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First Two Years in Water-wise Garden - Notes


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  • 1. 1/6/2013Out of the Wilds and Into Your Garden The First Two Years in the Native Plant Garden C.M. Vadheim and T. Drake CSUDH & Madrona Marsh Preserve Madrona Marsh Preserve Gardening with Western L.A. County Native Plants August 20 & 23, 2011 Project SOUND – 2011 (our 7th year) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND The first two years can be a little scary….. …trust me, it’s even more scary for the plants!  Nursery life is heavenly:  Plenty of water  Nice, appropriate, well- drained potting soil  Extra nutrients  A little extra shade/ temperature control  Pest-free  Basically, a coddled life- style that allows many of them to survive infancy (as they rarely would in the wild) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 1
  • 2. 1/6/2013 What happens in nature? [Ceanothus] 10 Lessons to help you – and your plants - Out in nature In the new garden through the first two years A big disturbance –  A big disturbance – you remove fire/etc. removes at existing plants least the shoots of existing plants  Plant Year 1 – the plant is established in the nursery – likely more water, Plant Year 1 – with nutrients than in nature adequate rainfall seeds to sprout & establish new  Plant Year 2/Garden Year 1 – you plant seedlings; root system your new Ceanothus in the garden – develops what a shock! Some root/shoot growth Plant Year 2 – chugging right along expanding  Plant Year 3/Garden Year 2 – roots & shoots developing good roots & shoots Plant Year 3 – pretty  Plant Year 4/Garden Year 3 – almost much established established © Project SOUND © Project SOUND What is the ‘Establishment Phase’? What is the ‘Establishment Phase’?  The period in which a new plant becomes relatively self-sustaining  Length varies by species, (when given it’s requirements) – a but some general rules of gradual process thumb:  Annuals: 1-2 months  Involves two aspects:  Herbaceous perennials: 1-3  Acclimating to the garden environment years  Developing sufficient root structure to  Perennial grasses: 1-2 years support and sustain the plant  Local sub-shrubs: 1-2 years  Generally, the plant becomes 2-3  Woody shrubs & trees: 2-5 times its planting size during this years; the larger & slower- growing species take up to 5 Phase years  Plants require extra care during the establishment phase © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 2
  • 3. 1/6/2013 What is required during the Establishment Lesson 1: Plant with the seasons Phase?  Increased observation – as with any baby  Extra water during dry periods – including prolonged winter dry spells and summer/fall  Decreased competition from other plants – most notably weeds © Project SOUND © Project SOUNDWhat do we mean by ‘plant with the seasons’? The growth cycle of S. CA native perennial species (herbaceous to woody)  Fall/winter rains (Dec-Mar)  Seeds germinate (many)  Begin above-ground stem growth  Leaf out (may be ‘spring’ leaves)  ‘early’ flowering – some species  Spring warm/dry down period (Apr-June)  Seed germination (warm weather)  Continue stem growth  Many will flower © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 3
  • 4. 1/6/2013 Advantages to planting during the rainy How much do I need to water during the season first two years? Saves water – soils are naturally moist (Water Zone 3) during the critical first few months Vulnerable plants get the best water possible; dissolved oxygen & nutrients Vulnerable plants are not exposed to temperature extremes (at least in the past) Soils are well-saturated – promotes deep/wide root growth Coincides with native plant’s normal growth cycle; plants are primed to grow at this time © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Lesson 2: Water to promote survival, not Watering: the impact of abundant growth where we live  Region 3-South Coastal  Climate Zones 22, 23 & 24  CIMIS ETo Zones 1, 2, 4 and 6  Region 4-South Inland Valleys and Foothills  Climate Zones 18, 19, 20 and 21  CIMIS ETo Zone 9 © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 4
