- Author: Rho Yare
And then, one day cities began reading those water meters and charging the nice, water loving citizens by the units of water used each month. You could almost tell the day the bills arrived. Neighbors discussed them at the mailbox with anger, frustration, even fear. “How can I afford this every month?” Or “How can I reduce my monthly bill?” And that was the birth (or at least the beginning) of serious discussions about how to be “water wise” or how to conserve water to lower the units of water consumption that consequently will lower the monthly bill.
During this last drought, many people just stopped watering their lawn. This helped reduce their water bill but does little else. In many cases it killed street trees as well.
Not watering grass in our climate guarantees that the grass will die. In its place, however will be weeds. Weeds can live and multiply in harsh, waterless conditions. And all those weeds are spreading seeds that land in your neighbor's lawns. And eventually even the weeds die from normal life cycle or lack of water. Then the wind blows the precious topsoil from your yard. This topsoil mixes with the other air in our valley and adds to air pollution.
What if I want to keep my lawn?
There are a few things you can do if you do not want to give up your lawn completely. Think about reducing the amount of lawn in your yard, which can help you save water and money. Having a beautiful yard without green grass does not mean just rocks, cactus, or artificial turf. Begin by removing a small section of the grass. Check with the Stanislaus Master Gardeners and local nurseries for plant suggestions to replace that green grass with other green, or gray, or yellow plants. Think beyond bark, boulders, and bare ground. The possibilities are endless. This time of the year is a perfect time to begin making plans for that winter yard renovation!
What are some easy tips to save water?
Now, if you are not ready to commit to a grassless or partially grassless yard there are some changes that can help in reducing water consumption. First, examine your current watering system. If you have a sprinkler system, do not assume that it is working properly. Checking weekly during the warm weather is a must, especially after the lawn is mowed and in the daylight. Is everything working properly, sprinklers putting water on the lawn not the sidewalk or street? Are the sprinklers clogged, broken, or even missing? If you have an automatic timer, check the timer, and remember to decrease time and days as the daylight time shortens and weather cools, and turn the sprinklers off when the rains begin. Be an agent of change for the better! Making a few changes now can make a difference in your water bill, landscape, and our world because we are all in it together.
Join Rho Yare on Zoom for an evening of tips on how to reduce your water bill, yard work, pesticide use, all while having a gorgeous yard on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. Sign up at http://ucanr.edu/sustainable/2020 to receive your link.
- Author: Anne E Schellman
As weather cools, you may notice ants coming indoors. Large numbers of ants may invade your kitchen, bathroom, garage, bedrooms, or even your living room! Spraying the offending ants with a pesticide or household cleaner (not recommended) may kill the ants you see, but it won't stop more from invading.
Why do ants invade?
Ants are looking for food, water, and sometimes shelter. They live in colonies composed of worker ants and reproductive ants. The workers leave the nest to “scout” for resources. As they travel, they leave a scent trail for other ants to follow. Once food or water is found and that information is communicated to the colony, more ants arrive to help gather the resource.
Your first step is to find out where the ants are coming from. Follow their trail until you find where they are entering. Then, use a caulking gun to seal up the cracks.
Is someone in your household inviting the ants? They may unknowingly do so by leaving sandwich crumbs or other foods on your kitchen counters. Pet food is also enticing to ants. Consider feeding your pets and then removing the food. Or, place your pet's food bowl in a larger bowl of water to create a “moat” that ants can't cross.
Wipe up invading ants and their trails with soapy water. This destroys the scent trail left behind that helps attract more ants and kills the ants that are present.
If you've followed all the directions above but ants continue to invade, you may need to use bait to manage the infestation. Baits are a combination of insecticides mixed with a material to attract ants. When ants take the bait, they taste it and pass it along. The insecticide builds up in the system of the worker ants and the queen, eventually killing them. The bait is slow-acting, so it may take a while to see a reduction in ants. If you choose to use a bait, make sure to follow the directions on the label for best results.
For more information about ant management, visit the UC IPM website to read the Ants Quick Tips card from UC IPM. You can also call the Master Gardener helpline at 525-6802 or send us a message at email@example.com.
The University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Stanislaus County Master Gardeners are available to answer questions on Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Drop off a pest or gardening problem sample anytime during business hours to the Stanislaus Agricultural Center at 3800 Cornucopia Way Suite A in Modesto, 95358, and we will get back to you.