Sometimes in California’s drought, even winter can feel dry like summer. Dry weather means more playing in the yard and, of course, it also means even more yard maintenance.
But how do you successfully maintain a yard in the midst of California’s five year drought?
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 Concord, that amount was 25 percent of your 2013 water use. Since watering your lawn and garden also consumes a lot of water, restrictions were put on outdoor water usage.
Since the drought declaration, however, a heavier rainfall this past winter allowed some areas to ease the restrictions that had been put into place. In May of this year, the Contra Costa Water District Board of Directors voted to repeal some of the water restrictions that were put into place. Here are a few of the restrictions that were removed or amended:
- They have eliminated the mandatory conservation target that required residents to conserve 25 percent of their 2013 water usage.
- On June 4th, the district eliminated the “Drought Charge.”
- Outdoor watering is no longer restricted to just twice per week.
Of course, the district has kept the common sense water prohibitions in place such as watering outdoor landscapes so heavily that it produces excessive water runoff and watering your lawn or garden within 48 hours of precipitation. For complete list of prohibited water uses, go to the district’s website here. This website also contains great information on how best to conserve water.
Also included are lots of great tips on how to keep your lawn and garden looking nice without using a large amount of water. Here is the link to the district’s lawn and garden care information packet: http://www.ccwater.com/DocumentCenter/View/2196.
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.
- Group plants with similar watering needs into the same area of the yard or garden.
Perhaps the most important word to the home gardener who wants their yard to look great but also be conservation-friendly, xeriscaping involves planting 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 keep your yard water-conservation friendly while also maintaining its beauty. But don’t take our word for it, contact the Contra Costa Water District and let them come to your home and give you a free water home water survey. And while they are there, they would be happy to go over some of your options for having a lawn or garden that you can be proud of and that does not waste water. We call that win-win!