Glossary of California-Friendly Yard Terms

Glossary of Terms for low-water California Friendly Yards:

Adapted PlantsPlants that reliably grow well in a given habitat with minimal attention from humans in the form of winter protection, pest protection, water irrigation, or fertilizer once root systems are established in the soil. Adapted plants are considered to be low maintenance and not invasive.

Aerate – Loosening or puncturing the soil to increase water penetration.  Can even be done by walking around you garden in golf shoes!  A good idea to do periodically.

Berm – A decorate feature used to create height and variation in a garden by building a soil mound to plant on.

“Cash for Grass” – The current utility company incentive program to

Compost – An organic soil amendment resulting from the decomposition of organic matter.  Can be done on-site using a compost bin where food scraps (nut shells, coffee grounds, egg shells, fruit & vege scraps, etc) and garden waste are mixed together with water.

Compost Tea –  Use compost tea are: give back microbial life & soluble nutrients into the soil or onto the foliage of plants to feed organisms and plants.  It is recommended whenever the organisms in the soil or on the plants are not at optimum levels because chemical-based pesticides, fumigants, herbicides and some synthetic fertilizers kill a range of those beneficial micro-organisms (kind of why you would eat yogurt or pro-biotics for your belly!).

Drip-line irrigation – A more efficient way to water that slowly & deeply drips water directly to the roots of the plant using a planned distribution system, as opposed to sprinklers which randomly spray water losing up to 50% efficiency.

Ground Cover – Plants that quickly spread usually used to cover bare earth and create a uniform appearance.  This is useful in large more hidden areas, hillsides or sloped areas, and parkways.

“Lasagna” or Sheet Mulching – A method used to enrich dead, compacted soil when there is time to prep for healthy soil before the plants are put in.   It involves layering newspaper/cardboard, leaves/clippings, compost, and water (winter rains are a great time to do it to prep for spring planting!) and letting it ‘bake’ decompose in place.  Patience is key, but instead of laboriously pulling out & disposing of turf, this will smother it and allow it to decompose in place.

Native Plants – A plant that occurs and grows naturally in a specific region or locality which is beneficial in using the average amount of local rainfall, attracting local pollinators & insects, and needs less or no fertilizers or soil amendments since its used to local conditions

Mulch – Any loose material placed over the soil to control weeds, and conserve soil moisture. Usually this is a coarse organic matter, such as leaves, clippings or bark, but plastic sheeting and other commercial products can also be used (although are not advisable).

Pervious hardscape – non-solid surfaces which allow rainwater to sink into your garden in strategic areas (of course away from your home’s foundation!) where it can be retained for plants & to help replenish the groundwater table, as well as keep some water from overwhelming the urban stormwater infrastructure.  Options include decomposed granite, brick or pavers with gaps between, permeable concrete, and gravel – all of which can be used as paths, accents or sitting areas

Rain Barrels – Local rainwater capturing systems used to save & store rainwater to be used for later outdoor use, to avoid it going into the urban stormwater runnoff system.

Rain Garden – a shallow depression that is planted with deep-rooted native plants and grasses. The garden should be positioned near a runoff source like a downspout, driveway or sump pump to capture rainwater runoff and stop the water from reaching the sewer & urban stormwater runoff system.

Smart Controller – an irrigation system which dynamically adjusts the watering schedule based on time of year and outdoor temperatures using various data sources including – historical data, offsite data, weather station, and moisture sensors.

Soil Moisture Sensors – a device typically used on larger properties such as farms, golf courses, and commercial building properties with extensive lawns, which turns on irrigation water on according to reading the moisture levels in the soil.

Transplanting – The process of digging up a plant and moving it to another location for aesthique reasons, and or to help appropriately group plants according to their watering needs.

Water Wise gardens – Gardens which strive to be appropriate to their respective climate regions where rainfall or water supply is limited.  Being wise with your water does not necessarily mean giving it up altogether, but instead using it at the right time, in the right place, and carefully thinking about how much water you really need to spend.

Xeriscapinga landscaping method developed especially for arid and semiarid climates that utilizes water-conserving techniques such as the use of drought-tolerant plants, mulch, and efficient irrigation.