Posts Tagged water saving tips

Five Tips Water Saving Tips

This year we’ve had pretty bad drought conditions here in Southern California.  In fact, we’ve had drought conditions for a few years now.  This means we want to get the most out of every single drop of water we use. Here are five water saving tips for your yard:

Tip #1: Water your yard in the early morning – preferably right before the sun comes up and the heat of the day begins.  This will give the water a chance to sink into the ground and won’t flood your lawn all night long.  A great way to do this for any night owls out there – or just people who don’t want to wake up before dawn – is to set your sprinkler system on a timer.  Rich Soil

Tip #2: Keep composting.  There are a lot of great ways to compost.  You can use mulch from your compost pile, you can buy compost, and you can leave the grass on  your lawn as you mow.  These will all help the health of your soil and allow it to retain water better.

Tip #3: If you’re planting in a container, choose what you use carefully.  A metal container will heat up quickly and make water evaporate faster.  An unglazed clay pot is porous and will cause moisture loss through the clay itself.  One way to combat this problem in pots is to find a good, rich soil that will hold moisture.  Cactus Garden Window

Tip #4: Plant California natives, succulents, and cactus instead of their water-guzzling friends and neighbors.  I just wrote a recent blog post about designing a drought-tolerant yard.

Tip #5: Consult with a landscaper.  One of the best ways to utilize water properly in your yard is to design it in such a way that no water goes to waste.  Get in touch with your local landscaper about how to best design your space so it’s both water-efficient and your dream yard.  It can actually help you save money in the long run.

Here’s to some rain!!!

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Designing a Drought Tolerant Yard

This time of year is usually filled with chilly weather and rainfall, but so far it has been dry and warm here in Southern California.  This may lead to some strict rules regarding watering ever-thirsty lawns.  So, instead of adding to the problem, here are some ideas for a drought tolerant and beautiful yard:

Go native:  Penstemon Husker's Red

We have so many wonderful native plants here in Southern California – and because they are native they are perfectly suited to our weather.   Some really wonderful plants are: Baby Blue Eyes, Black-Eyed Susan, Buckeye, California lilac, California poppy (our state flower), Calliopsis, Chaparral, Desert Evening Primrose, Fir, Fried-Egg Flower, Godetia, Hollyhock, Hummingbird Trumpet, Joshua Tree, Lavender, Penstemon, Ribbon bush, Sea Pink, and Sedum.

Plants that are used to our climate and the cyclic droughts we have can survive better with less water than plants from areas that get a lot of water.

Plant succulents: Stonecrop

Succulents and cactus are a natural fit for our desert-y climate. They hold in water for a long time and can survive in hot, dry weather.  Some great cactus plants and succulents for the yard are: Agave, Aloes, Bunny Ear Cactus, Campfire Crassula, Desert Rose, Golden Barrel Cactus, Hens-and-Chicks, Macho Moca Mangave, Star Cacti, and Zwartkop.

Utilize artistic arrangements: iStock_000010193902XSmall

Don’t just use plants to decorate your yard. Try out gorgeous rocks, arrange outdoor art pieces, or set up a dry fountain and plant it with succulents. There are such a huge variety of stone, brick, cement, and even metal materials you can use to make your yard look amazing without having to water it.

Even if you don’t go grass free, you can find many water saving tips and suggestions here.  Here’s to some rainfall this year!

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Ten Tips for Saving Water in your Yard

It’s easy to spend a ton of money on watering grass and other plants here in Southern California.  Places like Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, and Northridge can experience extreme heat that can turn your grass yellow and dormant.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, except that it looks bad.  If you dislike spending extreme amounts on water, or you just don’t like how your lawn looks in the summertime, consider these ten water saving tips:

1.  Try planting native grasses.  While these won’t look the same as your current lawn-type grass, they use up less water and can look really beautiful.

2. Install pavers with dymondia margaretae or some such grass growing between them.  This will give you the grassy look without the maintenance.

3. Considering changing your yard out to include California natives. Some great native ground covers are: Pacific Mist, Carmel Sur, Monterey Carpet, Ceanothus Gloriosus, California Lilac, Ceanothus Hearstiorum, Squaw Carpet, Silver Carpet, Tufted Hairgrass, Cape Sebastian, Wood Straberry, Mountain Strawberry, Penstemon Heterodoxus, Salvia,  Yerba Buena, and Gaultheria Shallon.

4. Instead of using flower borders, plant bright succulents.  These are beautiful and water resistant plants that don’t need much water.  Some lovely succulents are: Spiral aloe, Afterglow, a variety of Agaves, or Ice Plant, Stonecrop

5. If you don’t want to change your yard up at all, consider mulching your plants.  Mulch can help the soil retain water and provide nutrients to your plants.