  • 5. 1/6/2013 Newly planted native plants should get a The benefits – and challenges – of where we live thorough soaking We can grow plants from a number of plant communities:  Soak new plants no matter  Wetland/riparian what the planting season  Northern coastal prairie/CSS  Southern coastal prairie  The first watering is  CSS important – over-soak to  Chaparral settle the soil & remove air  Southern oak woodland pockets  Mojave & Sonoran deserts  Overhead watering is fine – We need to be aware of local weather patterns the plants will think it’s  Winters may be overly dry – or wet raining  Plants from some communities need more water than we usually get – at least in the summer © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Treat new plants as Water Zone 3 for the So, we’ve gotten to June, and it’s starting first winter/early spring (through April) to get hot & dry….  Rains may do the job  Check soil moisture, especially if we have:  Long period (3+ weeks) with no winter rains  Very hot periods (winter Santa Anas)  Strong winds (soil dries faster than you think)  Check beneath the surface (under mulch) - ~ 3-4 inches  Dig down with trowel  Use a moisture meter or soil sampler © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 5
  • 6. 1/6/2013The first dry season is crucial - and challenging We’ve been led to believe that all plants grow like tropical plants…  ‘Don’t under-water; plants can die before they become established’  ‘Don’t over water! It leads to the death of many native plants; their roots suffocate & die of rot or disease.’ © Project SOUND © Project SOUND…and now the native plant ‘experts’ are trying to give us Why can’t those (@@###**) experts get the same 1-2-3 gardening rules their watering advice straight??? With CA native plants, one size does NOT fit all © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 6
  • 7. 1/6/2013 Why can’t those (@@###**) experts get Gardens in Mediterranean climates their watering advice straight??? (including S. CA) have three Water Zones  Your soils (and other  Zone 1 – no supplemental summer water; soils relevant conditions) may be are dry in summer/fall. different  They may be talking about  Zone 2 – occasional summer water; soil is a different climate region allowed to dry out between waterings. (often N. CA) Watering is slow & deep to replenish the soil water stores. In most gardens, you will water  They may be thinking about different species deeply 1-2 times per month in summer. which have differentYou need to consider the  Zone 3 – regular water; soil is usually moist to water needsinformation source - and use the soggy, even in summer.Water Zone principles © Project SOUND © Project SOUNDWater Result/consequence Water Zone Principles for the first 2 years Description PictureZone (for mature plants) Many Zone 1 plants (including Interpretation: give more water  ‘Water to keep the plant many native to western L.A.Zone 1 No supplemental county & deserts) become than the plant’s mature Water alive, not to make it grow water summer dormant; some shade Zone – but as close to it as fast. Try to make the reasonable. Taper the amount species remain green of water off as the root system plant drought tolerant!’ Includes ‘CA Natives’ from develops. Occasional water; many plant communities;  ‘Watering less often and soil dries out occasional summer water more deeply to stimulateZone 2 between deep helps many species to remain waterings evergreen – many also extend Interpretation: follow good roots to grow deeper bloom season Water Zone practices (e.g. water instead of on the surface deeply and less frequently) even where they will be during the first 2 years Regular water; Only native riparian and some susceptible to drying out.’Zone 3 soil moist/ soggy mountain/N. CA species – will kill many local CA natives © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 7
