Rain water in Southern California is a very precious resource. We usually only receive it during our winter months ( November through about Februry or March ) and in the past couple years, we have not really received that much rain at all.
Retaining rain water on-site is not only a wise move but it is also a great sustainable move too. By retaining rain water on-site by methods such as dry stream beds, rain barrels, and rain water gardens, we can keep that precious water on site and provide water for our landscapes plus reduce storm water run off and possible pesticide and herbicide pollution.
Rain gardens also provide useful needed environments for beneficial insects and bird habitats. By doing our part creating these gardens, this helps keep our ecosystem running smoothly.
You can create your own water garden by designing your current rain water down spout gutters to drain off the house into man-made bio-swale areas leading away from your home or business. The job is a lot easier to design when your down spouts lead down into an adjacent flower bed or grass area as it will be easier to design a natural, right sized, efficient water retention space . Go to your local nurseries, licensed landscape professionals and water supplier entities ( Who you pay your water bill to ) that provide needed supplies and information on where and how you can get help building your rain garden.
Also go to the Metropolitan Water Districts (MWD ) website: www.bewaterwise.com for more information on building water gardens and to learn more water thrifty and sustainable landscaping ideas at their informative website.
Did you know that there are a number of shrubs, ground covers, and trees that can be utilized within your landscape that will not only look fantastic but also give you back in return beneficial medicinal healing properties that have been known and used throughout history ?
I have been receiving quite a number of request for various landscape designs that incorporate natural, herbal, medicinal, and otherwise people and pet friendly plant choice's to beautify one's landscape. The use of shrubs like Rosemary, Lavander,and Roses have brought not only beauty to my client's landscape but medicinal value to their projects also.
I have listed what I call the " Simple 7" landscape shrubs,trees, and ground cover that is simple to grow and in most cases easy to grow in various climates within the United States and other parts of the globe.
Here is my list:
Aloe Vera: The gel from this plant is good for burns, wounds,dry skin, insect bites, and fungal infections, anemia, poor digestive function, and liver disorders.
Apple: Consume fresh apple slices for constipation, sour apples as a diuretic, infusions for rheumatic pains, feverish colds. The juice used undiluted or mixed with olive oil as a household standby for cuts and abrasions.
Lavender: Take the flowers and dry them in bunches covered with paper bags to harvest the flowerets as they fall. Also harvest towards the end of the flowering of the plant.
Applications include use as a essential oil, massage oil, and as a infusion for feverous exhaustion.
Mint: Infusion for nausea, travel sickness, indigestion, migraines.
As a wash for inflammation, repel mosquitoes, scabies.
As a massage oil for headaches, and fever.
Rose: Cream for dry or inflamed skin.
Lotion as a moisturizing lotion.
Rose hips for diarrhea, stomach weakness.
Massage oil to relieve stress and exhaustion.
Rosemary: As an essential oil, stimulant in feverous exhaustion.
As a massage oil for aching joints and muscles.For the scalp for hair growth. and around the temples for headaches.
Yarrow: Use as an infusion wash for eczema, inhalation for hay fever and mild asthma. As a poultice for cuts and grazes. As a compress, infusion of diluted tincture to soothe varicose veins.
As you can see, there are many beneficial uses of numerous commonly used landscaping plants, shrubs, and trees that will not only provide you with years of horticultural beauty, but also with years of beneficial medicinal uses.
* I researched the excellent book by Penelope Ody " The Complete Medicinal Herbal" to obtain my above mentioned information
One of the unique products we use in our installations of California native and water conserving landscapes is Ecologel Solutions HYDRETAIN ES PLIUS.
This amazing moisture management product helps MIDWEST LANDSCAPING reduce plant transplant shock and avoid overwatering of the plants that by their natural growth habits, do not require a lot of water once established.
HYDRETAIN ES PLUS is a root zone moisture management product that effectively reduces the over-all watering requirements of plants, shrubs, trees, turf, and agriculture as much as 50% or more.
The product is a propriety blend of the patented HYDRETAIN SOIL MOISTURE MANAGEMENT technology enhanced with an advanced naturally served soil surfactant. When used in combination the synergistic technologies provide positive water conservation and drought stress reduction through efficient subsurface soil moisture management.
Also in addition to reducing the overall water requirements . HYDRETAIN ES PLUS works to provide the proper soil moisture needed to maximize the effectiveness of most fertilizer products.
HYDRETAIN ES PLUS comes in a 40 lb. granular form or a 16 oz. hose end application bottle.
