Summer is around the corner and that means more playing in the yard and, of course, it also means even more yard maintenance. But how do you successfully maintain a yard that when all of California is still dealing with a major drought that has being going on for nearly five years now? After Gov. Jerry Brown enacted the California State of Emergency in 2014, most cities were required to cut their water usage by roughly 25 percent. In the case of the City of Sacramento, that amount was 30 percent. Not only that, but even heavier restrictions were put on outdoor water usage and that included watering lawns and gardens. Outdoor watering is limited to 2 times per week in the summer in Sacramento.
So, what to do? To start, you can go to the website here: https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Utilities/Conservation for all kinds of great information about water conservation and tips of maintaining a lawn during a drought (we’ll get to more about that further down the blog). You can also find out more about rebates and other services that the city offers by going here: https://www.cityofsacramento.org/Utilities/Conservation/Water-Conservation-Services. Some of the great gardening tips include:
- Always maintain a 2-4 inch layer of mulch on top of your soil as a way to keep as much moisture in the ground as possible.
- Also, be sure to mix compost 6” into your soil to help retain water.
- If possible, use drip irrigation as this allows water to go directly to the roots without as much waste as other types of watering.
- If you do use sprinklers, be sure to adjust them so that they aren’t watering the sidewalk or other unnecessary areas.
- Water in the late evening hours or early in the morning when temperatures are cooler and there is less possibility of evaporation.
- Group plants with similar watering needs into the same area of the yard or garden.
- If you plan to drain your water heater, capture the water in 5 gallon buckets and let it cool. Then use it to water your plants.
- You can also capture the excess hot water in your shower in 5 gallon buckets and let it cool, then use it to water your house plants or outdoor plants.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Perhaps the most important word to the home gardener who wants their yard to look great but also be conservation-friendly is: xeriscaping. Basically, xeriscaping involves plants that use little water and are drought-resistant. It is also very helpful if these plants are native to the area and are used to existing off the amount of water available naturally, whether from the ground or from the rain. And, no, xeriscaping does not necessarily mean that your lawn will have to look like a desert scene. There are plenty of colorful and lush plants that are available that won’t break your water budget. Go to this website for some very good information about xeriscaping and how to best design a drought-resistant lawn and garden: http://www.landscapingnetwork.com/landscape-design/xeriscape.html.
As you can see, there is plenty of good information out there to help you transform your yard into a bastion of water conservation while also maintaining its beauty, you just have to look. And, as we mentioned earlier, the City of Sacramento is not only there to send out water bills, they are also very helpful when it comes to identifying areas around your home where you can save more water as well as give great tips for your yard. Finally, if you see water being wasted or any kind of leak that you feel should be reported, call 311. Water waste is too important to assume someone else has reported it.