Regular maintenance of a landscape will keep it looking good while being resource efficient. By working on small maintenance tasks on a continuous basis the larger tasks should be limited. Here are some routine maintenance tasks* that will help your garden look great while being water-wise:
- Check the irrigation system frequently for leaks, broken sprinklers, and clogged emitters; repair with the correct parts.
- Adjust the sprinklers as needed. If water runs off the landscaped area before the irrigation cycle is complete, adjust the timer to run several times with a shorter duration each time. For example, instead of running it for 15 minutes continuously, adjust the timer to run three times that day for 5 minutes each time, with an interval in between to let the water soak in.
This is especially important on slopes and high traffic areas.
- Check the soil moisture depth with a soil probe or large screwdriver. If you use a screwdriver, push it into the soil until you feel resistance. That is the approximate depth of where the soil is dry. If the moisture extends well below the root zone cut back on the water somewhat by shortening the time of an irrigation cycle or adding more time between cycles.
- Observe how a decrease in water affects the landscape and make adjustments as needed.
- Refresh the mulch layer in the spring.
- Prune only when necessary to shape the plant or remove dead or diseased parts.
- If fertilizer is necessary, use a balanced fertilizer, avoiding high nitrogen mixtures that will cause excessive growth and could impact groundwater quality.
- When you mow, "grasscycle" the clippings. The clippings left behind on the grass will break down without causing a buildup of thatch.
- Aerate lawns occasionally to improve water infiltration.
- In times of drought, deep soak shrubs and trees only after they show signs of water stress, and water only in off peak hours. If a drought becomes severe, Vallecitos may ask customers to stop watering their lawns, but any trees planted in lawn areas will still need an occasional soaking to survive. Deep soak these trees as you would any other tree in the landscape by drip, bubbler or garden hose.
If your garden is comprised of mostly water-efficient plants, the landscape can be sustained on minimal irrigation through a drought and should be able to recover when water conditions improve. You will also receive satisfaction knowing you are doing your part in solving California’s real water challenge.
*Tasks obtained from the State of California Department of Water Resources.
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Maintenance can be done by the homeowner, performed by a contractor or other specialist who is licensed and/or certified, where applicable. To find a licensed contractor go to the California Landscape Contractors Association website.To see more landscape maintenance tips, click here.