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.
Pocket gophers and ground squirrels are pest and create serious problems in the landscape. Managing them is an art all into itself. There are traps,cages,pesticides,polymers, and various other 'control' methods that are being used to control and/or eliminate the furry visitors on a long term basis.
I have found a couple control methods that have proved quite effective and human friendly.
The first control product I highly recommend is a food grade polymer called 'Gopher Goo' that when poured into a gopher or squirrel hole and hydrated with water, will in turn swell up to at least 4 times it's size inside the hole and fill the opening and create a long term ' barrier plug' that seems to force the gophers to move on from our job sites. The polymer also contains a small addition of organic compost that helps in the rebuilding process of the damaged roots. The polymer will last up to 2-3 years in the soil before it breaks down naturally ,
There is no toxic ingredients inside this product so it is extremely safe to use around children and pets. The polymer creates a sticky goo all over the pelt of the pest and this creates a big problem for them as the pelt needs to be smooth so that they can move through the holes and tunnels in the ground. The pest are forced to move on from the site since they despise getting the goo on their pelts and we end up managing the pest off our job sites. You can learn more about Gopher Goo at www.gophergoo.com.
The next pest management product that I have had really great success with is a cage device called a squirrllnator.
This cage has two openings on two sides of the cage and a cage door on top to take out dead squirrels or release them elsewhere if you choose to do so. I have found the best 'Bait' for the squirrel is orange pieces,sunflower seed, and mixed nuts. This mixture of goodies seem to attract the squirrels into the cage and once they are in there the door they entered is a one way access. they cannot get out once they enter. This cage is a lot better than using poison baits and seems to work fast and efficiently and by using one or both of these management tools in your quest to rid your site of pocket gophers and squirrels, I am sure you will have great success.
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.
"Rain rain go away, come back another day" ?
Well we are not singing that tune down here in Southern California. With record drought and heavy duty watering restrictions in place in many cities around the country, it is important to learn all we can on how to properly and responsibly harvest any and all available "Free rain water". We have been installing simple rain water collection barrels for the past year and have been successful in helping consumers reduce there waste water drainage to the sewer systems and increase available water for customers veggie gardens and potted plants around their homes plus utilize a free resource that can help consumers save money on water cost.
Rain water harvesting is not some new fad that was just coined up the past couple years because of the drought situation all over the U.S. and for that matter over the world. I remember we had a couple rain barrels at our family home back in Ohio that supplied "Soft Water" for cleaning clothes in our washing machine, supply water for watering flowers and garden plants around the house and in the winter, providing ice every now and then for use when my folks made home made ice cream. ( Yummy stuff I may add ).
The fine art of catching rain water goes back to early times when it was out of dire necessity folks saved every drop of water that fell so that they could properly water their crops,wash not only their clothes but also their bodies.
Today their are various ways to collect rain water and I will just share a couple with you in this blog and if you have further questions on what other water saving methods are available out there, please respond back to my comments section on the blog site.
* The easiest and lest expensive method of catching available rain water is a basic rain barrel. The barrel that I recommend to consumers is an smart, attractive system providing economical use of available rainwater for gardening and ecostorage. It comes in two natural color options ( Granite & Green )and it is designed to blend in to your landscape decor. You can store from 55-gallons to 110 gallons without shocking your eyes or budget. The storage and installation are effortless and multiple barrels can be plumbed together to create an integral rainwater harvesting system with unlimited capacity.
There is a integral all-in-one hydroactivated diverter ,first flush, and filter kit that is also available and highly recommended.
* The second system is a little more dynamic and is suited for large capacity water storage. It is known as a "Storage Bladder" These containers are easily hidden under a deck, in a crawl space, or behind greenery and can offer 500,1000, or 2,000 gallon storage capacities. They are built to last with durable, engineered construction and convenient camlock fittings for easy installation. There are also bladder kits that contains everything you need to get started collecting rainwater. Offered in three different sizes, the kits comes complete with your choice of bladder,a pump, and diverter.
* There are a number of local city water agencies that offer rebates on rain barrel installations and it would behoove you to investigate your water provider to see if they offer any rebates.
Start saving that "Free rainwater" today and start saving money on water cost and reducing water waste to the sewer systems in our towns and cities.
