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Happy World Water Day! Every drop counts

Global initiative leads to local landscapes and ways to save

How are you using water around your house? Much of household water is used outdoors. And if you want to replace that lawn, some water providers offer incentives.

How are you using water around your house? Much of household water is used outdoors. And if you want to replace that lawn, some water providers offer incentives. Kathy Morrison

Everybody needs water – especially good, clean, drinkable water. Recognizing that universal fact, the United Nations declared March 22 – today – as World Water Day.

World Water Day dates back to 1994 as a way to raise global awareness about water-related issues. About half the world’s population faces severe water scarcity at least part of each year.

How can you be part of World Water Day? As the U.N. says, think globally, act locally – by making the most of every drop.

Which makes today a good time to consider your own garden’s water use and needs. In the warm months ahead, our landscapes account for about half of our total water use. Changes made now can add up to huge savings in water – and dollars – for years to come.

Tune-up your irrigation system with high-efficiency sprinkler nozzles or a smart controller. You’ll save hundreds of gallons a week and your plants will grow healthier. Several local water providers offer rebates for irrigation upgrades. Find them here:

The City of Sacramento, for example, offers rebates for irrigation updates, smart irrigation controllers, rain barrels, and laundry-to-landscape graywater systems.

Or consider replacing thirsty turf with more water-wise alternatives while helping beneficial insects. Several of those same Sacramento-area water providers are offering “Cash for Grass” incentives for lawn replacement. (They’re listed on that same page as the rebates.) Find more water-wise ideas here:

As for the official World Water Day observance, this year’s commemoration puts a special twist on this event: “Water for Peace.” It spotlights how water brings people together and can be a catalyst for harmony.

Learn more here:


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Garden Checklist for week of April 21

This week there’s plenty to keep gardeners busy. With no rain in the immediate forecast, remember to irrigate any new transplants.

* Weed, weed, weed! Get them before they flower and go to seed.

* April is the last chance to plant citrus trees such as dwarf orange, lemon and kumquat. These trees also look good in landscaping and provide fresh fruit in winter.

* Smell orange blossoms? Feed citrus trees with a low dose of balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) during bloom to help set fruit. Keep an eye out for ants.

* Apply slow-release fertilizer to the lawn.

* Thoroughly clean debris from the bottom of outdoor ponds or fountains.

* Spring brings a flush of rapid growth, and that means your garden is really hungry. Feed shrubs and trees with a slow-release fertilizer. Or mulch with a 1-inch layer of compost.

* Azaleas and camellias looking a little yellow? If leaves are turning yellow between the veins, give them a boost with chelated iron.

* Trim dead flowers but not leaves from spring-flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. Those leaves gather energy to create next year's flowers. Also, give the bulbs a fertilizer boost after bloom.

* Pinch chrysanthemums back to 12 inches for fall flowers. Cut old stems to the ground.

* Mulch around plants to conserve moisture and control weeds.

* From seed, plant beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, corn, cucumbers, melons, radishes and squash.

* Plant onion sets.

* In the flower garden, plant seeds for asters, cosmos, celosia, marigolds, salvia, sunflowers and zinnias.

* Transplant petunias, zinnias, geraniums and other summer bloomers.

* Plant perennials and dahlia tubers for summer bloom.

* Mid to late April is about the last chance to plant summer bulbs, such as gladiolus and tuberous begonias.

* Transplant lettuce seedlings. Choose varieties that mature quickly such as loose leaf.

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