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Tuesday - October 06, 2009

From: Las Cruces, NM
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Trees
Title: Trees for a new home in Las Cruces, NM
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I've just purchased a brand new home in a sub-division in Las Cruces, NM and I'm looking for some landscaping advice. I come from upper-central Illinois, so I'm used to having trees pretty much all over the place, and I'd like to add a few to my new residence. My yard, however, is fairly small. I'd like to find some trees that grow from up to one or two stories and stay narrow. I also have a finished rock wall all the way around the property, so a smaller root system would be best, if possible. I've seen a few very tall and pencil thin trees in this area, and really like the way they look. Any advice?


At the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, we are committed to the care, propagation and protection of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which they are being grown. Native plants need less water, fertilizer and maintenance, and are adapted by eons of experience to the soil, climate and rainfall where they are growing. You are definitely making a large change in the environment in which you live, and we can sympathize with your wish to emulate what you had before. Unfortunately, even if you could find locally some of the types of trees you are thinking of, you would probably struggle just to get them planted, and they could still die. In addition, the type of tree you are describing probably is pretty unstable, not having the root system to support it in a high wind or storm.

Happily there are several lovely trees that will thrive in your area of USDA Hardiness Zones 7b to 8, with average annual minimum temperatures of 5 to 15 deg. F. We will go to Recommended Species, click on New Mexico on the map, and select for "trees" under General Appearance. Each one we like, we will check to make sure it grows in the vicinity of Dona Ana County, so we know it tolerates the weather and soils between the Mexican border and the mountains.  You can use the same procedure to look over the other possibilities or to select herbaceous blooming plants, shrubs, grasses or vines that will also work in your garden. Follow each plant link to the page on that individual plant to learn its projected size, light requirements, soil moisture requirements, bloom time and so forth. 

Trees for Las Cruces NM:

Chilopsis linearis (desert willow) - 15 to 30 ft., deciduous, blooms white, pink, purple April to September, low water use, sun

Fraxinus greggii (Gregg's ash) - to 20 ft. tall, low water use, part shade

Fraxinus velutina (velvet ash) - to 40 ft., deciduous, low water use, sun

Juglans major (Arizona walnut) - to 48 ft., deciduous, medium water use, sun or part shade

Pinus edulis (twoneedle pinyon) - 10 to 30 ft. tall, evergreen, low water use, part shade

Prosopis glandulosa (honey mesquite) to 30 ft. tall, deciduous, blooms yellow February to September, low water use, sun

Robinia neomexicana (New Mexico locust) - shrub to 20 ft. tall, thorny, blooms red April to August, medium water use, part shade

Ungnadia speciosa (Mexican buckeye) - 8 to 30 ft. tall,deciduous, blooms pink March to June, low water use, sun or part shade

From our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Chilopsis linearis

Fraxinus greggii

Fraxinus velutina

Juglans major

Pinus edulis

Prosopis glandulosa

Robinia neomexicana

Ungnadia speciosa



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