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Save water and your landscape, too

Governor's emergency declaration is a reminder: Conserve now

Sprinkler hed and green grass
This is a high-efficiency rotary sprinkler head. It sprays
large droplets of water rather than fine mist.
(Photo courtesy of Hunter Industries)

Get ready for a water-wise summer.

Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a drought emergency in two counties – Sonoma and Mendocino – that have seen their watersheds hit hard by lack of rain as well as by wildfires. But Newsom decided not to declare a similar emergency for the whole state – even though most of California had an extremely dry winter.

Newsom’s declaration recognized “drought or near-drought throughout many portions of the State,” but he held off on imposing any water conservation mandates. For now, that’s going to be up to the individual water providers.

So, the good news: We’re not officially in a drought – yet. The bad news? Reserves are very low. Unless we see some extremely wet weather very soon, water conservation mandates may still be enacted later this year.

What’s a Sacramento-area gardener to do? Be prepared. Start conserving now by cutting down on water waste.

Some simple steps can add up to huge savings – in both water and money, according to the Regional Water Authority, the umbrella organization over Sacramento-area water providers.

For example, high-efficiency rotary sprinkler heads can improve your sprinkler system’s efficiency by 25 to 30%. That adds up to thousands of gallons saved each month.

Changing sprinkler heads is an easy retrofit that you can do yourself. All you need is a screwdriver.

Other huge water savers include installation of drip irrigation and smart irrigation controllers. Drip systems cut down on evaporation and deliver water where it’s needed most – at the roots. Smart controllers factor weather into your landscape’s water needs, automatically making adjustments.

More good news: Rebates for irrigation upgrades are available from many local water providers.

Learn more here:

Be proactive in water saving and get your rebates now!

As for water restrictions, stay on top of your provider’s current guidelines.

For more information and links:


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For week of Dec. 10:

Take advantage of these dry but crisp conditions. It’s time to get out the rake!

* Rake leaves away from storm drains and keep gutters clear.

* Fallen leaves can be used for mulch and compost. Chop up large leaves with a couple of passes with a lawn mower.

* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they’re dormant. Without their foliage, trees are easier to prune.

* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.

* Make sure to take frost precautions with new transplants and sensitive plants. Mulch, water and cover tender plants in the late afternoon to retain warmth.

* Succulent plants are at particular risk if temperatures drop below freezing. Don’t water succulents before frost; cover instead. Use cloth sheets, not plastic. Make sure to remove coverings during the day.

* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.

* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.

* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.

* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eaves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.

* Plant garlic (December's the last chance -- the ground is getting cold!) and onions for harvest in summer.

* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.

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