Right-sizing your Garden and Saving Water
By Deana Rae McMillion, Garden Enthusiast and Master Gardener
Right-sizing our gardens in order to reduce water usage is imperative. Just taking out your lawn isn’t necessarily the answer. Many people who do remove their lawns aren’t doing the necessary research and are planting water thirsty plants or invasive plants that use more water or rob their soil of nutrients.
If it seems overwhelming to remove your entire lawn, one thing you can do to save water is let it go brown. In this severe drought the most important thing to save are our valuable trees. But why not look at this as an opportunity to right-size your garden and plantings? California is a summer dry climate and that is not going to change even when the drought is over.
11 Ways to Conserve Water in Your Santa Barbara County Home Landscapes
- Select water-efficient plants that grow well in your climate and microclimate.
- Be hyper-aware of plant selection and be sure not to choose invasive plant species
- Hydrozones: Place plants with similar water needs together and irrigate them accordingly (high, medium, low, and very low zones).
- Let roots of established plants dry out between irrigations, water deeply and infrequently slightly below the root zone.
- If you do not use or enjoy your lawn consider replacing it with drought-tolerant plants. If you decide to keep your lawn – water it based on University of California’s “Drought Irrigation Tips”
- Mix soil amendments (compost, etc.) evenly and deeply into sandy and clay soils (40% or more by volume) before planting.
- Spread a 2-3” layer of mulch on top of the soil around garden plants and trees.
- Water early in the morning.
- Control weeds.
- Avoid over-fertilizing.
- Sweep walkways and driveways; do not hose them down with water.
Have a home landscape or gardening question? Contact the Santa Barbara County Master Gardener Helpline at 805-893-3485 or email [email protected].
Please allow 3-4 business days for a response as the Master Gardener helpline is staffed by volunteers. Please be as detailed as you can in your query when leaving a message. Photographs are also helpful in our responding to your gardening concern.
Santa Barbara Master Gardener Program
California Garden Web: Drought Gardening Tips
Plant Right: Home Gardeners