You have taken the first step to reducing your water use and improving water quality by adjusting your irrigation and making repairs as necessary. Now it's time to create a garden that is low-impact.
A low-impact garden will use less water, minimize run-off, reduce potential water pollutants, decrease green waste, decrease energy consumption and air pollution.
So what can we do to garden “green”?
- Plant the right plants – Mediterranean plants, California natives, succulents, other water-wise plants, California friendly plants, for example: Coral Bells, Sage, Galvezia, Bay Laurel, California Live Oak, Manzanita, California poppy, Ceanothus, Yarrows, Cyrtanthus (South Africa), California Redbud, Mahonia, Arctotis, Statice, Lantana, “Lions tail,” Banksia, Sedum, and Agave, to name a few.
- Plant a lawn only where needed for pets and children
- Use turf alternatives, for example, Carex pansa (plugs, meadow-like, evergreen, takes six to eight months to fill-in, mow two to three times per year, takes moderate traffic) and Buffalo grass (takes one year to completely fill-in)
- Use fertilizer intelligently – use the appropriate amount and keep fertilizer on the landscape, not the pavement
- Create hydrozones – areas where plants have the same water needs (low, medium, high water need plants should be grouped in separate zones)
- Avoid open soil on slopes and next to paving
- Use permeable surfaces
- Drain water to the garden not to the gutter
- Consider water harvesting rain-barrels or storage tanks
- Do not wash down the driveway, etc
- Compost green waste
- Apply mulch to suppress weeds and retain soil moisture
- RELAX and ENJOY!
For more information on what to plant in your landscape, visit:
For the most part, the bane of every gardener are those pesky weeds. You take a walk in the garden, admiring the serene surroundings, and out of the corner of your eye, there it is - a two-foot tall imposter trying to blend in, but you know it doesn't belong! "How in the world?" you ask yourself. Relax, it happens to all of us. Aside from creating a completely sterile environment you are going to have weeds. Those sometimes lovely yet obnoxious pests that you probably did not plant. The question is, what can you do to prevent them?
In the UCCE demonstration landscapes here at the UC ANR South Coast Research and Extension Center, we primarily use non-chemical methods to prevent and remove weeds.
A 3" layer of coarse-textured mulch has been applied to the soil of each garden bed to suppress weed establishment. Any weeds that are vigorous enough to emerge are hand-weeded. Scouting the landscapes on a frequent basis has also assisted with keeping any weed populations under control.
Around the cemented hard-scape areas we use a crack weeder in-between joints. However we do have other types of hard-scape, so now and again, ready-to-use products are applied in-between pavers and flagstone that are set in decomposed granite so as not to loosen the aggregate with crack weeders or other tools. When any chemicals are applied, we always make sure the air is calm to prevent drift and there is no rain in the forecast to minimize any potential pollutants leaving the landscape.
Yes, we still get weeds, but these practices have all but eliminated our use of herbicides creating a healthier environment within the landscapes. For more information on how to best manage the pests within your landscape, visit:
Do you know that 20% of all energy in California is used to move water? By reducing our water consumption, we not only extend the life of our water reserves, we also decrease the stress on the electrical grid.
We are all looking for ways to use less water, prevent run-off, improve the health of our water ways, and of course SAVE $$$$$ on our utility bills. With just a few simple steps you can quickly improve your irrigation efficiency while becoming a wealthier steward of the environment.
So what can you do?
- Fix sprinkler leaks and breaks
- Fix clogged, broken, or misdirected sprinkler heads
- Adjust sprinklers or designs – curves and narrow turf areas are hard to irrigate
- Use drip or trickle irrigation where appropriate
- Use small space irrigation such as micro-irrigation
- Switch conventional sprinkler heads to efficient water conserving rotator heads which deliver water at a slower rate reducing misting
- Switch to SMART irrigation “timers” which adjusts watering to the weather and can save 25-30% of your landscape water use
- Drain water to the garden not to the gutter
Sometimes there are things that just bear repeating. Personally, I think the tips listed can't be said enough....
The holidays are here and regardless of how you may choose to celebrate, there is one thing that we all have in common: the New Year's resolution. As the New Year approaches, we begin reflecting on all of those nasty little habits that we have and ways in which to modify our behavior as soon as January 1st hits. We always start off with the very best of intentions but more often than not, we are back to our old ways and left with nothing more than broken promises.
But wait, hope is not lost! I have a few really great goals that are easily achieved and will benefit the environment and your pocket book.
1. Decrease Your Waste-Line
- Take old pesticides to the nearest household hazardous waste collection center. Call (714) 834-6752 or visit www.oclandfills.com for directions and hours of operation.
2. Recycle Nutrients From Your Landscape
- Leave grass clippings on the lawn to recycle nutrients.
3. Increase Your Water Savings
- During the Fall and Winter months reduce the amounts of days between irrigating as plants use less water when days are shorter and weather is cooler.
- Turn off your sprinklers when it is raining.
- Mulch garden beds to reduce evaporation from bare soil.
4. Reduce Nutrient Loss
- Apply fertilizers only when plants are actively growing.
5. Reduce Weeds in Your Yard
- Reduce weeds by applying a thick mulch layer around plants.
6. Encourage Beneficial Insects in Your Yard
- Use less-toxic garden chemical alternatives whenever possible.
Becoming a better steward of the land may not have been what you had in mind as you were reflecting on changes that you might make, but how can you go wrong when it benefits everyone and saves you money at the same time? We hope that after giving it some thought you will incorporate one or two of these resolutions. For more support to a leaner and greener garden, call the UCCE Master Gardener Hotline (714) 708-1646 for free advice.