Something that we crave a lot of this time of year in Phoenix, although it is still relatively cool for this time of year.
In my humble opinion trees are the answer, and lots of them, although having lots of trees also brings with it a lot of work with the summer monsoons rapidly approaching. Trees can get severely damaged in the high winds of the monsoons, many are blown over completely. I love the shade our trees provide, and begrudge the fact that I have to thin them out so much each summer, but they always grow back.
Our Mesquite trees are in the grass so they get way more water in the summer than they need, and as a result get much thicker and bushier than they should, and thus require lots of pruning to thin them out so that the wind blows through them, instead of taking ahold of them and blowing them over.
The object lessons here are firstly not to have mesquite trees growing in grass, and secondly not to have any grass! I was recently horrified to see that our water consumption DOUBLED the month we resumed irrigating our grass. I had not realized that we were using so much, and we tend to under water believe it or not. I am in a serious "green" dilemma over this believe me. If we were planning to stay here I would have the grass out in a jiffy, but because we aren't, it may have to stay I am afraid. We aren't in any situation to be undertaking any major landscaping at the mo, and besides, bermuda grass is a devil to remove by all accounts. Anyway, this weekend I can see that I will be pruning some trees, not something I am an expert at by any means, but I usually do an adequate job of it.
I have this beautiful vine growing on the north side of our house. It seems to have many names. I thought it was called "Queen's Wreath" according to my books, but I got a different vine under that name when I searched for it. Although I am not in any way a gardener that uses correct botanical names much, if at all, but for purposes of identification, the botanical name for this pretty vine is "Antigonon Leptopus." The northern exposure of the house is much too shady for it, and although I have provided a trellis for it to climb upon,
It much prefers the more more natural support of an agave that also gives it more sunlight. Very clever! In a week or so it will have a riot of pink flowers all over it and will look so pretty.
R spent a lot of time at the weekend constructing me a more permanant shade structure to save my poor fried veggie plants. He worked very hard, and it is great.
I need to buy a bit more shade cloth which I will then wire onto the chicken wire on top, leaving the front unsecured but weighted down so that I can lift it up for more sunlight if needed. I have also put in drip lines so I don't have to crawl underneath to water. So far even with the little shade netting I have it is working well. It was all made with stuff we already had so it didn't cost more than the shade netting.
Don't you just love the shady spots?!