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Get perfect tool for this summer: Free moisture meter

BeWaterSmart offers handy device to have during drought or any time

Frog moisture meter in pot
A moisture meter can tell you whether a potted plant
or a planted area needs water. This cute meter is
available free. (Photo courtesy BeWaterSmart)

Here is a must-have tool for summer gardening in Sacramento. It’s super-easy to use and will save you money. It can save an amazing amount of water, too, while looking adorable.

And the best part: It’s free! But only while the supply lasts. once again is offering free soil moisture meters. Just stick the meter’s metal probe into the ground and it reads the moisture level almost instantly. And the little froggy is very cute while doing this important job.

BeWaterSmart is sponsored by the Regional Water Authority, the umbrella organization over the Sacramento region's water providers. The meters are available to any customers of those member water districts and providers.

During triple-digit weather, anything above ground – including us – can dry out quickly. But what about your soil?

“Trying to figure out how much water your yard needs can be a mystery,” says BeWaterSmart. “You might think you can tell just by looking at your plants or by the weather reports, but the best and most accurate way is to check the soil’s moisture level with a moisture meter.”

Even during high heat, soil (especially clay) can retain its moisture. Mulch cuts down on moisture loss. So does shade (such as a tree’s canopy over its roots).

With the meter, probe a few different spots in your garden. (Potted plants, too.) Push the probe 6 to 8 inches into the soil; that’s the root zone. The meter’s dial reads “dry,” “moist” or “wet”; irrigate accordingly.

And if you can’t push it in at all, that area likely needs some deep watering.

For your free moisture meter:

For rebates and other resources: .


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 19:

Spring will start a bit soggy, but there’s still plenty to do between showers:

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* Watch out for aphids. Wash off plants with strong blast from the hose.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prepare summer vegetable beds. Spade in compost and other amendments.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Feed camellias at the end of their bloom cycle. Pick up browned and fallen flowers to fight blossom blight.

* Feed citrus trees as they start to blossom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Seed and renovate the lawn (if you still have one). Feed cool-season grasses such as bent, blue, rye and fescue with a slow-release fertilizer. Check the irrigation system and perform maintenance. Make sure sprinkler heads are turned toward the lawn, not the sidewalk.

* In the vegetable garden, transplant lettuce and kale.

* Seed chard and beets directly into the ground.

* Plant summer bulbs, including gladiolus, tuberous begonias and callas. Also plant dahlia tubers.

* Shop for perennials. Many varieties are available in local nurseries and at plant events. They can be transplanted now while the weather remains relatively cool.

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