1/Gallon bottles of the HYDRETAIN can also be obtained by contacting us at ( firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone direct: (562) 755-9914.
BIOGRADABLE - ECO-FRIENDLY - CHILD & PET FRIENDLY - EFFECTIVE - ECONOMICAL
The important task of supplying needed water to your landscape plants and trees becomes very critical in the hot summer months we are experiencing. With the craze in installing 'drought friendly' and 'water conserving' plants and trees, some people forget that even though those plants and trees that are quote 'Water Friendly' some of those plants and trees do need a application or a drink of water from time to time to maintain their health and sustain their lives out in this extremely heated months of the year.
By first grouping the plant and trees in proper design configurations within your landscape you will be able to benefit from using the correct plant for the correct zone. Sun loving plants just do not do well in north facing project areas and vice versa for shade plants in a overly sunny spot around your home or business. There are many other resources that will help assist you in selecting the correct plant or tree for the various zones in and around your home or business and let me suggest you check out the Tree of Life website at www.californativeplantys.com for those of you who live here in California. For those in other parts of the country, please link to your local county extensions and water supplier websites and I am sure they will be able to assist you.
Watering Times: It is best early in the mornings when the soil is cooler and it can naturally dry out doing the day as to prevent possible fungus damage from damp, dark evening time watering which is prime breeding ground for water borne diseases. In the desert zones you can get away with more of your evening into night watering because of the lower humidity rates but by watering in the early morning hours you are safe with not possibly getting fungus challenges.
How Much : A good rule of thumb is at to at least 1" of water per week. Deep soakings of the water help develop strong deep rooting systems for your plants and trees. By using a soil probe which you can obtain from a quality nursery or online or by simply sticking a pencil or screwdriver into the soil you can see at what depth the water you apply reaches. This simple monitoring system is really effective as some folks think that if it is dry on top of the soil, it must mean my plants need water. Not always true. Some soils hold more water in the ground than others because of the clay content of the soil vs sand content. Clay soils hold more water longer than sandy type soils. By using a soil probe, screwdriver or pencil to see at what depth you have moisture before and after a watering this can help you determine your watering application rate. Another great thing to do is have your soil tested to actually understand what type of soil you have. There is a simple soil texture test you can do yourself by going online and typing in 'soil texture test ' and you will come across a simple ribbon test to help you determine your soil type.
How often: Depending upon the soil type and what size plants you have, the first 1-3 months @ 1/gallon plant it is suggested you water 1-2 time per week. After 3-24 months 1-2 times per month ( some plants may still need more waterings ) After 24 months some plants will be naturalized and no supplemental water will be needed ( Most Calif. native plant groupings) and other plants will need supplemental waterings throughout their growing periods.
An occasional quick rinse or sprinkle in the early hours of the day is always a plus, and for your landscape trees deep water soakings of at least 1-2" 1-3 times per month of water is a great.
Drip irrigation is fantastic but ole fashion sprinkler system or micro-spray watering of your plant materials would be my choice for a more natural watering approach. I do not come across a lot of drip lines out in nature.
With these simple tips on plant selection, location, watering times and depths it is my hope that you will be able to not only establish your shrubs and trees be maintain their life spans for many years to come.
With the recent wild fires that have devastated many homes and lives here in Northern and Southern California, I thought it would be a great idea to pass along some basic landscaping rules for helping reduce fire damage at your home or business from a landscaping prospective.
Firescaping is very important for all homes that border any open space,including houses built along canyons, and this landscaping involves designing landscaping plant materials to help in protection from wildfires. A successful design plan for choosing 'Fire-resistant' plant materials involves breaking down the property in four zones.
Zone 1 ( 50 ft. closest to the home ) Moist & trim. Turf,ground covers,small perennials,and annual color. Water these plant regularly and avoid using plants with high resin content such as pines,junipers,cedars,eucalyptus,etc...
Zone 2. ( 51-100 feet ) Low & sparse. Slow growing,drought-tolerant shrubs and ground covers can be used to keep the fire at ground level. Use plant material with a naturally high moisture content such as succulents, and aloes.
Zone 3 (101-150 ft. ) High & clean. Trees can be installed inn this zone making sure their branches are at least 10 ft. away from the nearest tree and they should have no branches that are closer than 15 ft. from the ground.
Zone 4 ( 150 ft. and beyond ) Natural area. This area may not be landscaped but, it still should be well maintained maintenance wise with the trees thinned twice a year and all low branches, leaf litter. and dead plants & branches removed.
