Summer is winding down in Los Angeles, but the heat in our town tends to stick around into the fall, so it’s still a great time to think about how heat should change our gardening habits. Want to conserve water while keeping your garden thriving? Read on for five great tips!
1. Remember this phrase: Deeper roots, healthier plants.
While it’s important to water your garden consistently during heat waves, it’s best to water your garden less frequently. You might be thinking that sounds a little counterintuitive, but it’s not. Watering your plants long and hard (that means giving them a really good soaking) will send the water deeper into the ground, not only encouraging root growth but preventing water loss to evaporation. The further down in the soil, the cooler the temperatures are and the more water hangs around. You may need to water newly planted plants more frequently than established plants, but the general rule applies: watering deeply achieves the end result of saving water.
Think you’ll be busy this month? Try these tips to keep your plants alive while you’re away or ask a neighbor to lend a hand…just remember to have them read this article first!
2. Timing matters, avoid the heat!
Watering your plants at the hottest time of the day is for water wasters! At high noon, your plant is going to be fighting the evaporation power of the sun for any water that you put on the ground. It’s best to water your plants in the early morning before the full intensity of the sun is on them so that less water evaporates and more of it seeps towards the roots where your plants actually need it. If you don’t have time in the morning, it’s also ok to give them a good soaking in the evening.
3. Mulch it up!
Newer gardeners might think mulch is prettier than dirt (it is) but we love to tell them about all of the other reasons that we love mulch at LA Stormwater. Mulch creates a barrier between the ground and the hot air, keeping moisture in the soil and around the roots of your plants, and preventing water loss from evaporation due to heat. But the benefits of mulch doesn’t stop there! When mulch is organic, it also helps to improve your soil quality as this material decomposes, leaving nutrients that can eliminate the need for fertilizer. You can find free mulch here.
4. Save water and money with a rain barrel.
It is never too early to start thinking ahead. It’s going to be winter again in a few months and even though Southern California doesn’t always give us as much rain as we might like, getting a rain barrel is easier and smarter than you might think! Rain barrels come in different shapes and sizes and can be installed by you, at home, with generous rebates that significantly cut the cost. There’s also this: rain barrels (along with larger cisterns and green infrastructure) help keep our rivers, creeks, and oceans clean by reducing runoff that picks up pollution and enters local waterways when it rains.
5. Think ahead and replace your turf!
Landscaping might seem like a big project to embark on, but the benefits are numerous and you can do it cheaply with this rebate. Consider replacing your turf with sustainable landscaping that includes plants native to California and features like a rain barrel to capture water and below ground (or mulch) drip irrigation on a timer that only waters in the morning. Over the long term, this landscaping will help to promote water use reduction, lower rainwater runoff, increase biodiversity, and beautify your home and neighborhood!
Questions about tending to your yard this summer? Drop us a line in the comments!