  • 8. 1/6/2013 Why more water during the first year? No two gardens are alike: that’s why you need to monitor your soil moisture  Weaning from ‘nursery  Check soil conditions’ which moisture every 1-2 included plenty of water weeks during the  Less cover/shade = first year; water higher evaporation rates as needed using the ‘rules of  Less developed/ thumb’ efficient root systems - < 10% of area covered by  Remember: some roots areas may dry out more quickly The only way you can assure that you are watering correctly is to use the Water Zone method and check your soils! © Project SOUND © Project SOUNDWatering rules of thumb -  Year 1: The best ways to supply water during the  First winter/spring – Zone 3 the first 2 years (rain alone may suffice) first two years – S. CA gardens  First summer/fall – one full Water Zone more than it’s  Low frequency (1-4 times a mature Zone – decrease month), long duration (4-12 hours) slightly in Aug/Sept unless it irrigation is best to thoroughly gets summer rain in nature soak the soil.  Year 2:  Hose, drip, soaker hose or low  Second winter/spring – water volume "micro“ sprinkler are only if rains are inadequate often good choices  Second summer/fall:  Use overhead watering very  Grasses & local native sub- shrubs: mature Water Zone carefully – don’t let leaves remain  All other perennial/woody moist in warm weather species: ½ Zone above mature  Do not water during the heat of Zone – decrease slightly in the day. Try very early morningYear 3: large woody shrubs/trees: Aug/Sept. unless it getsoccasional supplemental summer water summer rain in nature or evening (good in coastal areas) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 8
  • 9. 1/6/2013Some more irrigation tips for watering young This class is about teaching you ‘how to fish’native plants  For individual plants, drip irrigation or hose watering is best. You can even use a ‘Homer Bucket’ for individual plants.  For large areas, micro-sprinklers or soaker hoses are best – good flexibility, control & coverage.  Don’t forget to move the irrigation out as roots grow; make sure that the entire root system gets wet.  Because conditions vary from garden to garden, and even within gardens, the best irrigation schedule is determined by watching your plants. Manually set each zone on the controller.  Relax: in well-drained soils, water is not typically an issue when the appropriate plants are chosen for the site (i.e., full sun, coastal...), and planting takes place during the cool, rainy season © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Bunchgrasses –  Year 1:  First winter/spring – Zone 3 Why do bunchgrasses mature quickly Water Zone 1-2 (rain alone may suffice) (have a short establishment Phase)?  First summer/fall – one full Water Zone more than it’s mature Zone – decrease  Perennial grasses tend to grow slightly in Aug/Sept unless it quickly – they establish an gets summer rain in nature extensive root system the  Year 2: first year  Second winter/spring – water only if rains are inadequate  They tend to have relatively  Second summer/fall: deep roots (3+ feet) compared  Grasses & local native sub- to non-native lawn grasses Deergrass – Muhlenbergia rigens shrubs: mature Water Zone  All other perennial/woody  S. CA bunchgrasses tolerate species: ½ Zone above matureYear 3: large woody shrubs/trees: Zone – decrease slightly in dry conditions really welloccasional supplemental summer water Aug/Sept. unless it gets summer rain in nature en/plants/19-Muhlenbergia_rigens.htm © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 9
  • 10. 1/6/2013 The growth cycle of S. CA native A comparison of two shrubs perennial species (herbaceous to woody) Coastal Sage Scrub Chaparral  Dry period (June/July-Nov) Black Sage – Salvia mellifera Bigpod Ceanothus – C. megacarpus  Stem elongation (slower; may be ‘summer’ type growth pattern)  Foliage: effect depends on species  Evergreen plants usually produce no new leaves – but retain leaves  Many plants in some plant communities (Coastal Sage Scrub; Coastal Prairie; Coastal shrubland) are drought deciduous  Some plants from these communities produce special ‘summer leaves’ that may remain on the plant until late summerWhy this variability & what  May leaf out & even flower if summerdoes it mean for watering? rains/watering occur © Project SOUND © Project SOUND California Black Sage – Salvia mellifera Black Sage – Salvia mellifera  A “CA coastal plant”  Coastal ranges from San Jose to Baja  Channel Islands and Baja coastal islands  on South and West facing slopes on rocky soil in Californias coastal sage scrub and chaparral plant communities  Often in slightly wetter sites than other native Salvias  Common; may form dense thickets in wild,4865,4880 10