On slopes or windswept areas,increase the spacing of the plant materials,use colored rocks or stones for a mulch and avoid using bark or shredded dry mulch.
Use materials that is inorganic or inflammable such as flagstone,decomposed granite ( Very popular ) rocks & pebbles, artificial wood for decks and fences.
* There is a fire safe mulch that is available that includes an additional process with a fire resistant additive that we have available if you still plan to use shredded mulch. Contact me at our website comment section for more information on this product.
By taking into consideration the four firescaping zone suggestions, it is my hope this will help reduce the threat of fire devastation to your home or business.
Normally you would tend to avoid planting shrubs and other 'Water Thrifty' landscaping plant materials in the hotter season's of the year. June, July, August are not your prime planting months especially for plant materials which normally in their native growing habit, hardly ever get supplemental watering during these hot months. Here in Southern California, we get most of our rains in the winter months of October,November, December up through hopefully March and April of the following year. Most water conserving/thrifty plants,trees, and shrubs drink up during those months and create a sort of reserve for the hotter months to come. Succulents like Agave,Cactus, and Aloes have a much better survival rate than their less fleshly cousins and the survival rate is much higher when planting these varieties during the warmer months.
There are still many landscape rebate programs going on here in Southern California and with that there are 'Deadlines' to get the make overs completed. This leads to customers needing to finish their projects as soon as possible even if it means planting in the warmer months of summer.
One of the best tip I can pass on to you is to be sure when you do plant your trees and shrubs, make sure you hydrate the hole for the plant with water and if possible mix within that backfill water some Moisture Manager water management product ( Check out the link on my website) which will help your plantings through the normal stress of being transplanted from a container where it has called home for many months and also help keep those water friendly plant materials properly hydrated by supplying available water vapor from the pore spaces within the soil at the root zone. The application will last up to 90 days so this is a real big plus as most newly planted shrubs,trees, etc... will take at least 60-90 days to grow out their root systems to properly anchor and stabilize the plant or tree before it actually starts to grow out in leaves,branches, flowering, etc.. ( I am writing a book which one of my chapter's' will cover the concept of root growth before a plant grows to it's maturity ).
Plant the shrub or tree a inch or so above the planting hole, be sure to create a nice water basin around the base of the tree or shrub and mulch within 3 to 40 inches of the trunk of stalk of the tree or shrub planted to help contain water when you do water your plants.( You can possibly get away with watering your new plants /trees 1-2 times per week especially after using the Moisture Manager in your water back fill when you first installed the plants.
Do your planting if possible early in the morning to help reduce the heat stress level or, in the early evening but, avoid excessive evening watering of your new plant materials as you do not want to welcome the opportunity for fungus of other diseases to have an opportunity to settle in especially if you live in humid zones of the state or country.
By being patient to when you do your planting, choosing the correct plants for the correct zones and utilizing the cutting edge products out there that can reduce planting stress levels and increase the moisture availability level for your landscape team, success during the hot summer month is within reach.
* Be sure to link to the "AS SEEN ON TV LINK" on my web site to be able to go directly to the 'Moisture Manager' website and receive a great discount on the product just by entering the discount code provided.
There is a new kid in town that is becoming a valuable addition in the search for a low water use ground cover,alternative to a grass substitute that has beauty,function and versatility.
That new kid's name is Lippia nodiflora L. 'Kurapia'. Kurapia comes to the USA via the shores of Japan and has been tested for its unique characteristics at UC Davis and UC Riverside.
Kurapia was bred from the native plant Lippa nodiflora found in the coastal regions of Japan and is found to be highly tolerant of saline,acidic,and basic soils. Kurapia grows close to the ground and rarely exceeds one inch high. Most of the year, the plant is covered with small, white flowers that are sterile, which means it is unable to reproduce itself by seed.
It is a perennial,full sun to part shade utility ground cover that will spread up to 6 feet and to the depth of up to 5 feet under ideal irrigation conditions.
Kurapia's sturdy structure makes it ideal for many uses such as rooftops,public utility areas,slope areas,commercial properties and more .Kurapia can tolerate light foot traffic but is not recommended for heavy foot traffic areas like playgrounds or sports fields.
Kurapia has the ability also to survive in temperatures from 13-120 degrees Fahrenheit. Drought tolerant: Eto 20% by drip irrigation and Eto 40% by sprinkler irrigation make kurapia and great choice to help reduce watering requirements without giving up the green so many people love.
