Being water-wise while still maintaining an attractive landscape is doable. It just takes a little know-how. Here are some helpful water-wise gardening tips for winter from UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County to get you started.
- CHECK YOUR IRRIGATION EQUIPMENT REGULARLY Many irrigation systems can be set to run all stations briefly. Doing this after each mow – or at least once per month – will help you catch and repair the damage quickly.
- FIGURE OUT HOW LONG YOUR SPRINKLERS CAN RUN BEFORE YOU BEGIN TO SEE RUNOFF Never set your irrigation equipment to run for longer than this. It is more efficient to water more frequently than to water for longer durations.
- ADJUST SPRINKLER SETTINGS DOWN IN COOLER MONTHS Even on clear days in winter, your landscape will need just 1/3 of the water it needs in the hot summer months. Scheduling irrigation systems to run in the morning will also reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
- FILL IN LANDSCAPING GAPS WITH PLANTS DURING THE FALL AND WINTER MONTHS Younger, smaller plants are less expensive and more likely to develop resilient root systems when transplanted in the less stressful conditions of fall and winter. It can take up to two seasons for plants to establish and fill out, so plant now to support your plans for next summer and fall. When choosing plants, check the tags for those with medium or lower water requirements.
- WHILE IN THE NURSERY, GET IN THE HABIT OF ADDING MULCH TO YOUR SHOPPING CART A thick layer of organic or inorganic mulch not only saves you time weeding, but it also improves the efficiency of your irrigation system.
To learn more about gardening, visit the UCCE Master Gardeners of Orange County website at https://mgorange.ucanr.edu/. You can also find additional water-smart gardening information and other water-saving resources, tips and incentives at https://mwdoc.com/ociswatersmart.