  • 11. 1/6/2013 Watering rules of thumb: Black Sage – Salvia mellifera – Zone 1-2  Year 1:  First winter/spring – Zone 3 (rain alone may suffice)  First summer/fall – one full Water Zone more than it’s mature Zone – decrease slightly in Aug/Sept.  Year 2:  Second winter/spring – water only if rains are inadequate  Second summer/fall:  Grasses & local native sub-shrubs: mature Water Zone  All other perennial/woody species: ½ Zone above mature Zone – decrease slightly in Aug/Sept. Black Sage is one tough plant – and part of the reason is Year 3: large woody shrubs/trees: it’s summer dormancy!!!! occasional supplemental summer water © Project SOUNDBig-pod Ceanothus – Ceanothus megacarpus Big-pod Ceanothus – Ceanothus megacarpus  Coast of S. CA from Santa Barbara to San var. insularis Diego Co. – CA endemic  var. insularis – Channel Isl. (Catalina & San Clemente in south)  var. megacarpus – mainland (Santa Monica Mtns our nearest) var. megacarpus  Dry, chaparral slopes below 2000 ft. © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 11
  • 12. 1/6/2013Big-pod Ceanothus Ceanothus –  Year 1:  Soils:is a chaparral shrub  Texture: rocky or sandy best Water Zone 1-2  First winter/spring – Zone 3 (rain – needs well-drained soil alone may suffice)  pH: any local  First summer/fall – one full Water Zone more than it’s mature Zone –  Light: decrease slightly in Aug/Sept.  Full sun to light shade unless it gets summer rains in  Benefits from afternoon nature shade in hot inland gardens  Year 2:  Water:  Second winter/spring – water only  Winter: needs good winter if rains are inadequate rains  Second summer/fall:  Summer: low needs – Zone 1-  Grasses & local native sub-shrubs: 2 (water very infrequently, if mature Water Zone at all, once established)  All other perennial/woody species:  Fertilizer: none; likes poor soils; ½ Zone above mature Zone – likes an organic mulch decrease slightly in Aug/Sept. Year 3: large woody shrubs/trees: unless it gets summer rains in occasional supplemental summer water © Project SOUND nature © Project SOUND Comparison of yearly cycle: CSS vs Chaparral What happens when mature shrubs dry out? Coastal Sage Scrub Chaparral Coastal Sage Scrub Chaparral Environmental  Environmental  Lower total moisture/rain  Higher total moisture  Twigs become very  Twigs don’t become so  Rain & snow dehydrated (lose 75-90% of dehydrated (lose 15-~40% of  May also have summer rains their water) their water)  Moderate temperatures  Wider temperature extremes  Causes emboli (air bubbles) in  Less apt to develop emboli  Less natural mulch  More natural mulch the water conducting vascular tissue (Xylem tubes) Growth patterns  Growth patterns  Summer deciduous (facultative)  Evergreen  Causes plants to lose their  Thus, they can remain leaves & become dormant evergreen  Short, rapid growth season –  Longer growth season – winter through May/June spring through summer  CSS shrubs are programmed  Adult plants (which are  May produce separate ‘summer  May have growth/flowering to grow rapidly in response drought tolerant) don’t need foliage’ (late spring) that is after summer rains to water – they need to ‘re- to react so quickly to water more drought resistant grow’ their vascular tissue © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 12
  • 13. 1/6/2013 Differences in root growth reflect native Take-home message environment  Perennials from CSS, Coastal Coastal Sage Scrub Chaparral Shrubland and Coastal Prairie have dense, shallow roots Environmental  Environmental  Lower total moisture/rain  Higher total moisture  They tend to become established  Rain & snow quickly (1-2 years) and be < 6 ft tall  May also have summer rains  Moderate temperatures  Wider temperature extremes  They tend to dry out in early  More natural mulch summer – either losing their leaves  Less natural mulch or growing small summer leaves Roots – 1-8x above-ground  Roots – 6-40x above-ground area  Mature plants do best with little area  Shallow roots – like CSS; grow with rain (Zone 1-2) water; will stay green  Wide-spread, multi-branched  +/- Intermediate (often re- longer – but shorter-lived – with (net-like) shallow (0-3 ft) roots – very efficient for sprouting) roots more (Zone 2) water, nutrient up-take; grow  +/- Very deep vertical roots – with winter rains down into bedrock & watertable © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Watering rules of thumb -  Year 1: Take-home message  First winter/spring – Zone 3 the first 2 years (rain alone may suffice)  Plants from Chaparral have both  First summer/fall – one full shallow & deep roots, allowing Water Zone more than it’s them to maximize available mature Zone – decrease water slightly in Aug/Sept unless it gets summer rain in nature  The roots take longer to develop – hence the longer  Year 2: Establishment Phase for  Second winter/spring – water Chaparral shrubs only if rains are inadequate  Second summer/fall:  Once established, Chaparral shrubs are very drought  Grasses & local native sub- shrubs: mature Water Zone tolerant  All other perennial/woody  The roots of Chaparral shrubs species: ½ Zone above mature allow them to be both evergreen Year 3: large woody shrubs/trees: Zone – decrease slightly in and a large size (usually > 6 ft) occasional supplemental summer Aug/Sept. unless it gets water; all others at mature Zone summer rain in nature © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 13
  • 14. 1/6/2013 What plant communities normally How do I know if my plants are growing properly? experience some summer moisture? Summer monsoons Summer fogs Sonoran Desert  Northern Coastal Sage S. CA Mountain Scrub/Coastal Chaparral Communities Chaparral (+/-)  Fog events (usually over several days) can provide up to 2-3 inches of precipitation Summer monsoon events  Can occur from June-Aug usually Aug-Sept  Fog drip occurs at night Locally rare – but can contribute significant precipitation in a single event (1/2-3”) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Lesson 3: Species have normal growth You may have heard this old saw about patterns; speed; size; shape; etc. the growth of CA native plants… This probably fits large shrubs best © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 14
  • 15. 1/6/2013 Grasses and grass-like plants look good, Bunchgrasses look a little thin the first year but smaller, the first year Nassella – 6 months 12 months © Project SOUND Nassella – 24 months © Project SOUNDThin Grass – Agrostis pallens Rushes & sedges keep getting bigger 12 months 3 months 24 months  ‘lawn-like’ grasses take 1-2 6 months years to look mature © Project SOUND 24 months © Project SOUND 15
  • 16. 1/6/2013 Perennials, especially the groundcover Hummingbird Sage – Salvia spathaceatypes, often look pretty wimpy the first year © Project SOUND Woody groundcover plants fill in readily Hummingbird Sage – slow to go 2 years after planting 12 months Pigeon Point coyote brush (Baccharis pilularis Pigeon Point), deer grass and Canyon Prince giant rye (Leymus condensatus Canyon Prince 26 months © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 16
  • 17. 1/6/2013Sub-shrubs often look mature quite early Large shrubs/small trees go through an ‘adolescent phase’ 6 months 4 months 12 months Remember: these are CSS sub-shrubs – they grow & mature quickly 8 months © Project SOUND Lemonadeberry – Rhus integrifolia Lemonadeberry in the wild http://www-  Can grow as individual plants or form close thickets 17
  • 18. 1/6/2013 Heritage Creek hedgerow Blue/Mexican Elderberry – Sambucus nigra spp. cerulea (S. cerulea) Fall, 2009 – 1.5 years Spring 2011 Fall 2010 1 year in the gardenElderberry doesn’t need a lot of pampering; in fact, it seems to thrive on neglect 6 months in the garden © Project SOUND 2 years in the garden 18
  • 19. 1/6/2013 Lesson 4: Mulch to conserve water – and much more  Will take some time & pruning to reach this mature size! © Project SOUND Mulches do more than just conserve water….. Mulch helps in the transition period  May help control the spread of plant diseases  May help control the effects/ numbers of insects  May help fruit/vegetable development  May help prevent soil erosionoose-between-rock-wood-mulch.html  Keeps feet clean, allowing access to garden even when damp  Provides a "finished" look to the garden  Can be an important design element (if desired) © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 19
