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.
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
Managing our natural resources during drought conditions takes mental observation of our situation, educating ourselves on what the causes and effects of drought are, and taking positive actions to provide the best remedies to reduce or at best eliminate the negative effects of drought conditions.
Managing soil organics and learning how to effectively improve your soil is one of the biggest steps you can take in your quest to deal with drought conditions in your landscape. By providing healthy, vibrant, microbe rich nutrients to our soil matrix, you can improve the overall growing conditions and health of all plant and tree materials on site. Biostimulants like CytoGro ( www.cytogro.com ) can provide special extracts and natural ingredients to improve the biological activity levels in a safe and organic way. The primary ingredients are cytokins & auxins that are combined with natural extracts of amino acids,vitamins, and nutrients derived from sea vegetables. This combination promotes deep, dense root development which strengthens plants and increases tolerance to stress by disease damage, insect infestation,lack of moisture,poor water quality, and other environmental factors
Another one of the best 'Ole Skool' methods of optimizing your soil is by utilizing organic compost and mulches to help retain vital minerals and nutrients in the soil and help create a living soil web environments for earth worms and other microscopic insects that create food and life for our plant and tree roots. As a bonus, this same mulch helps retain precious water so that our landscapes can survive under today's extremely hot weather conditions.
Proper water management through the use of 'Smart Irrigation' technologies and innovative approaches to saving and applying water to our landscapes is vital.
We are currently using one of the latest WiFi enabled controller that our clients and I can control water use on-site from anywhere in the world ! ( Contact me at this website under our contact form )
There are many water provider/supplier programs available now for you to learn more about what is available to help you conserve and use water wisely. Check with your water provider or online under "Landscape water conservation " and I am sure you will come across many websites that can help you learn more and apply proven techniques.
By educating yourself on the basics of proper resource management at your home or business you will be well on the way to saving your landscape investment, your precious time, and most of all our limited natural resources.
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.
Summer time and the living is easy right ?
Not so true for some native and drought tolerant plant materials and shrubs. As you probably already know, installing drought tolerant and native plants and shrubs during the hot summer months is not the best idea for the shrubs or for your pocketbook. The hot days and warm nights combine to create a continual evaporational effect to the soil and creates a interesting challenge for the home gardener and professional alike who want only for those shrubs to flourish and display beauty within the landscape. The best time normally to install drought tolerant shrubs and native plant materials is in the fall and spring when the weather conditions are not as extreme and the newly planted shrubs roots can enjoy stretching out underground in the warm through the day and cool in the night soil temps. During the hot summer days evapotranspiration takes place which draws the available water from the soil into the air. Plus, gravity is doing it's thing and drawing water down words away from the root zone of the newly installed plant or shrubs causing extra stress on the establishment of the root system and the proper hydration of the shrubs in order for it to survive.
Native shrubs ( At least those here in Southern California ) get most of their supplemental water during the fall and spring months. By installing native shrubs in the middle of the year you are actually reversing a natural growing process the native shrubs are born to perform. The plant stresses out from not enough water at the root zone because of gravity and evapotranspiration and it also stress out from its roots being saturated with water it "Normally" does not receive during the hot summer months so what do you get ? A HEADACHE and FRUSTRATION.
Some "Sage Watering Advice" from our friends over at Tree of Life Nursery ( www.californianativeplants.com ) will help you during these hot summer days.
* Pre-irrigate the planting hole so there is adequate moisture around the root system.
*Apply 1-2 inches of organic mulch ( No Manure ) around the root zone of the plants but keep the mulch and excess soil well away from the stems and crown.
* Water by hose,drip,or low volume sprinkler in the early morning and avoid watering in the heat of the day or night.
* Water only when the soil in the root zone ( 6-8" down ) begins to dry out.
* For best results, avoid using overhead irrigation for long durations ( Especially in the sun ) because prolonged leaf wetting during the dry season can promote disease.
By understanding the ideal planting times for natives and drought tolerant plants and shrubs plus incorporating thoughtful and effecting watering habits to newly installed and existing plants materials, you will have better success and less stress and money loss from over watering or under watering your landscape kids.
" Have A Successful Day "
Conversion of conventional sprinkler popup to Little Tuffy Micro-Spray and rotator nozzle configuration for an existing shrub bed.
* www.valvettesystems.com - Little valve shrub heads
* www.rainbird.com _ Rainbird 1800 popup drip conversion kit.
* www.toro.com - Toro Percision Rotary nozzles
Time of Year:
The most suitable time of year to do native planting is during the typical rainy period here in Southern California. Fall season normally is the start of the winter rain and with our warm days and cool nights, the establishment of native plants and the survival rate is greatly increased as the plants rooting system is active and top growth is limited due to the short sunlight periods of time through the fall days. Spring time is also a great time to do plantings of natives and the winter rains help keep the plants well hydrated. As we move into the warmer months of the year, it is advisable to take note of what types of natives you are attempting to install and understand that plants blooming period. Work at adjusting your installation time to duplicate the native plants natural cycle of growing and blooming. It is better to plant before it blooms than just before in my opinion. With the warmer summer months, it becomes difficult to balance the natives actual water needs ( Some native receive almost no supplemental water at all during the warmer summer months ) and the actual moisture needs of the plant due to evapotransporation of the applied water to the plant. Some folks and contractors for that matter, tend to over water the native due to the need to keep the plant alive but the natural characteristics and requirements of the native is to not receive as much water as it is receiving thus leading a lot of times to plant failure and death.
keeping these thoughts in mind will help you better plan your native plant installation time and give you a better success rate when it comes to the survival of your plant materials.