Creating a Waterwise Lawn and Garden
We’re nearing the end of summer, but it’s never too late to start conserving water. Many landscapes in California receive much more water than they actually need. Here are some tips to keep your yard looking beautiful while saving water and resources.
Drought Proof an Existing Lawn
A good first step is to tune up your irrigation system. You want to make sure sprinkler heads aren’t leaking and that you don’t have extra water spraying onto the sidewalk. Other than wasting precious water, you can be fined up to $500 for sprinkler runoff in Redwood City.
By watering your lawn too often, the roots stay shallow because they can get all the water they need close to the surface of the soil. To help your lawn survive a drought you want the roots to search for water deeper in the soil.
Delta Bluegrass Co. suggests watering your lawn deeply just once a week with the following irrigation cycle: water your lawn, then wait 15-30 minutes for the soil to drain, then water again. This will help push the water deep into the soil, increasing the drought tolerance of your turf. They also recommend watering between 2am and 5am.
Plant Native Grasses
If you like to have a patch of lawn, but want to cut back on water, consider planting native grasses. Many don’t need to be watered in a normal rainfall year. An added bonus: they only need to be mowed once or twice a year. Consider one of these options:
- California Meadow Sedge (carex pansa)
- Berkeley Sedge (carex divulsa)
- Creeping Red Fescue (festuca rubra)
- Native Bentgrass (agrostis pallens)
Add Mulch to the Soil
Mulching is one the best ways to keep soil moist, insulate roots from extreme temperatures, and cut down on weeding. When you think of mulch, most people think of cut tree bark, but it can be anything that protects the soils surface and allows air and water to pass through.
Mulch can be organic material such as tree bark, straw, compost, or even nut shells. Organic mulches will add nutrients and enrich the soil as they break down. You can also use inorganic mulches such as decomposed granite, small rocks, or tumbled glass.
Before applying mulch, determine the square footage you’ll want to cover and the type of mulch you’ll be using. The smaller or denser the mulch particles are, the less you’ll need. For fine bark mulch, apply 2-3 inches. For larger bark mulch 4-5 inches should do it. When applying mulch, take care to keep it a few inches away from tree trunks and plant stems. If mulch is placed too closely to plants, it will retain too much moisture and can cause plants to rot.
Go Alternative and Replace the Lawn
If it's time for a change and you’re thinking about new landscaping, it might be a great time to replace your lawn altogether with an inviting low-water alternative. Beautiful landscapes can be created by choosing plants well adapted to Northern California’s climate and weather cycles.
We'd love to hear how you are keeping up your yard and saving water! Share in the comments below. And be sure to join us next week for the first in a three-part series on replacing a lawn with low-water alternatives.