Overwatering Is Out

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News & Articles

Dog Owners: The One Action That Makes a Difference

In the movies, you’ve seen monsters lurking in storm drains, waterways and oceans. Well, in Orange County, we have a monster that is causing real havoc: dog poo!

It’s time to talk about a serious issue lurking in Orange County’s storm drains, waterways and oceans: dog poo!

Dog poo is a hodgepodge of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that can harm the health of our local waterways and the beauty of our beaches. That’s why as a responsible dog owner, it is crucial that you ALWAYS pick up after your pet.

If left on the ground, dog poo can travel into the storm drain when it rains or can be picked up by sprinkler runoff. As it decays in the water, it depletes oxygen levels and can release ammonia, which not only reduces the quality of our oceans, but hurts fish and other aquatic organisms.

Luckily for us, defeating this storm drain monster is easy! Putting pet waste in the trash using plastic bags is the preferred method for disposing of doggie waste.

Until you can teach your dog to pick up after himself or herself, be the responsible dog owner that Orange County needs and clean up after your dog.

7 Simple Tips to Make Your Yard an Ocean Friendly Garden

Hello Gneighbors,

The warmth of summer has arrived! Thankfully, Orange County is blessed with postcard-perfect beaches for all our gneighbors to enjoy.

Did you know that a California Friendly yard is also an Ocean Friendly yard? Every time you stop overwatering or use less fertilizer or pesticides on California Friendly yards, you are helping to reduce the amount of pollutants and bacteria entering our local waterways. By preventing this harmful runoff, you are also working to maintain the beauty and health of Orange County’s beaches.

SurfRider, a national organization dedicated to the protection of the oceans, echoes this statement: “The best way to protect our waterways is through a more natural landscape that supports a diversity of native plants and mimics and supports nature rather than harming it. Instead of maintaining water-thirsty turf lawns and adding chemicals to force them to be green, you can take steps to make your yard an Ocean Friendly Garden” (Herzog 2016).

Here are 7 simple tips to make your garden an Ocean Friendly garden.

  • Water your lawn by hand or adjust sprinklers to avoid overwatering
  • Sweep the driveway instead of using a hose
  • Read and follow the application directions of fertilizers closely
  • Do not over-apply pesticides
  • Pull weeds by hand instead of using weed-killer chemicals
  • Always pick up after your dog. Read 10 reasons why here.
  • Sweep yard clippings out of the street to avoid causing algal blooms as they decompose in the storm drains

Now that you know how to keep our oceans clean, I want to hear from you. What’s your favorite Orange County beach? Head to our Facebook page to share and make the pledge to maintain an Ocean Friendly garden!


P.S. Take our poll and share with us your favorite Orange County Beach!


Photo Credit: Robbie Morris, Laguna Beach
Herzog, Paul. “Making the Connection between How We Care for Our Yard and the Health of Our Local Waterways.” Surfrider Foundation. N.p., 13 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 June 2017.

How-To: Prepare Your Soil for California Friendly Plants

California Friendly plants have different soil needs than typical lawns or garden plants. So what are some steps to ensure your new garden will be healthy? Here are three suggestions:

  • DON’T Amend Your Soil!
    California Friendly plants are accustomed to the soil as it is and typically do not need fertilizer. Incidentally, a major benefit of growing California Friendly plants is that they reduce the amount of fertilizer entering our local waterways. So do your wallet, our waterways, and your plants a favor and don’t add amendments.
  • But DO Mulch!
    Mulching can save your plants! Not only will it prevent water loss, but mulching prevents the growth of weeds which can destroy a newly planted California Friendly garden. Be sure to use the correct kind of mulch and at an even thickness. Below are some options on what to use and the best way to use them.

    Shredded bark: Slow to decompose and excellent at weed prevention. Be sure to apply 2 to 3 inches thick.
    Cut bark: This is a good all-purpose option and looks very neat and clean. For smaller sized chips, only 2 to 3 inches thick will do while larger sized chips require 4 to 5 inches.
    Decomposed granite: Excellent for Southwest- or Mediterranean-inspired gardens, decomposed granite compacts quickly and does not blow away easily. Hand weed if weeds do pop up. Apply 1 to 2 inches thick.

