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Overwatering Is Out

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Watering Your Garden in the Summer: Q&A with Maureen, Professional Gardener

Under the canopy of a California Friendly garden, I chatted with Maureen Taylor, a California native gardener and landscape designer, to find out the best ways to care for a California Friendly garden during a hot summer. Below are some gardening tips she shared with me that can help many Southern California residents:

Gnorman: How often should I water my garden over the summer?

Maureen: Gardeners should be adaptable and adjust their watering according to the weather to mimic how nature waters plants. Because it’s summertime, it’s natural to think that you have to water your plants more. But most California Friendly plants have adapted to drier conditions during the summer. Some species, such as oaks, are especially sensitive and can die from overwatering during a heat wave. To prevent this, check weather forecasts and water before a heat wave. Always water during the coolest time of the week. Watering during extreme heat can lead to fungus or even plant death!

Gnorman: How do I know when my plants need more water?

Maureen: Always check to make sure the soil is dry. You can test the moisture level of the soil by digging a little or using a soil moisture sensor (rebate for OC residents available here) to see if you have watered enough. If the soil is almost dry, it’s time to water again. The goal is to make sure water penetrates down to a foot or so when watering.

Gnorman: What else should I know about maintaining a California Friendly garden over the summer?

Maureen: Remember, summer in Southern California is the harshest season for plants. Gardeners should lay low, not plant anything new, and help plants get through their dormant season. Wait until the weather cools down so you can get back to planting and pruning.

Bonus Tip: Mulch is a multitasking tool that can help protect our waterways by preventing runoff while, at the same time, keeping plant roots cool during hot times. Mulch also conserves soil moisture, prevents weeds, and reduces soil erosion. You can find great deals on mulch through CalRecycle’s directory of Compost and Mulch Facilities.  Who knew mulch could do so much?

Thanks Maureen for the expert advice!

 

Maureen received her B.A. in Environmental Studies/Biology from UC Santa Cruz. After graduating she was hired by the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers and Native Plants, which expanded her love for nature into the realm of native gardening. Maureen now operates her own landscape maintenance and design business for clients in Southern California. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and making nature-inspired art.

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 

In 2016, the award for most beautiful garden goes to…

Congratulations to the 2016 winners of our “Drought, Camera, Action!” photo contest!

The wait is over gneighbors! Here are Orange County’s most beautiful drought tolerant photos:

READ MORE »

The October Guide to Free Gardening Classes

Hello Gneighbors,

Fall is a spectacular time to garden in Orange County. To help boost your gardening skills, here is a list of the top  FREE gardening classes happening in Orange County this month:

That’s not it. Check the full calendar listing here. Now go out and meet other gneighbors and let’s garden Orange County together!

-Gnorman

Help your Garden Survive the Drought!

If you are looking for a fun and free activity this weekend that is also family-friendly, look no farther than the Orange County Garden Friendly events being held this weekend! Both events are happening this Saturday from 8 am to 12 noon at partnering Home Depot locations.

ocgf event photo

At the event you can learn how to save water and stop overwatering with California Friendly plants. Even better news, after you get inspired, you can pick up some California Friendly plants and get them in the ground the same day so that they have time to establish those roots before next summer!

Find out which event is closest to you and I’ll see you there!

Home Depot
20021 Lake Forest Drive
Lake Forest, CA(on Lake Forest Drive & Rancho Parkway)
Home Depot
5800 Lincoln Ave
Cypress, CA(on Lincoln Ave and Valley View St)

 

Get Fit By Hand

We’re still in the rainy season which means cooler days and less sun (in addition to the occasional rain shower). That means your plants and turf grass also require less water! If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to add a little exercise to your life, try turning off your automated sprinklers and watering by hand.
READ MORE »

Study Up For Spring

If you’re like me, you’re already getting that Spring itch and thinking about your garden. We’ve already covered a few easy steps you can take to start going California Friendly, but what if you want more? A lot more? READ MORE »

Going Friendly in 6 Steps

We’re still in the winter season, but it is never too early to start planning for how you’re going to stop overwatering all next summer! One of the best ways to do that is by reducing how much water your garden needs by planting California Friendly plants. The best time to do *that* is in the fall and winter when the temperatures are cooler and rain is more likely. READ MORE »

Covering New Ground with Ground Cover

Covering exposed soil is absolutely critical to locking moisture in and giving plants a chance to establish a strong network of roots. Our go to recommendation is typically mulch because it is quick, cheap, and effective. READ MORE »

3 Ways to Build a Beautiful California Friendly Garden

Autumn is the perfect season to start a California Friendly garden. The soil is still warm, which helps the root system of young plants grow healthy and strong, and the outdoor temperature turns cooler, putting less stress on the new plantings. Even better, fall is water-wise—shorter days, milder temperatures, and the occasional rain shower means you won’t need to water as often!
READ MORE »

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