Bay-Friendly gardens use dramatically less water than conventional gardens. Following Bay-Friendly practices helps take the guesswork out of planting and irrigation, and can reduce water demand as well as water waste. Saving water saves money and reduces demand for our limited water supplies. Using less water, and watering at the right time, can also mean a healthier, better looking garden.
Tips for waterwise gardening:
- Go native or native-like. Emphasize California native and Mediterranean climate plants that thrive with little or no summer watering once they are established.
- Hydrozone. Group plants by water needs, a practice known as hydrozoning. And water according to the plants’ needs, not just on a fixed schedule. To learn how much water specific plants need, check plant label at nurseries, look in gardening books or search online.
- Minimize or eliminate lawn area, especially lawns that merely ornamental and not actively used for recreation. Sheet mulching is an effective technique for eliminating lawns without chemicals by layering cardboard and mulch right on top of the grass.
- Mind the irrigation. Install efficient irrigation such as drip and bubbler technologies, low flow sprinkler heads and weather-based controllers. Fix leaks and broken sprinklers immediately. Watch a video slideshow on converting sprinklers to drip irrigation.
- Use compost and mulch to increase the soil’s water-holding capacity and reduce moisture lost.
- Water infrequently but deeply for deep roots growth. A general rule of thumb is to water enough to wet a plant’s entire root zone. With the exception of lawn, deep, infrequent irrigation is most beneficial for plants. Shallow, frequent watering encourages shallow roots that are vulnerable to hot weather because they dry out very quickly.
- Get a handle on weeds. They compete with other plants for nutrients and water in the soil.
- Recycle water. Install a rainwater collection or graywater system to reduce use of drinking water for irrigation and to reduce erosion and runoff.