    When applying mulch, leave a few inches of clearance around tree trunks and the stems of plants. If the mulch is too close, it can retain water around the trunk and cause rotting. Make sure to maintain an even layer of mulch to provide enough coverage throughout the year.

  • Watch Your Plants to Accommodate Their Watering Needs
    Drought tolerant plants are not drought tolerant immediately. Until the plant is established, you may need to add extra water (unless there is rain). Keep an eye on your plants and if they look stressed, they may need more water. This close monitoring of your plants can take a whole growing season.

    Additionally, California Friendly plants are naturally tough once they are established and tend to resist pests. However, if they do get pests, check out this website and use their plant problem diagnostic tool.

    *Photo Credit: Diana Tran from Anaheim 

A Field of Wildflowers. . . At Your Front Door!

With news of the recent super bloom happening across California, why not bring home a bit of wildflower color to your own home? Wildflowers can grow in the most unlikely places: along freeways, in the cracks of sidewalks, and in your own yard! All you need are some wildflower mix, a sunny day and the 4 steps below to get started:

  1. Find an area where the seeds will get to the ground easily. Scattering seeds atop mulch will not work. Gnorman recommends placing seeds along sandy patches or the space between other plants.
  2. Rake the wildflower seeds in lightly. This is more to confuse the birds than to bury the seed. Wildflowers prefer to be scattered about and not buried; it’s how the seed was designed.
  3. If it doesn’t rain, water weekly until the wildflowers begin to rise and form buds. If it rains that week, do not worry about watering.
  4. At the end of the season, feel free to mow the plants after they have produced and released seeds. This will allow the seeds to stay dormant in your yard over the summer and winter, and then return again next spring!

To keep up with the Overwatering is Out movement and prevent runoff, please only use natives for wildflowers since they can spread easily! If you accidentally use something invasive, it will be incredibly difficult to get rid of. Please read the full list of what is in the bag of seed mix to ensure there are no filler species. Ask your local nursery if you are unsure or send an email to

Here is a starter list of California Friendly species to look for in seed mixes.

  • Eschscholzia californica California Poppy
  • Lotus scoparius Deer Weed
  • Lupinus bicolor Miniature Lupine
  • Lupinus hirsutissimus Nettle Lupine
  • Lupinus nanus Sky Nettle
  • Nemophila menziesii Baby Blue Eyes
  • Nemophila maculata Five Spot
  • Oenothera elata Yellow Evening Primrose
  • Eriophyllum confertiflorum Golden Yarrow
  • Collinsia heterophylla Chinese Houses
  • Sisyrinchium bellum Blue-eyed Grass
  • Baileya multiradiata Desert Marigold
  • Linum lewisii Blue Flax
  • Penstemon centranthifolius Scarlet Bugler
  • Mimulus puniceus Bush Monkeyflower
  • Sphaeralcea ambigua Apricot Mallow

How to Attract Hummingbirds to the Yard

Hummingbirds are welcome visitors to many gardens, but can be challenging to attract.  Here are 11 plant recommendations and strategies to invite these beautifully vibrant visitors into your garden:

Plants: Birds have naturally fast metabolisms so plants that produce many flowers will make the trip worth it for hummingbirds because the food supply will be large enough to feed them.  Plants with long tubular flowers and within the red color range are especially prized by hummingbirds. Excellent plant choices include the California Fuschia and the Hummingbird Sage. Other plants that are favored by hummingbirds are:

  • Coral Bells
  • Monkeyflower
  • Coyote Mint
  • Bush Snapdragon
  • Penstemon
  • Cleveland, Autumn and Summer Sage
  • Baja Fairy Duster
  • Wooly Blue Curls
  • For a vine, try native honeysuckle

Water:  A bird bath or small source of trickling water will make your yard a complete habitat for hummingbirds!  

Expect to see some hummingbirds visiting your garden soon!  

