Posts Tagged water conservation

Going Lawnless

Wide grass lawns aren’t really native to Southern California, and are often water suckers.  One way to solve water issues landscaped gardeninevitable to a lawn is to remove your lawn and do something else with the space.  Here are a variety of ideas and tips for “going lawnless:”

1.  Plant up with natives instead of grass.  Once your natives are established, you won’t have to water them nearly as much as you watered your lawn.  Some lovely natives are:  Lewisia, Penstemon, Thrift, Yarrow, Apricot mallow, Checkerbloom, Blue-eyed grass, Iris, Monkey flower, Lilac, Bearded tongue, Beach aster, Snowberry, and more.

2. Install and enjoy hardscaping.  Hardscapes can be filled with natural beauty by utilizing pots or borders, and it’s very easy to maintain.  Not only that, handscapes make great gathering places for friends, family, barbecues, and more.

3. Make your space a veggy patch or herb garden.  Growing your own food is rewarding and can be really fun for the young ones!

4. Install a waterscape.  Adding a pond or fountain can make your backyard feel like a haven of natural beauty instead of a flat, green, water-sucking expanse.  Water features can block traffic noise, and they can get you off the hook for getting your kid a pet (by filling a pond with fish or some such animal).

5. Plant an orchard.  You may not think you can make your yard into a shady haven of natural beauty, but you can.  Planting and establishing trees can take a lot of water, but they give a great reward and last for a very long time.Rake Chips

6. Take some time to repair your soil with mulch over winter, then try planting some of your favorites.  You can make your yard into a gorgeous place for butterflies, birds, and more by smothering your lawn over winter and planting something completely different in spring.

Here’s to the perfect yard for your needs!

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Water Conservation Questions

We want our plants to look beautiful and produce gorgeous flowers, or delicious fruits or vegetables.  Water is a key ingredient to making this happen.  But sometimes, we get advice that seems impractical or hard to follow.  Here is a little Q&A that hopefully will answer some of those questions:

Q: How do I tell how many inches of water my yard is getting?

A: It’s a bit of a math trick, but here’s a good way to calculate how many inches of water your yard gets:

-Multiply the number of inches of water you are supposed to provide to your yard by .6.  This will give you the number of gallons per square foot you will need to provide.

– Multiply the above number by the square footage of your garden. This will tell you how many gallons your whole garden will need.

– Water systems have inefficiencies.  To compensate for them, divide the gallons needed by .85 for drip or .7 for sprinklers.

Find out how many gallons of water your system provides per minute, and you will be able to calculate how long it will take to provide your yard with the inches of water it needs.

Q: When is the best time to water my plants and lawn?

A: Water your plants in the morning.  Midday watering causes the water to evaporate.  Watering at the evening can be done if you have a drip system.  If water gets on the leaves, fungus can be encouraged to grow.

Q: I have patches under my trees where nothing ever grows.  Should I leave the exposed dirt alone, or can I do something to prevent evaporation?

A: Open ground often allows water to evaporate before it has a chance to sink in – even under trees.  A good solution for this is planting shade friendly plants, planing along the dripline of your tree, and covering any exposed ground with mulch to keep the water in and the soil nutritious.  However, do make sure to keep the mulch off of the tree trunk.

These are some tips and ideas.  We’ll continue on in a future post.  Here’s to happy and nutritious plants!

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Planning for Drought

Southern California is known for its drought situations.  Often, we have to conserve our water usage and be frugal with our plants.  This can negatively affect your yard unless you prepare for it.  Here are some ideas which can give you a lovely yard, which will still be ok during a drought.

1. Plant ornamental grasses, succulents, and other plants which are drought tolerant.  This will reduce watering needs in the long run.

2. Choose native plants.  Natives are specifically designed to thrive in the Southern California environment – they are from there after all!

3. Put water trays under your potted plants.  Keeping a tray of water beneath your potted plants doesn’t detract from their looks – and it keeps the plant hydrated.

4. Put your plants on a schedule.  Keeping to a specific watering schedule will cause your plants to know how to react to drought situations.  If you’ve already trained them to dig deep for water, they won’t have as much trouble when it’s hot and dry out.

5. Utilize your hardscape.  If you like to have gatherings, consider hardscaping over that hard to maintain lawn.  You can add potted plants for greenery, and you won’t be damaging plants each time you meet with your friends and family.

