The Drought is Over?! What now?
Here in Northern California the rain totals have been record breaking and in some cases epic. The snow pack in the Sierras is approaching 200% of Normal for a season and we are not done. This is all great news for the farmers, fisheries, industry and homeowners. But what does it really mean? Is the drought really over?
Do we still need to conserve water?
Is the Drought Over….?
Is the drought really over? The state water board has stated that in a majority of California the drought is over. But is it? Does one season of rain end five years of drought? Just as one season of less than normal rainfall constitute a drought? Some meteorologist are optimistic, yet cautious, to say the drought is over until a foreseeable rainfall pattern occurs (meaning more than just one season). So the question becomes, what does this mean for our daily lives and landscape?
Should we continue to Conserve Water?
Yes! Conservation of water is still very important for a these reasons.
- Water is still our most precious resource and wasting is just plain irresponsible.
- Our states water storage system is inadequate and has not kept up with the population growth. Not to mention our water storage and delivery systems are aging and in need of repair.
- The next drought may start next year or five years from now, no-one really knows.
- We have lost portions of Aquifers due to over pumping of ground water during this past drought. These Aquifers have collapsed and that underground water storage capacity is gone forever.
Water and your Landscape
Still choosing water wise plant material and irrigating efficiently will have the biggest impact on your water use. Also choosing the right plant material will have a profound impact on your local environment and the overall health of your garden. A big plus to “drought tolerant” plant material is generally it is also low maintenance. There are many low water use plants suitable for most of the North Bay region and beyond including great habitat plants that attract Bees, Butterflies, Birds and many other beneficial critters to your garden landscape.
A few of our favorites
Sage / Salvia’s are very drought tolerant and will attract pollinating Bees. Often very showy blooms, very fragrant and a beautiful texture.
- Rudbeckia hirta, common name black-eyed Susan is a great flowering “Daisy” like perennial that is a med water use plant, but can stand periods of drought. Many Butterfly varieties are attracted as well as pollinating Bees. The Daisy like pedals are yellow with a center black / dark cone.
- Ceanothus also known as a California Lilac are available in many varieties including ground covers, shrubs and small trees. Ceanothus not only provide a food source for pollinators, but they provide great cover and protection for birds. Considered a very important habitat plant that blooms a deep blue to a bluish purple and is very drought tolerant.
- Many other drought tolerant plants including, Sedums, Penstemons, Agave, Rosemary, Lavender, Blue Eyed Grass, Toyon, Rock Rose, Strawberry Tree, Swan Hill Olive, California Wild Grape… and many others.
Irrigation Technologies and Techniques
Combining drip irrigation techniques with weather based irrigation technology we are using far less water in our landscape.
- Best practices for applying drip irrigation to your plants requires the proper emitter size and using more than one drip emitter per plant (think wishbone with your emitters on the ends and your plant in the middle). This allows water to be focussed on at least two sides of the plant and will soak around the entire plant.
- Do not over water (Common Mistake)! Most perennials require about 10 +or- minuets of water per watering and typically more often, 3 to 5 days a week depending on the season. Shrubs and trees watering times should be longer but less often for deeper watering.
- Use a Weather Based irrigation controller that will make changes in your irrigation times for you. These systems are fairly easy to use and will cut your landscape water use by approximately 20%-25%. Weather based systems can be as simple as your own weather monitor on your property or a web based system that can be programmed and adjusted off site. This technology has become very affordable and is required by some municipalities.
Mulching is Very Important
- Mulch provides a layer of protection for your plants.
- Mulching will lock in moisture and lower water use.
- Mulch (most) will provide much needed nutrients to the plant.
- Wood Mulch is attractive and provides some weed protection.
It really is easy and very beautiful to continue to conserve water. There are many plant choices and irrigation technologies that enhance a low water use plants ability to save water.
For more information please call (707) 887-0140 or contact us here.