California is facing one of the most severe droughts on record. Help do your part in conserving water in the garden. Here are a few tips that can help you start:
1. Less is More – More damage is caused to our plants and grass from over-watering than from under-watering. No lawn ever needs daily watering; at most, a warm-season grass needs watering only three days a week during the summer. When setting up your schedules be conservative to start and add more time when plants begin to look stressed. Avoid the heat of the day and water in the early morning or late evening. Turn off irrigation in the winter when grasses go dormant. Ensure that water is not wasted by running off into the street or causing soil erosion from poorly planted landscapes.
2. Grass Height – Set your mower to one of the highest settings. There are several reasons not to cut your grass too short:
- Keeping grass longer allows it greater surface area to carry out photosynthesis, which in turn results in healthier plants. In addition, taller grass grows slower than shorter grass. You can use this fact to eliminate up to 20 percent of the mowing you do annually—an average savings of about eight hours a year, not to mention the savings of gasoline and wear on equipment.
- By keeping your grass at the upper end of its recommended mowing height, you can prevent most weeds from germinating—and thereby eliminate the need for herbicides.
3. Take Control – Weather-based irrigation controllers (wbic) are a great way to automate seasonal irrigation adjustments. Rebates for these devices may be available through your water retailer.
4. Fall Irrigation – In the Los Angeles coastal ares, September through November, temperatures may still be relatively hot and your plants may seem to require similar watering patterns to the summer. However, keep in mind that as the days become shorter, evaporation decreases and plants’ water needs drop by approximately 50%.
5. Improve your soil.- Routinely cultivate your soil, incorporating organic matter such as compost. Doing so improves the soil’s ability to resist evaporation and retain moisture. Aerate heavy or compacted soil around trees.
6. Mulch. A two- to four-inch layer of mulch also evens out temperature extremes, keep soil cool on hot days and warm on cool days. It also prevents soil from crusting, allowing better water penetration. Take a cue from nature and choose one of many organic mulches that add great visual texture to your landscape, such as shredded bark or chips, wood grindings, compost, aged sawdust or even low-growing ground cover. Inorganic mulches, such as gravel or rock, let the most water in and are frequently used with plants susceptible to crown rot.