Plants, Camera, Action! Photo Contest

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Hi Gneighbors,

Have you taken action to save water and reduce runoff in the yard? Don’t miss out on the chance to win incredible prizes for your home and garden. Join Gnorman’s photo contest and help us encourage other Orange County residents to prevent water pollution and keep our local waterways clean! We are calling for submissions for: 

  • Most Beautiful Photo of a California Friendly™ Plant
  • Most Beautiful Photo of a California Friendly™ Landscape

Prizes include: 

  • One 90 minute Landscape Consultation with Rob Moore at Cal Native Landscape Design, valued at $250.
  • “Never Ending Paradise” eco-friendly 30×40 signed print by Jessica Cardelucci, featuring a wave breaking at sunset at the Wedge in Newport Beach, valued at $750. It’s printed on bamboo matte paper and framed in a handmade and whitewashed bamboo-ply frame.
  • A $100 gift card to the Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano
  • Plus, all winners will have their photo appear in the OC Register!
The last day to submit your photograph is May 16, 2017.


4 Free Events to Help Your Gardening This Spring


OC Garden Friendly Events

Why not sharpen your gardening skills at an upcoming local event? OC Garden Friendly has partnered with various home improvement stores throughout Orange County to hold outdoor plant sales complete with local experts on water-efficient landscaping, vendor displays, and special discounts on plants that are ideal for Southern California. Don’t miss out on these FREE OC Garden Friendly events happening at a Home Depot location near you:

All events are from 9 am to 1 pm. For more information click here.

Plant of the Month: California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)


California’s State Flower!

Welcome gneighbors to a new column featuring the beauty and resilience of California Friendly Plants – Gnorman’s Plant Corner!

It seems fitting for a new series of articles featuring California friendly plants to begin with California’s own state flower – the California Poppy. This California native wildflower is sometimes called “the cup of gold” due to its bright flower that can be three inches across and fades from a yellow edge to a deep orange gold in the center. The striking flower can also be red and blooms from February to October although you will see them mostly from March to May. California Poppies grow to about 1.5 feet tall and will not interfere with any current perennial plantings you have. It is a self-seeding annual plant (lasts only one growing season) and will grow in poor soil conditions as long as it is well draining soil. Conveniently, the beautiful native flower is found in most wildflower seed mixes as they are easy to plant and germinate. Show some California pride this spring and spread a poppy and wildflower mix wherever you want blooms and rake over to lightly cover. They look beautiful along walkways, or in narrow areas, or even across your lawn! If the soil drains well and the area receives a lot of sunshine, you will have poppies pop up by spring time.

Gardening Lessons for the Rainy Weather

It’s been raining in Orange County gneighbors! There are several actions you can take now in the garden to take advantage of the rain while protecting your garden from the the cool, damp weather.

Here are some tips to get you ready for spring:

  • For perennials (plants that last more than one growing season or year) soil drainage is key for the rainy weather.  Make sure that new plants are not in standing water and that the roots can breathe, or they will die quickly.

  • Transform the rain into a resource for spring gardening. Here’s how to to place and maintain a rain barrel.  Claim your rain barrel rebate at

  • The wet weather keeps the ground damp, putting your plants at risk of fungal problems. Keep the ground clear of dying plant materials to prevent fungal diseases.

Are you new to planting California Friendly plants and don’t know where to begin? Go big and consider removing your lawn! With the cool weather, now is the time to kill your lawn. Check out this article to get started on removing your lawn. Imagine, by this time next year you can harness the rain to begin showing the lush California Friendly garden of your dreams!

3 Water-Saving Resources for 2017

Welcome to a beautiful new 2017! Last year, over 2,500 Orange County residents took some kind of action to stop overwatering their yards and prevent water pollution in their communities. If you are receiving this newsletter, congratulations! You can count yourself as a member of the Orange County Overwatering is Out movement.

Polish up your garden, yard, or landscape in 2017 with these three water saving resources that can save you time and money:

BONUS: Claim your FREE yard sign and/or sticker for saving water in the yard.

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