As the drought continues to heat up in California, water restrictions are getting tighter. Heavy fines for abusing water and threats of governors to restrict usage are coming our way.
What can I do to conserve water and help save my landscaping through the drought?
Here are some helpful tips:
Water Deeper and Less Often Through the Drought
Lawn and plantings roots will grow deeper in search for water and develop a healthier, hardier plant when you water less often. Fescue lawn varieties with names like Marathon and Medallion are hardy and can root 2-3 feet deep when encouraged to do so. It is important to water longer to get the water down deeper.
I want to water longer, but the water just runs off my property and down the drain. What should I do?
- Try “Session irrigation” where you set the sprinkler timer to run for 10 minutes, then rest for an hour and then run another 10 minutes.
- Apply a “wetting agent”. Wetting agents break the surface tension of water and allow the water to penetrate deeper. They encourage better use of water and deeper root growth. You can purchase these products online in ready to use containers that connect to your garden hose. Try “Ex Wet”, or “Hydretain” that suggest you can reduce watering by 50%.
Check Sprinkler Coverage
And make sure you don’t have any broken heads or loose drip lines.
Eliminate Water Leaks
Look for leaks at hose spigots, sprinkler valves, and broken sprinkler heads or lines. Perform a “sprinkler audit” every 2 months in your garden.
Run Sun and Shaded Sprinkler Areas Differently
Often times I see homeowners or gardeners set all the zones the same, but sunny and shaded areas require different run times and frequency.
Install a Smart Controller
Consider a controller like a Rachio sprinkler timer. These new smart controllers use local weather stations to control your watering frequency based on live weather data.
Mulch Regularly Through the Drought
We install mulch when we first install planting because it helps with moisture retention and weed abatement. Apply a fresh inch of mulch at the start of every spring season. Be careful not to mulch over 2 inches thick as some plants will rot from too much mulch. Over time, mulch breaks down into the soil profile, enriching the mix, saving water, and releasing nutrients to the roots of plantings.
I have seen a lot of people using rocks and gravel in their garden planter beds. This is a bad idea when trying to save water. Rocks and gravel add heat, can burn plantings and wick moisture from below.
Using Drought Tolerant Plants: In this video Scott Cohen shows you a variety of drought tolerant plants you can use in California through the drought and beyond.