Pecan trees are native to the Southeast and Midwest, but they can grow well and produce large quantities of nutritious nuts in an Arizona yard if they are planted in soil with good drainage and given plenty of water. An added benefit to having pecan trees is that they grow tall and wide enough to provide shade. The trees do not produce nuts until three to four years after they are planted. Because of their heavy water consumption, pecan trees do not fit in with a low water usage landscape plan. In ideal conditions, pecan trees can produce nuts for more than a century, and reach heights in excess of 100 feet.
Decide on bare root or container trees. Bare root pecan trees are planted in late winter, January through March. They should be planted at least 30 days before the date when buds appear on fruit trees in your area. This allows the roots to get established and acclimated to the soil. Trees purchased in containers are planted when the worst of the summer heat has passed, September through October.
Prepare the soil. Inadequate drainage will prevent the tree from developing a healthy root system--or even cause it to die. Test how fast the soil drains. Dig a hole 2 to 3 feet down at the planting site and fill it with water. Adequate soil drains in one to two days. Slow drainage can be caused by a layer of hardened calcium carbonate, called caliche. Break through the layer with a pick axe or jackhammer, going down to 5 feet.
Plant the tree. Remove enough soil so there is room to plant the tree to depth of the soil line in its container, indicated by the line between the trunk and roots where the bark changes color. Don't add fertilizer when planting the tree. Refill the hole with the soil you removed. Water the tree to push air out of the soil and improve contact between the soil and tree roots.
Install an irrigation system. Build a basin 2 to 3 feet beyond the drip line, the area beneath the widest part of the tree's canopy. Bring irrigation tubing and a bubbler-type emitter to the edge of the basin, so the tree can be watered deeply and widely enough to reach the outer roots.