6. Install sprinklers or a drip irrigation system.  It’s easy to accidentally water your sidewalk or miss spots when you are watering by hand.  Additionally, having a programmed system will help you water earlier in the morning – before the heat of the day.

7.  Make sure your plants have healthy soil.  Years and years of the same plant living in the same soil can cause the plant to die faster, as the nutrients are leached from the soil.  Get your soil tested to find out exactly want needs to be done to make it the optimal place for your plants to live.

8. Looking for a good garden accent that won’t take up too much water?  Consider planting a citrus tree or a deep rooted tree.  Such trees actually prefer to be watered only once a week or so once they are well-established.  Do consider, however, that you should generally wait until the weather gets cooler to make such an improvement to your yard – and it will take about a year for the tree to properly establish its root system.  This is a longer-term fix.

9. If you want a lawn that looks great year round and doesn’t need watering – consider installing a faux lawn.  Your grass will be green all the time.  The only downsides are that it’s a rather expensive fix and your grass will not get cool.

10. Consider watering less often, but more deeply. Running a sprinkler in the wee hours only a couple of days a week for a longer time period will tend to drive water deeply into the soil where it won’t evaporate easily.

There are a ton of fixes for your water bill.  Some may include changing your yard’s look – and this may be for the better.  If you want to go this route, consider talking to a professional landscaper for assistance.

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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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Make those roots go deep

If your lawn dries out easily, it’s a good idea to check out the idea of forcing the roots of your grass to explore deeper soil.

How does one do this, though, when it’s so hot outside? You don’t want to kill your lawn.

Here’s a thought: deep water your lawn instead of your normal light watering, but do it less frequently, allowing the soil on top to dry out a bit between watering. The roots of your grass (and any other plants you happen to be growing) will explore deeper soil for water.

Additionally, water in early morning so the water actually trickles into the soil, and doesn’t just evaporate.

Creating deep-rooted plants is helpful in a few ways:
1. It’s a water saving tip which could help you out when you get your water bill.

2. Your plants will reap the benefit of richer, nutrition-laced soil it has not explored before. This, plus fertilizing the top of your soil will give you happier and prettier plants.

3. Deep-rooted plants tend to be healthier, which means they are less likely to become a fire hazard or ravaged by bugs. Additionally, if you are living on a slope, it’s vital your plants become deep-rooted before the season of flash flooding we like to call Fall/Winter.

So, here’s to healthy lawns and plants, low water bills and green, green days ahead.

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Glorious lawns and flowers over spring and summer

Spring is almost here, and that means summer is right around the corner.

So, how do we keep our lawns and flowers beautiful in these upcoming hot, dry months?

1. Make sure your sprinklers are set up to maximize your water usage. I’ve talked about this in earlier posts. Check out this link for additional water saving tips.

2. Feed your lawn. Much like Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors, you two must feed your plants. Feed your lawn every four to six weeks and check with your garden supply store or your landscaper for the best fertilizer to use on your plants.

3. Cover up bare spots. Don’t leave soil to harden and bake in the sun. Cover the soil with compost or wood chips – another option is planting something which will last in a hot and dry climate like a succulent.

4. Consider going native. Check out the water saving abilities of a native Southern Californian landscape. You might be surprised with how beautiful and easy such a landscape can be.

5. Use all that compost. Have you been following the latest and greatest in gardening trends – composting? Use it to feed your plants and protect their roots from the water-leaching sun.

6. Make sure your plants have a well-balanced meal. Ensure the compost/fertilizer you use will be the best for your plants and the bugs and the bugs which support it. If your fertilizer is lacking in vitamins, like B1, try feeding it directly into the root system. Additionally, ensure your fertilizer won’t kill off the good bugs which are helping your plants thrive – like worms and bees. This may mean you have to go organic or use a different form of pest control like oil on trees and such.

Here’s hoping your garden, lawns and landscapes thrive during the hottest and dryest parts of the year!

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Dealing with Crazy Weather

The last week of “summer weather” here in Los Angeles has been extremely strange and unseasonal.  Odd weather patterns are never good for plants, but there is a way to keep your plants relatively happy, even when the day goes from overcast to scorching hot in a matter of hours.

Plants like consistency, so inconsistent weather can throw them off and make it harder for them to grow normally.  So, keeping all other factors of their lives consistent is extremely helpful in maintaining beautiful landscaping. 

If you have sprinklers that you reprogram for the various times of year, consider obtaining a controller which has a mini weather station attached.  One of these devices can ensure you only water your yard when it’s needed.  There’s one version of this which is basically a rain override switch that can be installed pretty easily on some sprinkler controls.

These sprinkler controls keep your plants happy and watered.  This allows them to grow in the expected manner – even while the weather is being fussy.

Because water can be hard to come by, check out these water saving tips for more information on how to keep your yard healthy and happy – while keeping your wallet heavy.

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