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.
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.
Winter in Southern California typically brings us rain and that valuable resource is at a lot of times wasted by allowing that water to run off our roofs, down the rain gutter, out to the sewer system or most times draining out into the street where it collects excessive oils,fluids,and other toxic crap that ends up in the street gutter and then eventually that water ends up in our ocean.
By incorporating rain water catchment systems like rain barrels, and water bladders, you can save some of that water for future use.
Rain barrels: They come in various sizes with 55 gallon and 110 gallon barrels most often used. The rain barrel is normally made of a heavy duty plastic,and is available in various colors like Grey/granite, red, and green. They have a port on top where the water drains into the barrel, and a bottom spout to add a water hose to dispense the water. The water is normally diverted into the barrel with the help of a rain water diverted device. This device mounts in between the rain barrel and drain pipe and works by either diverting water into the barrel or diverting that water to flow as normal through the drain pipe.
The next storage catchment system is a storge bladder which is widely used back in the eastern and southern states to store free rain water. The bladder consist of a heavy duty flexible rubber bladder that comes in 500,1000, or 2000 gallon storage capacities. The bladder is plumbed to catch rain water from the rain gutters and store that water until needed to water the garden or other landscape plant materials. The bladder can be retro-fitted with a small pump to dispense the water for use also, Another bonus of using the bladder is being able to hide it under a porch,deck.or a number of other available unused space areas.
Another more natural rain water reuse system is installing a dry stream bed from the rain gutter. By designing and installing a natural flowing stream bed type of drainage system you can capture some of that rain water that may end up in the street gutters. This water can help recharge your local underground water table supply and also supply needed water for your landscape plant materials that you can design in to accent your stream bed and water garden to enhance the overall look of your landscape.
Take advantage of free rain water and do your part to help conserve and use it more prudently.
* Be sure to check with your local water supplier as a number of agencies provide rebates for rain barrel purchases.
Many consumers and professional landscapers are installing various landscape projects that require or may I say 'Suggest" utilizing various types of landscape fabrics ,mesh tarps, pond liners and yes even frost protection fabrics to reduce weed growth,help protect wind sensitive plant materials plus, create safe puncture proof 'buffer zones' when building pondless and other water features plus protect against extreme weather and climatic conditions.
Every home gardener and landscape pro has purchased and installed landscape fabric or as it is commonly called 'Weed Block' down before putting down mulch in planter beds, or in areas where you do not want weeds to rear their heads. There are various types of landscape fabric and I will give you a quick refresher course on some of those fabrics and also give you some of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly when installing some of barrier materials.
Your local home store probably carries a inexpensive brand of landscape fabric that normally comes in 3- 5 ft. to 50 to 100 ft. rolls. A lot of times this fabric is made out of some inexpensive rubbery/plastic like material made with a series of small holes in it throughout the square footage of the roll to allow air & water to penetrate through but, it is also designed to not allow weeds to grow up and through the fabric . This fabric is okay but really does not hold up well in the long run due to the thickness of the fabric and the quality of the material it is made from. You know this stuff, you can almost tear it apart with your hands ! May I suggest you steer clear of these types of fabrics as it will just break down through time and activity within the areas it has been installed and just give you weeds and frustration.
Spend the extra money and shop for some quality landscape fabric. What I mean by quality fabric is normally one made from NEEDLE WOVEN or NEEDLE PUNCHED FABRIC materials. The strength of these fabris far out weigh the inferiour 'homeowner brand' of fabric and it will last longer and provide more weed blocking power than the the later.
Speaking of weeds, please keep in mind that weeds are pretty flexible in where and how they grow. They seem to come up any and everywhere you do not want them but more importantly, thy are either wide bladed weeds or grassy bladed type weeds. Some examples of wide bladed weeds would be clover,dandelions,splurge and your grassy type weeds would be bermuda grasses,crabgrass, etc... The grassy weeds will still from time to time come through the weave of some of the woven fabric as when the grassy weed blade germinates and grows, it is almost like a sewing needle with is point that goes right through the weave seaking out sunlight. Just apply some horticultural grade vinagar to the grassy weed or a shot of glyphospate if your not to concerned about contaminating the world with weed killer and go about your business gardening.
