Practical Tips for Saving Water in the Garden From Horticultural Consultant Suzanne Arca


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Practical Tips for Saving Water in the Garden From Horticultural Consultant Suzanne Arca

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Practical Tips for Saving Water in the Garden From Horticultural Consultant Suzanne Arca

  1. 1. Water-Wise WateringPractical Tips for Saving Water in the Garden from Horticultural Consultant Suzanne Arca • Water less frequently but more deeply. Watering to the root depth of your plants creates a healthier and more efficient garden. For lawns planted in heavy clay soil, this means applying ½ inch of water to moisten the soil to a depth of 6 inches; water shrubs even more deeply and less frequently. Aeration of clay soils will greatly benefit poor water penetration. Lawns in sandy soil will require less water but more frequent application. • Reduce urban runoff caused by long irrigation cycles. Use your irrigation controller to break up the application of water into shorter run times. This is especially true if your lawn or garden is planted on a slope or in clay soil. • Irrigate your plants when they show signs of stress, not just because it is the right day on the watering schedule. Use a soil moisture sensor to determine if your plants need watering. • Adjust your irrigation controller according to the season. Gardens need less water in the winter and spring than in summer and fall. Add and subtract watering days according to seasonal needs. Also, water in the early morning to minimize water loss by evaporation and to discourage disease. Avoid watering on windy days. • Upgrade your irrigation controller to a Water-Smart Irrigation Controller. This will reduce outdoor water use, improve water efficiency, and promote healthy and attractive landscapes. • Routinely check your irrigation system for leaks. Run through all the programmed stations to make sure there are no broken lines or misadjusted heads. • When appropriate, choose drip irrigation. Drip systems apply water more accurately and at a much lower rate than overhead spray systems. Water is measured in gallons per minute instead of gallons per hour. Slow, accurate application of water to the plant roots prevents overspray and runoff. • Select plants that are adapted to Mediterranean climates. Whether adding to your existing garden or replacing plants, choose Mediterranean or California native plants that will thrive on less summer water. • Group plants in “hydrozones.” Use separate stations to irrigate plants grouped together according to their high, medium, or low water needs. • Apply mulch to your garden. At least 3 inches of mulch will help maintain moisture in the soil, suppress weeds—or at least make them easier to pull—protect drip lines from the UV sun rays, and give the garden a finished look. Suzanne Arca Horticultural Consultant Albany, CA 510/558-0636
  2. 2. Recommended Books Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates Published by East Bay Municipal Utility District, winner of the American Horticultural Society’s 2005 Book Award, available at California Native Plants for the Garden by Carol Bornstein, David Fross and Bart O’Brian, 2005 Plant Life in the World’s Mediterranean Climates by Peter R. Dallman, 1998 The New Native Garden: Designing with Australian Plants, by Paul and Leigh Clapp Urquhart, 2007 Native Treasures: Gardening with the Plants of California by M. Nevin Smith, 2006 Native Gardens for Dry Climates by Sally Wasowski, 1995 Landscape Plants for Western Regions: An Illustrated Guide to Plants for Water Conservation by Bob Perry, 1992 (Out of print, but try libraries, garage sales, and used book stores)Local Sources of Dry-Climate Plants Armstrong Garden Center, 7360 San Ramon Road, Dublin, CA 94568 Alden Lane Nursery, 981 Alden Lane, Livermore, CA 94550 Orchard Nursery & Florist, 4010 Mt. Diablo Boulevard, Lafayette, CA 94549 Berkeley Horticultural Nursery, 1310 McGee Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94703 The Dry Garden, 6556 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94609 Flora Grubb Gardens, 1634 Jerrold Way, San Francisco, CA 94124 1074 Guerrero Street, San Francisco, CA 94110Horticultural Consultant Suzanne Arca holds a degree in Landscape Architecture from the University ofCalifornia at Berkeley. A licensed Design & Build Landscape Contractor and certified Horticulturalist,Arca teaches for the Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of California BerkeleyExtension and the Landscape Horticultural Department at Merritt College in Oakland. She haspresented workshops on dry-climate gardening for the Dublin San Ramon Services District. Suzanne Arca Horticultural Consultant Albany, CA 510/558-0636