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.
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.
We talk a lot about the types of soils,plants,and trees we work with in landscaping but, one item we very rarely talk about is hand tools. With the help of Western Garden Book " A Practical Guide To Gardening" here is a list of some of our very common garden hand tools, their uses and a couple tips on what to look for when choosing your tools.
Tool: Round-Point Shovel. Uses: To loosen soils, transfer soil to piles or wheel barrow,dig planting holes. Look For: 9" long by 12" wide head for general digging, 6" by 8" head and shorter handle for confined spaces. Round point shovels vary in lift. (The angle formed between the ground and the shovel handle when the shovel head is laid flat on the ground) To make digging easier by minimizing the amount of bending you will have to do,choose a tool with generous lift.
Tool: Spading Fork. Uses: Breaks large clods of soil to smaller clumps. Look For: Four tines that are square or rectangle in cross-section and about 1/2" wide. Substitutes for spades in clay or rocky soils.
Tool: Leaf Rake. Uses: Rake leaves,grass clippings and other light weight materials into piles. Look For: Tines are closely spaced and curve downward at the tip arranged in a curving fan pattern with a stabilizing brace about 8" up from the tip of the tines.
Tool: Square-Nose Shovel. Uses: Scoops up loose dirt,compost, gravel from flat surface. Look For: The best size that picks up the greatest amount of material you can lift repeatedly without tiring. Not meant for general digging.
Tool: Garden or Soil Rake. Uses: Breaks up large pieces of dirt,levels soil, helps work in amendments into the soil into the top few inches. Look For: Thick steel tines,that are straight or curved. Tines may be attached to the handle directly by a tang or socket, or indirectly by a curving bow. The bow type has more spring or resilience. Select a rake with some weight in it's head.
These are just a few common hand gardening tools that are used on a daily basis. Take some time and buy only quality, dependable gardening tools. The extra cash you may spend on quality tools will save you hundreds of dollars in time and frustration in purchasing inferior, and cheap products.
Now is the time to consider over seeding those existing sparse coverage lawn areas. Early spring provides the supplemental rain water and the combination of warm days and cool nights to help with the germination process of the grass seed. Properly planned and installed, a over seeded lawn is the least expensive way to increase the density,texture,and over all look of a otherwise crappy lawn. Using premium quality grass seed is a must. Utilizing a premium seed cover is also necessary in order to protect the seed from drying out, and being robbed by hungry birds. Using a quality soil conditioner such as Tri-C Humate with Mycrorizye is also very helpful in establishing a strong root system for the seed and providing needed microrbal activity to the soil to improve the soil environment. Go to the web sites listed on my links page to link with Southland Sod Farms for information on how to over seed and where to purchase premium grass seed and, link to Tri-C Products to learn more about high in quality soil conditioners. For seed topper, Kelloggs "Topper"is a industry favorite. Over come the bad with the good and enjoy a strong,healthy, naturally "GREEN" lawn today.
Retaining walls have been a mainstay for slope retention and erosion prevention for a long time. There are numerous companies that specialize in producing various styles and sizes of retaining wall materials for today's contractor and home owner. The latest addition to the mix of useable "Eco-Friendly" materials to use in building retaining walls is the fully plantable segmental retaining retaining wall block. Manufactured by Soil Retention Systems ( Which offers the Verdura Wall block ) The interlocking block has a section built into the block to allow for the planting of vegatation which will help in the retention of soil and aid in the reduction of water runoff and help maintain the natural habitat where the retaining walls are built. Use of native plant materials is encouraged as native plant roots can grow much longer and have the ability to bind the soil better and possibly faster than non native vegatation choice's.There are developer advantage's also as there no height restrictions when you are build a green wall ( Be sure to check your local city and county code requirements anyway to be sure ) so an increase in property value is a possibility by installing the green wall. LEED certification (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design ) points can possibly give the owner an opportunity to take advantage of state and local government incentives for your project also. Beautiful ground covers and vines add class and suit a landscaping purpose when using the plantable segmental retaining wall system.
* For more information on the plantable segmental retaining wall system go to the website www.soilretention.com.
* Information for this blog was obtained from the January/February 2011 publication "Soil Erosion and Hydroseeding" ( www.soilerosiononline.com ) article "Living Retaining Walls".