

Q: My pine tree is not as green as my neighbor’s. How can I green it up?

A: You didn’t say what kind of pine it is. Mondel pines are greener than Aleppo pines. Add some nitrogen and iron to meet your standards.

Q: Do dwarf trees have any special advantages over standard fruit trees?

A: You can expect full-sized fruit but on smaller attractive trees. These trees produce roughly the same amount of fruit — sometimes more — for the amount of space they occupy compared with standard trees at a younger age. Pruning, spraying and harvesting are easier, because you will not need a ladder or special equipment.

Linn Mills’ garden column appears on Sundays. You can reached him at or call him
at 702-526-1495.

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