This month's blog will be one of thanks to my family, valued clients, talented sub contractor teams and reliable vendors who supply my company with the best products, service's and opportunities a contractor could ever hope for.
Throughout the year there has been challenge's, surprises, victories, and an exciting vision for the year ahead.
I have had the great pleasure to work with some of the most talented landscape designers in Southern California and have transformed their design concepts into visual realities.
The various landscape nursery plant material providers have produced over the year( even with limited stock supplies) outstanding quality landscaping plants ,trees,shrubs, and ground covers. The new discoveries of products that have helped my clients save water,sustainable resources, money, and still maintain a healthy and beautiful landscape has been exciting.
Working with the various water district professionals and Green Industry leaders from all over the state & country has taught me many new and amazing things to share with my clients and fellow contractors.
The landscape contractors association ( California Landscape Contractor's Association ) that I am a proud member of has provided my company with valuable friendships, professional knowledge access, and a venue to just have a great time with other Green Industry professionals is truly a blessing.
Being able to get up each morning and thank God for the opportunity to see another day, touch, smell, and taste the great outdoors each day is the experience I am lucky to have each day by being a part of making our environment beautiful place for many people including myself.
Leaving my mark in society as a landscape contractor is an honor. When I am able to go past a site where my team and I have taken literally a blank slate of dirt,weeds and neglect and converted it into a beautiful, useful, and pleasant living environment is a high all of us in the Green Industry aspire to achieve and appreciate.
And lastly seeing the award winning projects completed by my Green Industry "Buds" is the most inspiring way to look forward to the new year and set goals to do just as good or better than my buds so that I too can be saluted for a job well done and worthy of winners status.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays and Thank-you to all my "Ed's Blog" readers and followers and may the New Year find many blessings in store for you and your families.
Edward L. Wallace
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.
Remember those famous words spoken by the narrator on the 70's Sci-Fi TV show The "Outer Limits" ?
Not that old huh ? Well you missed a great sci-fi show that had goose bumps on my arms. ( Maybe they still show re-runs on TVLand or some other station like that )
Any way in today's world of "Intelligent Irrigation Controllers" consumers can literally control their irrigation systems while at work,overseas or stuck in traffic as many of us Southern California folks are each day. The age of the simple irrigation controller that you just plug in, set your run times and days to water are pretty much a thing of the past now that "Smart controllers" are making consumers lives more easy and their pocketbooks fuller from cash saved from reducing their outdoor water use.
There are a number of Smart Controllers on the market today and having a basic knowledge of the choice's can make a big difference in your investment cost and most important, your desired results of having a properly irrigation managed landscape for your home or business.
Just what is a "Smart Controller" ?
When you think about "Smart Technology you may first remember that most central air systems in homes and heating systems work through Smart Technology. The thermostats read the temperatures within a given space and the system automatically adjusts the temps to what you have programed your comfort levels to be at a given time,and within a particular room or space. This type of technology best sets the stage for today's modern Smart Irrigation Controllers.
Smart Controllers work almost like that thermostat for your irrigation system giving it instructions on when to come on, go off,how long the cycle should run etc... The Smart Controller uses local weather stations to send signals to the controller to make adjustments according to weather and landscape plant materials actual needs vs gardener guessing.
Smart controllers allow watering based on a plant groups actual needs and requirements to survive. When all the correct data is entered into the Smart Controller consumers can be more at ease with worrying about whether to water or not and if they are wasting water due to improper watering schedules.
Many cities and water districts offer "Rebates" on particular models of Smart Controllers and it is worth the time to go online and check with your local water agencies and water purveyors to see what you may qualify for if you do choose to "Upgrade" your present controller.
Their are a number of distributors such as John Deere Landscapes, Ewing Irrigation,& Hydroscape that have a national presence that carry quality Smart Controllers and their are also various licensed landscape contractors that are "Certified Water Managers and irrigation specialist. Check out this website: www.clca.us/water and go to the certified water manager link for help in finding a certified water manager. You can also go to the website : www.irrigatortech.com to help in your search for certified irrigation specialist.
Some other "Smart Controller" links: www.hunterirrigation.com ,
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