Fall and the Drought-Tolerant Garden - Nipomo, California
Fall and the Issue 4, 2008 Nipomo Community Services District Drought-Tolerant GardenConservation News Fall is my favorite time of year in California. The weather is gorgeous, and it is the time for reflection on the state of my garden. The decisions made in the Fall can dictate the success of the landscape in Spring and Summer. Pruning, removing failing plants, applying mulch—this sets the stage for the quiet Winter landscape, a time for the soil and the gardener to rest and enjoy the quiet rustling of a resting landscape. Fall is the time to say goodbye to summer blooms, take a good look at what worked well and what didn’t work well in the garden over the previous Spring and Summer, and plan the preparations for next Spring. REVIEWING THE LANDSCAPE: • Using a critical eye, ruthlessly assess the garden, and make a list of both the problems needing attention and the gardening choices that were successes. • Before you do anything, think about the garden and its purpose. Is it a place primarily for entertaining, a place for children and pets to play, a serene place to relax and reflect, or a combination of two or more of these purposes? A landscape’s purpose should define the design and the plant material placed in it, and it is easy to lose sight of the landscape’s purpose when faced with a cacophony of plants at a nursery. If the yard is primarily a children’s play area, then cacti and other thorny plants are not appropriate near play areas. Define the role of your landscape, and keep it in mind as you make decisions about design and plant selection. • Observe the garden’s appearance as one big picture. Without concentrating on individual plants, look for areas that are not working or could be improved. • Then look for larger issues such as balance between the areas (size, color and shapes), repeating color and focal points to draw the eye. • Look for plant successes and failures of individual plants. Decide whether the failures were because of plant choice, soil, location or other factors. • Identify plants which have outgrown their space. • Locate plants that have disease and/or pests. Identify the problems and methods of control to get rid of them. • Assess the condition of the mulch. MAKE DECISIONS: Now is the time to make decisions regarding design and plant use. If a plant is not working because of its placement, then move it to an appropriate place or discard and replace it. If plants have disease and/or pests, decide whether the plant is worth the work required to keep it looking good and from spreading disease and pests to other plants. If an area does not look good or does not fit with the rest of the yard, decide what changes to make and draw up a basic plan, selecting plants that will work well in that site. Decide which plants need to be pruned and the best time for doing so. For instance, roses in California are best pruned in the late winter. Decide whether to add to the current mulch or remove it all and replace with fresh mulch. With some plant diseases, such as sooty mold or powdery mildew, spores can collect in the mulch and, when the conditions are right in the Spring, can spring to life anew. To keep this type of disease under control, removal of old mulch and placement of new mulch is often necessary. 148 S. Wilson St. FALL COLOR: Nipomo, CA 93444 For the drought-tolerant garden, fall color is best achieved by planning ahead and planting perennials (805) 929-1133 which make their show during the fall. Plants include Bigleaf Maple (red leaves), Toyon (red berries), Western www.ncsd.ca.gov or Fremont Dogwood (bright yellow leaves), Mexican Elderberry (edible blue berries), California Native Grape (brilliant red leaves), and California Fuschia (bright orange flowers). Plants that have flowers continuing into the Fall include Bidens (yellow flowers) and Cedros Island Verbena (lavender flowers).
Issue 4, 2008 Fall and the Drought-Tolerant Garden (Cont’d.) OTHER FALL MAINTENANCE TIPS: • When applying mulch, keep it off the branches and about 3” away from the trunk. • When pruning, remember to disinfect the cutting surfaces of the pruner after you finish each plant’s pruning and before moving on to the next plant. Disinfection can be accomplished by dipping the pruners into a 10% chlorine bleach (Clorox) solution. • Keep diseased prunings out of the compost pile to avoid the spread of disease. • Do not put prunings from plants that were treated with pesticides into the compost; they may have residues that will kill the pile’s organisms necessary to compost. • Divide plants such as daylilies which have grown too large for their place. MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL: After finishing with Fall gardening chores, remember to adjust the irrigation as necessary, both for the changing weather and the changes made in the garden. Washing-machine rebate program underway! The NCSD, partnering with the California Urban Water Conservation Council (www.cuwcc.org), is offering NCSD customers a rebate of $150 for the purchase of a high-efficiency clothes washer. Visit the CUWCC website and click on “SmartRebates to get a list of clothes washers that qualify, and for the application for the rebate. All of the paperwork of the rebate is handled by the CUWCC, and they have an 800 number (1.800.563.5874) for your convenience. In addition, both the Southern California Gas Company (www.socalgas.com) and PG&E (www.pge.com) offer clothes washer rebates. Visit their websites for qualifying models and application forms. Changes in County Plumbing Regulations for Water Conservation The San Luis Obispo County declared the Nipomo Mesa groundwater basin as Level of Severity III for water resources, with more water being withdrawn from the groundwater basin than can be replenished by nature. To help address this situation, measures are being developed which will help conserve water. These include a requirement to refit plumbing to high-efficiency components prior to sale of the house (already passed by the Board of Supervisors), and requiring developers to retrofit homes or contribute to a fund to retrofit homes and structures to offset the amount of water the new development will use (not yet passed by the Board of Supervisors). Further information will be made available when the final program measures are passed. NCSD Staff Board of Directors Bruce Buel, General Manager Mike Winn, President Lisa Bognuda, Assistant General Manager James Harrison, Vice President Peter Sevcik, District Engineer Clifford Trotter, Director Celeste Whitow, Conservation Coordinator Larry Vierhelig, Director Ed Eby, Director INFO ON ● Water Conservation ● Landscaping, Plants ● Water Quality ● Composting THE NCSD 148 S. Wilson St. ● Fixing Leaks ● Reading the Water MeterNipomo, CA 93444 ● Drip Irrigation ● Recycling WEBSITE (805) 929-1133 ● Septic System Maintenance ● Hazarous Household Wastewww.ncsd.ca.gov ● Water-Wise Landscape Design ● Landscape Maintenance Info. ● Worm Composting ● Irrigation Controller Programming www.ncsd.ca.gov ● Native Plants ● Past Issues of Newsletter