Gardening tips for low-water California Friendly Yards:
It all starts with good design – pick the plants carefully based on your soil and amount sunlight, and give them enough space to grow to maturity
- Group plants with the similar water requirements near each other
- Give your plants infrequent deep waterings, versus more frequent but shallow watering. Using drip irrigation is the best way to apply water by giving the water slowly directly to the plants. These methods use up only a fraction of the water put out by sprinklers, which waste as much as 50% water to evaporation, wind and missing their targets.
- Maintain healthy soil by amending it with compost and/or organic fertilizer retains water better, drains easier, and provides additional nutrients naturally. Healthy soils also promote hearty plants better able to withstand drought or disease by setting deeper roots.
- Use Mulch such as straw, shredded leaves, your own garden clippings, or other types of store-bought (or even free from the city of LA!) organic mulches. These create texture in the landscape, and as they decay they add nutrients to the soil (similar to the natural process found on a forest floor). Properly mulching a garden also lowers the soil temperature, decreases the loss of moisture due to evaporation, and helps discourage weeds.
- Irrigation –It’s possible to design a landscape to minimize the need for regular supplemental watering once it is established. Weigh your priorities (economic, environmental, and personal) and consider landscape designs and plant choices that eliminate the need for an automatic, in-ground irrigation system. If you have an existing sprinkler system (which can lose approximately 50% efficiency by spraying onto hardscape, evaporation, and wind) it can be switched to Drip-line Irrigation which is far more water efficient by dripping water slowly directly to the plants in your garden. The irrigation control system choice is important too – the most efficient controllers automatically adjust to changing water needs such as the weather.
- Rainwise Landscaping – Our properties’ landscapes influence water habitat in the LA River, local creeks, and the Pacific Ocean in multiple ways. Hard surfaces shed water allowing toxic substances (oil, chewing gum, animal waste, cigarette butts – yuck!) to leach into our water, even from landscapes miles from the nearest water body. Our rain storms often cause flooding, and can overwhelm parts of our storm water management system. Luckily, there are ways to reduce or avoid these problems altogether! Various landscaping techniques help capture, cleanse, and allow rainwater to filter into the soil on site. These include rain gardens, pervious paving and pathways, downspout dispersion, rain barrels, and proper soil preparation with compost & mulching. Handling rainwater on site reduces the strain on our stormwater management systems, and can reduce your yard’s need for extra potable irrigation water by keeping it on site when the skies do bless us!
Environmentally friendly hardscape materials accents includes surfaces that are easy to clean with a broom or brush (no hosing them down!), and avoiding materials that require repainting or chemical treatment. Selecting naturally rot-resistant and durable materials in the first place makes for easier and more affordable maintenance down the road. Options include decomposed granite, pavers with gaps in-between, gravel, and recycled bricks.