The Southern California Friendly Garden combines the beauty of native and California-friendly plants with efficient water use outdoors. Are you following the basic principles of water wise landscaping in your garden?
- Use less-than-thirsty plants in your garden. Keep turf grass (the thirstiest plant of all!) to a minimum. Look for plants that are well-suited to regional and local conditions.
- Group plants thoughtfully. When selecting trees, shrubs, ground covers, perennials and annuals for your garden, look for those that naturally grow together and use about the same amount of water.
- Use water wisely. Water plants only when needed, not by the clock or calendar. Water at night, when evaporation is much lower and air is calmer. Avoid runoff and overspray.
- Improve your soil. Routinely cultivate your soil, incorporating organic matter such as compost. Doing so improves the soil’s ability to resist evaporation and retain moisture. Aerate heavy or compacted soil around trees.
- Mulch. A two- to four-inch layer of mulch also evens out temperature extremes, keep soil cool on hot days and warm on cool days. It also prevents soil from crusting, allowing better water penetration. Take a cue from nature and choose one of many organic mulches that add great visual texture to your landscape, such as shredded bark or chips, wood grindings, compost, aged sawdust or even low-growing ground cover. Inorganic mulches, such as gravel or rock, let the most water in and are frequently used with plants susceptible to crown rot.
- Plant trees. Trees help to lower air and soil temperatures, reducing plant and soil moisture loss.
- Group container plants. Arrange containers so they shade one another. During droughts or periods of drying winds, place them in the deepest shade they can tolerate. Wet the entire rootball; double pot by setting small pots inside larger ones with a layer of sand or gravel between. Top-dress pots with a layer of mulch over the soil.