  • 20. 1/6/2013 Conserving water & soil: mulch tips Organic mulches need to be renewed every fall  Mulch when/where appropriate – great water management tool  Why the need to renew?  Compaction  Choose mulches appropriate  Decomposition/breakdown for the plants (most  Loses it’s color important) and the physical conditions – see workbook  Benefits of mulch materials renewal in fall  Organic mulches  Easy time – when plants are dormant/pruned  Inorganic mulches  Adds color/interest  Look to Mother Nature  Prepares garden to when choosing mulches conserve the winter rains © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Lesson 5 :Fill in the gaps with annuals, Filler plants are a short-lived grasses, ‘filler plants’ life-saver  Short-lived grasses  Blue wildrye – Elymus glaucus  CA Brome – Bromus carinatus  Annual wildflowers  Clarkias  Tidy-tips  Globe Gilia  Phacelias  Everlastings  Perennials that re-seed  CA Poppy  Rosy Buckwheat © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 20
  • 21. 1/6/2013 Blue Wildrye – Elymus glaucus Blue (Western) Wildrye – Elymus glaucus  Short-lived, cool-season bunchgrass  Occurs: coast to mountains; open areas, chaparral, woodland, forest - often riparian areas  Size: 1-3+ ft; spreading – texture somewhat coarse (typical ryegrass)  Light: full sun to light shade (under Mulefat or Elderberry)  Soils: well-drained  Water: best on moderately moist soils but fairly drought tolerant  Good for natural-looking areas, slopes/banks, with oaks and conifers, as an accent plant USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Herbaceous perennial groundcovers What to do the first make great filler plants few years  Yarrow – Achillea millefolia  Nice mulch; fencing  Woodmints – Stachys spp  Annual wildflowers  Coastal Aster  Short-lived, quick-growing perennials & grasses  CA Fuschia – Epilobium canum  Informative signs © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 21
  • 22. 1/6/2013 Lesson 6 : Weeding is a fact of life Lesson 7 : Start pruning in the first year Weeds compete for water, nutrients & light – and they’re very good at it (that’s why they’re weeds!! © Project SOUND Remember – this plant gets very large without yearly tip-pruning © Project SOUND Properly pruned Black Sage Lesson 8 : Monitor your progress/revise your plan as needed Leave 3-4 pairs of new leaves/shoots © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 22
  • 23. 1/6/2013 Monitoring for problems Lesson 9 : Keep a Journal/ take photos  Plant water status  Plant health/pests  Plants dying  Areas with too much or too little water  Erosion/drainage problems  Gaps in the plant cover (only after first 2 years or so – hard to tell before that)  Plants that don’t fit the design/ are out of place © Project SOUND © Project SOUNDMadrona Water-wise Garden – Est. 12/05December 2005 - installation December 2006 – 12 months At 15 months, many plants appear quite mature. Why? April 2007 – 15 months April 2006 – 3 months © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 23
  • 24. 1/6/2013‘Garden of Dreams’ – CSUDH – Est 1/09 April 2009 Feb. 2010 April 2009 Feb. 2010 July 2009 April 2011 © Project SOUND July 2009 April 2011 © Project SOUNDMadrona Native Plant Garden – Est. 1/00 © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 24
  • 25. 1/6/2013 Observations Observations  Some plants have not  Species distribution has made it – others have changed – much like in flourished nature (annuals & re- seeders common early on)  Some plants are now in too much shade –  As expected, smaller succession plants established more quickly  Some plants probably planted in the wrong  The early garden looks place – grew too big ‘flat’ and ‘boring’ – many slow-growing species not  Some new plants are yet visible needed every year to fill gaps © Project SOUND © Project SOUND Evolution of a front yard… 2009 2005 © Project SOUND At one year At two years © Project SOUND 25
  • 26. 1/6/2013 Lesson 10 : Learn from Mother Nature – the ‘Head Gardener’ Third spring © Project SOUND © Project SOUNDEvolution of the Sasayama front yard © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 26
  • 27. 1/6/2013 Lessons for the First Two years We hope this class has helped you1. Plant with the seasons understand the first two years2. Water to promote survival, not abundant growth3. Species have normal growth patterns; speed; size; shape4. Mulch to conserve water – and much more5. Fill in the gaps with annuals, short-lived grasses, ‘filler plants’6. Weeding is a fact of life7. Start pruning in the first year8. Monitor your progress/revise your plan as needed9. Keep a Journal/ take photos10. Learn from Mother Nature – the ‘Head Gardener’ © Project SOUND © Project SOUND 27