As the weather in the bay area is heating up and the rain storms seem to be few and far between, now is they time to ensure your garden is set for the warmer weather. An important factor any conscious Californian is aware of – water usage. Here are three water saving tips to consider when preparing your garden for fun in the sun:
One very important technical factor in any garden that is water conscious is optimization of the irrigation system. It is important to turn on your system to make sure it is running at peak performance. Leaks in the system can waste an extreme amount of water when not repaired. Also, if your system is mainly spray irrigation, make sure the spray heads are covering the areas they are supposed to. If you notice brown spots in lawns there could be a problem with coverage and areas are not getting enough water. If you find a very soggy area too much water is being used and wasted. In a spray irrigation system plants can typically grow and block spray heads, it is important to visually check the coverage and make sure plants aren’t blocking other plants from receiving the spray coverage. Drip irrigation systems can also pop drip emitters, which control the water flow and lines can get moved or cut by kids, animals, or machines which need immediate repair. Drip emitters could also be knocked out of place and not be in the proper location for plant roots to get watered. A visual check during a system run through is just as important as your observations on how the garden is looking – dry, wet or out of control.
Be sure to set the watering schedule of your system seasonally to take advantage of local conditions. You could just be turning it after the winter, which is why right now is the perfect time to be completing your system run through. Typically early mornings are best for watering to take advantage of the cool temperatures and get the garden set for the day. A deep, infrequent watering is more beneficial than multiple quick waterings, unless you have a sloping property or clay soil, which need more often waterings, with less time to minimize runoff. Check out this Irrigation Schedule courtesy of EBMUD for recommended watering times all year round.
Consider your Lawn
Although lawns are a staple in the residential landscape, consider the amount of water they consume to keep them looking green and healthy. Also, consider the amount of lawn space you actually use. If you typically only play ball with the kids in the back yard maybe consider eliminating the front yard lawn and replace it with low-water requiring plants. A great display of ornamental grasses in the front garden to replace the water hogging lawn will definitely add value to your house.
Plant with Purpose
Different plants require different water needs. When planting in the garden it is important to consider the water needs of the plants and group plants together that have complimentary watering requirements. Then your garden will thrive with the water given. This allows you to avoid overwatering certain plants or under-watering others. Also, if you have an area where you do not want to add irrigation, but would like to add plants, consider going native. Once established, most California native plants do not require regular irrigation; some will even fail when given too much water during summer months. Since they are native to the region, they thrive in the natural environment, meaning when it is wet they want to be watered and when it is dry they can survive without (of course some deep watering can help in the heat of summer).
Hope this helps optimize your garden for low water use this year!