Here’s to a green, hot summer!

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Conserving Water in Summer

A big problem in Southern California is conserving water, but still keeping up your nice, green lawn, or keeping your flowers alive.  Here are a couple of ideas which can help you either create a landscape which uses minimal water, or keep your landscape and conserve your water as much as possible:

– Go native.  Southern California has many drought tolerant native plants.  Some great flowers and plants which are drought tolerant are: various lupines, ceanthos, sage, manzanitas.  Some specific flowers and grasses that are drought resistant California natives are: woolly blue curls, desert needle grass, purple needle grass, northern california manzanita, jojoba, southern monkey flower, creeping sage, musk sage, white sage, compact white sage, butterfly mint bush, wishbone bush, and tons more.  Just remember, you will have to get them established, so you have to make sure to water them enough to get their roots stretched out during the first year you plant them.

Another great reason to go native is native plants attract birds and butterflies to your area.  A fun idea is to find out what the favorite flowers and plants of your local butterflies and birds are, plant them, and have a beautiful yard which will entertain and delight both you and your local fauna.

–  If you have a lovely lawn and you’d like to keep it, try this water saving trick.  Set your sprinklers to water less often, but deeper.  You can do this by scheduling your sprinklers to run only a couple of times a week – but schedule them to run longer and give your grass a good drink.  You may need to schedule short blasts of sprinkler time in between during those really hot summer days, but in general this should help you conserve water usage.

Additionally, make sure to schedule your sprinklers to go off early in the morning, so the water can sit and soak in before the sun comes up.  Just don’t set them for the evening as – if the water sits for too long – it can cause algae growth.

– Measure your run-off and reevaluate your slope.  When you turn on your sprinklers, the ideal situation is that all the water you spray on your lawn will seep deep into the ground and be taken up by the roots of your plants to make them more lush and gorgeous.  This is rarely what happens in reality.  In reality, there is usually run-off.  However, there are times when things like broken sprinklers, poorly positioned sprinklers, or extremely steep slope can cause extreme run off and even take some of your soil with it.   So, take the time to wake up before your sprinklers are done doing their thing and check out how much water is running off of your lawn.  If it’s a lot of water, it may be an issue with the sprinkler itself (we’ve all seen that broken sprinkler that waters the concrete sidewalk instead of the poor, neglected grass), or it may be a more serious issue with the position of your sprinklers themselves or the slope of your land.  If it’s one of the last two situations, consult with a local landscaper to see what can be done.

– Install hardscaping or even a fake lawn.  Depending on your lifestyle, hardscaping may be a fun and effective solution to water conservation.  Another option for those who don’t want to have to deal with sprinklers is a fake lawn.  The upsides to both options is they can look beautiful year round, you don’t have to do much more than keep them clean, and they can usually take more abuse than a living plant.  The downsides are they are usually expensive to install, they aren’t soft and cool like grass (fake grass tends to stay warm when it’s warm out), and they don’t create more breathable air by producing oxygen.

These are just some options for water conservation.  There are many, many more.

Here’s to a year of great weather and low water bills (cross your fingers).

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New Years Resolutions

Each year, all around the US, we make home improvement resolutions.  This coming year, here are some fun landscaping ideas:

– Create a natural habitat for local butterflies and/or birds.  Add bushes, bright and nice-smelling flowers, bird baths, trees, and bird houses.

– Add natural plants to your landscape.  If you aren’t too attached to you lawn, try out some natural landscaping with local plants.  You’ll be surprised what beautiful birds and insects you will attract.

Install landscape lighting.  Some ideas for this are track lighting along your walk ways, LED lights in the trees, lamps, etc.

– Try out a vegetable garden.  A vegetable garden certainly does not have to be traditional.  You can do a traditional English herb garden, or even plant fruit trees and shrubs.

– Install a sprinkler system.  This is a great way to conserve your water useage.

– Add a waterscape.  You don’t have to install a full-fledged pool to enjoy the cool sound of running water in your yard.   You can install a pond, waterfall, foutain, or a non-traditional waterscape.

– Get inspired. Throughout the year, visit local parks and gardens and see what they do in the off-season to keep their spaces looking gorgeous.

Here’s to a very happy holiday – and a wonderful New Year!

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