Yard & Garden
Bernalillo County is home to about one-third of New Mexico's population. Most of these people live in the urban part of the county, though the East Mountains and the South Valley still maintain some rural character. The urban nature of the county is reflected in the educational programming, and kinds of assistance, that our Horticulture Program is able to offer.
We are available to speak to groups (civic, community, church, other) on various horticultural topics, and as always, are open to the public for information on home and landscape gardening, including plant selection, soil issues, pest and disease identification, vegetable and fruit production, and more. We also encourage the greens industry to use us for accurate problem diagnosis and control recommendations.
Frequently Asked Questions
Searchable FAQs may be found using the following links:
If you'd prefer to download and browse more than 70 frequently asked horticultural questions and answers, please click the link.
There are many small black spots on my Pinyon needles. What is it? How do I get rid of it?
Pinyon needle scale is infesting you tree. Scale insects are relatively immobile, protected by a hard or soft shellÂ, and pierce and suck their liquid meal from the plant. The good news about this pest is it is specific to pinyon trees. The infestation will not spread to other types of plants.
Pinyon needle scale has a well-understood life-cycle. This is a great help in managing the pest. The scale lay their cottony-white egg masses on the trunk and lower branches (also check the bottoms of branches) sometime in late winter. These eggs hatch into tiny yellow sausage-shaped crawlersÂ that make their way up into the branches and out to the tips where the new growth is. They settle down and become immobile black specks that you can barely see (early spring). They feed all summer and become fatter and fatter. By the fall, you can see them quite clearly as what look like little black beansÂ on the needles. They will overwinter in these protective hard casings and emerge in the late winter or early spring. The females crawl down the tree toward the trunk and the males are able to fly. They converge and mate and the females lay their cottony egg masses. The cycle continues.
When you notice the egg masses, take a pinch between your thumb and index finger and squeeze it. If the eggs end up as a yellowish sticky gross mess on your fingers, the eggs have not hatched. This is the perfect time to spray the egg masses off tree with a high-powered nozzle or take a broom or brush and remove the egg masses. Clean up anything that you spray or brush off the tree and dispose of it off-site (put in the garbage can). If you leave the egg masses on the ground, they will still hatch and possibly make their way on to your pinyon on tree. If you pinch the egg masses and they are dry and powdery, they have already hatched. At this point, you could spray the tree with a horticultural oil (to smother the crawlers) or an insecticidal soap. Once the crawlers reach the tips of the branches and settle down, they are very hard to kill due to their protective shell. Try to catch the scale before this point.
How do I prune my grape vines?
You should prune your grape vines, like roses, in the spring just a little before the expected last frost (mid- to late-March or early April). Like roses, they can be stimulated to grow by pruning and warm weather.
Pruning is the systematic removal of wood in a manner that will result in a strong vine and good crops of large clusters. Nothing influences grape production more than pruning. Excessive pruning produces vigorous vegetative growth and low yield, but clusters and berries will be large. Not enough pruning produces weak growth and an excessive fruit resulting in small clusters, small berries, and poor quality.
The objective of pruning is to develop a single strong shoot with several well-placed laterals to form a permanent framework. After young vines have been pruned at planting, they are not pruned again until the following spring. Just before growth begins the second year, select the strongest cane and tie it to a stake to form a straight trunk. Remove all other canes. From this point, training depends upon the system you select. Three of the most common are the head, cordon, and cane (four-arm Kniffin is one example of a cane system). Please see the following publications for diagrams and explanations of each pruning system.
Master Gardener Program
2013 Master Gardener Program is FULL!
Classes runs January-April, with volunteering through October each year. To apply for 2014, contact Cheryl Kent.
The Albuquerque Area Extension Master Gardeners program is a key component of our horticultural outreach! These volunteers are trained by us to provide science-based horticultural advice to the general public.
Master Gardeners engage the public through various projects -- from their Hotline to working with ARCA -- on garden projects, with many other volunteer opportunities in between. They also wrote and published a unique book called Down to Earth: A Gardener's Guide to the Albuquerque Area.
We live in a desert, but turfgrass is commonplace in our landscapes and parks. While turfgrass provides many benefits, if not properly cared for it can be a source of much water waste and pollution through overuse of pesticides and fertilizers. The Southwest Turfgrass Association provides valuable education about the latest research in turfgrass care and maintenance at a yearly conference held in the fall.
Trees & Arboriculture
Our area of largest concentration is arboriculture, or the care of the urban forest. In addition to tree-problem diagnostic services available to the general public and to commercial operators, we provide occasional public workshops on tree planting and pruning, and we are very involved in helping put on an annual tree care conference, Think Trees New Mexico. This regionally important conference features top-notch presenters and a very affordable fee.
Xeriscape/Low Water Use Landscaping
Recognizing that we do live in a desert environment, we are also very involved in supporting xeriscape landscaping. Xeriscape refers to landscaping with reduced, efficient irrigation. The keys to successful xeriscape include proper plant selection, good mulching, and efficient irrigation. In addition to providing advice in these areas, we support the Xeriscape Council of New Mexico's Water Conservation Conference.
- Xeriscape Plant List for Albuquerque
- Center for Landscape Water Conservation
- NMSU's Irrigation Management Propgram & Research Station
- Irrigation Association
- NMSU Climate Center
- New Mexico Office of the State Engineer
Our office receives many calls and samples concerning growing tomatoes, the issues and challenges surrounding their culture, and what to do with the harvested tomatoes. Learn more about common tomato issues, and the causes, with a link to a page discussing the issue and its resolution.
NMSU Plant Diagnostics
NMSU Plant Diagnostic Clinic is housed on the main campus in Las Cruces. The clinic is a full testing laboratory that helps professionals and homeowners learn more about their plants, gardens, landscape, parks, and agriculture production fields. Learn more!
Free App from NMSU: Southwest Plant Selector! For iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Desert Blooms: plant selector, how to videos & more
Southwest Yard & Garden: searchable archives