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Overwatering Is Out

Keep water in the yard, not the sidewalk.

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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.

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:

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I am no longer asking you to save water…

Gnorman says hello to Orange County
Gnorman’s personal letter to Orange County:

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Orange County: We’re Saving Water and Fighting the Drought!

Gnorman here bringing good news to you and your Orange County gneighbors!

Thanks to the California-wide effort to save water, officials have stated an overall 29% reduction of water use in May. I am proud to announce that Orange County has saved a collective 26% in comparison with May 2013! Congratulations gneighbors!

Here’s a special shoutout to Orange County’s second largest water district, the Santa Margarita Water District, which increased its savings from 3 percent to 18 percent in under a year. Furthermore, this summer, Santa Margarita will actively prevent overwatering by limiting outdoor watering to no more than 3 days and 36 minutes total per week. Gnorman heartily applauds their efforts.

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How can we help you reduce overwatering?

The title is not intended as rhetorical. Stopping overwatering is a great mixture of really simple (use an automatic shut off nozzle!) and really big (remove your turf grass) actions that, when done community wide, have a tremendous impact. Fortunately, there are a lot of medium actions in between like using a watering index or installing a rain barrel.

But even if it seems like there is something for everybody, maybe we haven’t hit that right tip for you. We’re eager to learn how we can better help all of the residents of Orange County stop overwatering and start finding sustainable solutions to beautify your outdoors while protecting the environment.

Share your thought in the comments below and we’ll pull together our team of experts to see how we can help you tackle your watering woes to make sure overwatering is out.

Or… Water Light when the Temps are Low

Last week we talked about just giving your turf grass and plants one good soak per week while the temperatures are low and the sun less intense. That is great advice, but it won’t work for all homes especially if you have clay soil or steep hills where a good soak means a lot of overwatering.

Fear not, there’s a solution for you too and that solution is (almost) just as easy.

The trick? Water in “spurts” (minimum 1 minute or up to 3 minutes max) a few times per week (as little as 1 to 3 times). This will give your turf grass and plants a lighter soak, but make sure your water isn’t escaping out into the streets.

Now, of course, the best news is that this water saving tip can get you Gnorman Approved. Head on over to the pledge page and you’ll have a yard sign faster than you can stop overwatering.

sign with ribbon
Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Watering Less when Temps are Low

Even though we’re coming up on the end of the rainy season, the temperatures are still low and the sun less intense. That means that your plants and turf grass are still basking in the shade and don’t require nearly as much watering as they did during the hot summer months.

Here’s a couple of super easy and quick tips to dramatically reduce overwatering:

  • Let your turf grass get a little longer. The longer blades will hold more water, and help establish deeper roots. All you have to do is raise your lawn mower a notch and mow a bit less often.
  • Water just once per week and water a little longer than normal—check with your water provider for maximum run times and don’t water so long as to cause runoff! Turf grass only needs to be watered one day per week during these cooler months and a deeper soak will also encourage deeper root growth which will come in handy during the summer.

That’s right—two easy tips that ask you to spend less time working outdoors and more time enjoying it.

The best news is that if you do these two simple things or decide to try even more, you can jump on over to our pledge page and get your FREE Gnorman Approved yard sign! It can head your way without delay!

sign with ribbon

 

Let me know how it goes in the comments below!

Dirty Cars and Clean Water

There are always a lot of dusty cars this time of year as sporadic rains, morning dew and nightly fogs leave a layer on everything. That inevitably leads to a nice, sunny day when people get the idea to wash their cars. You might not realize it, but washing your car is potentially a huge source of overwatering. Fortunately, there are some easy actions you can take to reduce overwatering and stop polluting.

THE GOOD

The best thing you can do is use a commercial car wash. Commercial car washes follow regulations to minimize potential pollution. They also have the best equipment to recycle water or minimize excessive water waste. When in doubt—go to the pros.

THE BAD

If you wash your car at home, don’t wash it on the driveway. The water quickly streams down to the stormdrain system and takes with it all the dirt, grime, and potentially harmful soaps. Instead, wash your car on gravel, grass, or other permeable surfaces. This slows the flow of water and pollutants and lets the ground act as a natural filter.

THE UGLY

Whatever you do, make sure to use hoses with nozzles that automatically turn off when left unattended. There is no excuse to let a hose spray freely when it is not being used. Using a nozzle saves up to 10 gallons per minute. That means that if it takes you just 20 minutes to wash your car, you’d be overwatering up to 200 gallons if you don’t use the right equipment!

Just like that, three easy actions you can take to stop overwatering.

  • If you’re going to wash your car, take it to the pros
  • If you’re washing it at home, wash it over a permeable surface so the water doesn’t go to waste or to the ocean
  • And whatever you do, make sure your hoses have an automatic shut off nozzle!

Where do you wash your car?

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.
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Watering with Cycle and Soak

Even if you reduce your watering for the cooler winter season, you might still notice a lot of your water running off your lawn and into the stormdrain system. Much of the soil throughout Orange County is clay-heavy, making it slow to absorb water. READ MORE »

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