From my experience using kurapia the past 3 years I have been surprised,enlightened and excited to see the uses were we can incorporate kurapia into or project designs and also the benefits of using kurapia as a new innovative ground cover is unlimited.
* INQUIRE TODAY TO DETERMINE IF KURAPIA CAN SOLVE ANY LANDSCAPING CHALLENGES AT YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS,
Drought conditions have become a part of our regions reality for the past 4 years. With various cities and water districts nationwide demanding their customers reduce their water use especially outdoors. I have come up with some valuable tips and suggestions to help keep you in the "GREEN " this year and for years to come.
El Nino was supposed to bring us hoards of rain and needed water to our reservoirs but it appears to be just another "average rainfall year" here in Southern California. It is a good idea to educate yourself on what is available to the consumer and business owner to help reduce their outdoor water use and keep some of that well earned ca$h in your pockets.
1. One of the most simplest things you can do as a consumer or business owner, is to retro-fit your existing irrigation system to a more efficient and reliable one. There are irrigation sprinkler nozzles that help you better manage irrigation use, eliminate irrigation runoff, and reduce your water bills. The Toro Precision Series Spray Nozzles offer all the above and have been proven to reduce water usage by 35% . The Toro Precision Series Rotating nozzles supply matched precipitation rates at any arc and radius from 14 to 26 feet. The water is applied slowly and evenly thus helping to reduce runoff and wasted water. Both nozzles can be retro fitted into numerous other brands of popups and should be looked at at your local irrigation supply store such as Site One ( Formally John Deere Landscapes ) www.siteone.com or Ewing Irrigation Products www.ewing.com to see if they will help solve some or all of your irrigation watering woes.
2. The next best suggestion I have is to upgrade that irrigation controller to a more modern 'Smart Controller". Smart controllers such as the Toro Evolution Series controller offer standard functions such as manual watering ,setting water days and start times and also have the ability to add extra features such as the Toro wireless weather sensor which uses live temperature and solar measurements plus historical weather data to calculate the amount of water needed for irrigating various landscaping shrubs,turf, and other plant materials. Plus you can add a 'Rain Gage" to automatically shut down the irrigation system during a rain and, you can also add a Precision soil sensor to help monitor the soil moisture level in the soil so that the system only waters when the soil moisture level reaches a certain point to automatically activate the irrigation controller or keep it shut off if enough available moisture is contained within the soils profile.
3. After you have completed your irrigation system retro-fit, you are now ready to apply a remarkable moisture management product to your landscape turf,trees,shrubs, and potted plants to help minimize drought stress,control or eliminate dry spots,enhance nutrient uptake and much more. Ecologel's Moisture Manager will help keep all your landscaping plants hydrated. Proper soil moisture management is the key to healthy plant materials. Moisture Manager works by being applied to the soil and the hygroscopic and humectant properties of the product produces a thin persistent film on root surfaces and attracts available water in the form of water vapor between soil pore spaces to attract, capture, and retains that water vapor to have it available for the plants root system. This helps reduce and eliminate drought stress that can lead to disease and pest, and can also help you lower your watering expenses.
* utilizing drip irrigation when feasible and changing over various water hogging plant materials with water thrifty plants,trees, and shrubs will also lead a great pathway to water savings and a beautiful landscape.
By incorporating some or all of the suggestions above, you can realize some real water savings and reduce water waste and runoff. Check out my website for the "As Seen On TV " Moisture Manager banner and save on your purchase of Moisture Manager. Just use the special code "Unique" to receive your discount at checkout.
* For more information on the Evolution Series 'Smart Controllers' , Precision Series nozzles ( H2o chip technology nozzles and Precision rotating type nozzles, ,soil sensors, and weather sensors go to ( www.toro.com )
* Be sure to check with your local water districts and water providers as they may have rebate programs available for you from your purchase of "Smart Controllers", water efficient nozzles, soil sensors, and weather sensors.
Fall is traditionally the best time to consider installing drought tolerant and native landscaping plants,shrubs, trees, and ground cover. Below I have listed five great tips that have proven to be very valuable in my landscape project installations over the past years.
1. Dig your planting hole at right angles and at least 1-1/2 times the size of the container your plant material is housed in.
By digging at right angles, you are encourage the root system of your plant to grow in a more natural downward and outward process rather than possibly growing in a " soup bowl " root bound process.
Also the roots have an opportunity to stretch out and anchor in better with the extra planting hole width.