When installing the fabric, make sure your area where you are installing is as clear and level of rocks and soil clumps so that you can get a nice level installation and when installing the fabric, I always use a strong steel fabric pins to help hold the fabric down and secure it to my project area. Search out the 'SQUARE TOPPED STAPLES' as they finish flush to the ground and the ' HOOP SHAPED STAPLE' is really ment to secure down drip tubing when installing drip irrigation.
Over-lap say 1/2 inch to 1 inch of the landscape fabric over each other when laying out your fabric in the project area and I usally install the pins with a rubber mallet every 5 feet or so along the overlap seam and in various areas on the fabric where it seemed loose..
Follow-up with your mulch if you are mulching and enjoy the beauty of your newly install landscape.
I will share other the uses of other types of landscape fabric I mentioned earilier in future blogs so come back soon.
* Blog Bonus ! Send me back your comment on this months blog and recieve back a really cool gift.
* Offer expires 12-31-17
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,
When looking for ways to save water and keep from wasting water in a residential or commercial landscape, there are many new irrigation products out in the market that can assist you in your quest. I have listed a few of the best that can help you reduce your landscape water use and in some cases, pay you for doing so depending on your site location/city/state.
1. Weather based irrigation controllers: These are irrigation controllers that have the ability to water the landscape by utilizing the real time weather temps and also historical data of the area to help the owner manage and control the amount of water being applied to various types of landscaping plants,and lawn areas. The controllers come with "On-site" station capability and also the controllers can be managed from a "Hub" or monitoring station for a monthly fee.
2. Drip irrigation: Drip emitters, In-Line drip distribution line, and Sub-Surface drip lines all supply constant and steady regulated flow of water to the root system of plants and lawns. The use of drip irrigation is a wise choice as the water is less likely to evaporate as quickly as when being applied through conventional overhead watering thus, reducing water waste. Also the possibilities of over spray and broken sprinklers that lead to water waste is greatly reduced by using some form of drip irrigation.
3. In-Stem Flow regulated sprinkler and shrub heads: These water saving devices are available and in some cities are rebate qualified through various rebate programs that are being induced to entice owners and water managers to conserve landscape water. These devices have been tested and proven to save water managers an average of 30% in water use at their managed sites. We use these devices every opportunity we get when installing new irrigation systems or retro-fitting existing irrigation systems.
4. Rotating and Percision Type Spray Nozzles: These cutting edge spray nozzles reduce the amount of water being wasted by applying the water in the form of heavier water droplets and in a more uniform manner than conventional nozzles. Many of these new series nozzles are also rebate possible in various cities in the U.S.
By investigating the above possibilities for your own irrigation situation, I am sure you will find a way to help reduce your water use in the landscape and keep and possibly put some extra dollars in your pocket for doing so.
* Useful web sites to locate some of the above mentioned products:
www.hunterirrigation.com - www.toroirrigation.com - www.rainbirdirrigation.com - www.valvettesystems.com
Rain water harvesting is a new trend that is actually a very old trend that has found it's way back into the main stream of the landscaping arena. The term rain water harvesting gives one sometimes visions of large collection tanks or underground water storage tanks or ponds to collect run away water that drains off of homes and other types of buildings. Even a 55 gallon steel drum or wine cask can serve as a useful rain water collection tool.Growing up in central Ohio, a lot of my neighbors and realatives had a "Rain Barrel" that was placed under the down spouts of their rain gutters. That water was then used to water plants,trees, wash clothes, or even your dusty body after a days work. The water was not as dirty and dangerous from such things as "acid rain" and air borne polluntants from cars and buses so the use of the rain water was a little more universal than what that same rain water collected today can be used for. Run off from the thousands of square feet of roof space causes havoc with our streams,rivers, and ocean. Thousands of gallons of useable water is running down the drain and not really providing a benefit to anyone other than occasionally washing down the street from gutter trash and residue oil from cars and trucks. You can install a simple rain water harvesting system at your home or business that can help you reduce the amount of rain water runoff and also provide a supply of needed water for plants and trees that can possibly save you some money on your water bill. Take the time out with a knowledgeable contractor to investigate the various types of rain water harvesting systems and methods available to you and make the decision to do your part to conserve some of that water that is making it's way down the gutter.