* Note: Be sure to plant your material at least 1-1/2 " higher in the planting hole so to help avoid stem root rot from having the plant planted to low in the ground.
2. Hydrate the planting hole first.
By hydrating the planting hole first, you help reduce the possibility of the plants root ball from drying out.
Placing a fresh plant into a "Dry" hole is a sure way to have the moisture from the plant wick out to the surrounding hole dry soil area. By hydrating the hole first, you are able to reduce the wicking effect as the surrounding soil within the hole has reached a saturation point and will not pull available water from the plants root ball.
* Tip: I use a product called "Moisture Manager" in the water we pour into the planting holes. The product is a food grade compound/humectant that pulls available water vapor from the soil pore space and makes it available for the plant roots for up to 3 months.
Send me a email to get you more information on this amazing product and to place a order for a quart bottle to try out.
3. Avoid using a lot of the soil amendments and soil fertilizers when back filling your planting holes.
I have found over the past couple years from following the specifications from one of my ace native plant landscape designers ( Mr. Rob Moore of California Native Landscape Designs www.californianativelandscapedesigns.com ) that it is not really necessary to use a lot of supplemental soil amendments and fertilizers when installing native plant materials.
In my experience the nurseries where I purchase my plant materials have taken every effort to supply the best living environment for my chosen plants and usually the plant materials have ample soil amendments and fertilizers already within the planting container already and only in very extreme crappy soil conditions such as new construction sites or planting areas that have been covered with concrete sidewalks, patios, driveways, etc... you would really want to consider amending the soil before planting your new plants.
* Tip: I do use a mycroryze product that helps increase rooting and help reduce the transplant shock levels when I install the new plant materials. Contact me for more information on what we use and recommend.
4. Monitor your watering habits.
You can over water or under water plant materials so be careful not to " OVER WATER" your newly installed plants.
It is much easier to hydrate a limp plant rather than attempt to "Dry Out" a overly water one.
By observing the plants leaves,stems, and understanding your chosen plants growing characteristics, you can help reduce the death cycle on your new landscape.
* Tip: Soil moisture meters help you to get basic readings on your soil moisture content and can be used as a help in monitoring your soil moisture levels. You can find inexpensive ones at your local home store garden section or online.
5. Enjoy the "New Growth Process"
This process is leaving the newly planted addition to your landscape alone and giving it time to establish it's root system and become accustomed to its new living environment. This process normally takes approx. 60-90 days based on weather temperatures, watering frequency, and the attitude of each plant.
Yes, plants do have an attitude so leave them alone and let them show you what type they have.
A positive attitude equals a new home for your plants and a negative attitude equals a replacement in my book.
Good luck and let me know how things are going and if this blog was helpful.
Here in Southern California, we should seriously consider which plan of action to use to help protect one's home and businesses from seasonal wild fires. Wild fires can occur at any time an are especially devastating in the late summer and early fall when it is normally seasonally hot and windy from our Santa Ana winds.
I have witnessed on news the havoc and destruction fires have caused in Washington state and other western states and pray that those effected by their wildfires will have faith, and hope to rebuild and rethink their "Firscaping" plans.
Listed below is a suggested plan when " Firescaping" with fire-resistant plant materials.
* The first order of business is to break down your property into 4 zonal areas.
* Zone 1 : 50 ft. and closest to your home.
Suggested plan of action : keep area moist and well trimmed,
Install turf,ground covers,and annual color.
Avoid using plants with high resin content ( Pines, Junipers,Eucalyptus etc.. )
* Zone 2: 51-100 ft.
Keep landscaping low and sparse.
Slow growing,drought tolerant shrubs & ground covers are to be considered to keep the fire at ground level.
Use plant materials with high moisture content.
* Zone 3: 101-150 ft.
Keep area high and clean
Trees are suggested to be planted in this zone with their branches at least 10 ft. away from the nearest tree and their branches should be no closer than 15 ft, from the ground.
* Zone 4 : 150 ft. and beyond
This should be considered your "Natural Area"
This area may not be landscaped, it still should be well maintained.
Trees are suggested to be thinned twice a year.
all low branches, leaf litter, and dead plants & branches should be removed.
* Other items to consider:
Use crushed stone for mulch and avoid using bark or shredded dry mulch.
Use materials such as rocks & pebbles, decomposed granite,flagstone, and artificial wood that is inorganic or inflammable when building fences,decks, etc...
By keeping these simple suggestions in mind during this high fire season, it is my hope these suggestions will help save not only your home or business during a wild fire but maybe more important, you and your families lives.