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SUSTAINABLE GARDEN MAINTENANCE

Establishing your New Landscape

While your new landscape will eventually need little to no water, it will need to be kept slightly moist for the first 6-12 months depending on when it was planted.  The time of year that California Natives need the most water is winter, so hopefully Mother Nature will give you a hand.  Otherwise, the rule is water deeply and infrequently.  Let the soil dry out a little between waterings.  One to two times a week of deep watering should be sufficient.  Remember, the symptoms of overwatering resemble the symptoms of under watering, so always check the soil first.  If it is moist a couple of inches below the surface wait a little longer.  See our handy guide below.

 

Once your garden is established, you should only have to add supplemental water during a very dry winter.  And remember, natives are used to no summer water.  

 

Mulch is Key

Mulch helps to retain moisture, inhibit weeds and feed the soil.  California Natives are adapted to our soil and do not require any fertilizer.  In fact, fertilizer will cause excessive growth leading to a need for more pruning to keep them under control.  We want less work not more!  Be sure to apply more mulch yearly or as needed.  You can contact tree trimmers in your area and they will be happy to drop off (free of charge!) a load for you or you can sign up with Chip Drop, a service that connects gardeners with arborists.  (We do not have any personal experience with this company).

 

Pruning

Pruning Native plants prudently will keep them healthy and looking good.  Since different plants need pruning at different times of year, we have included a couple of resources to help you.  Remember you can “chop and drop”.  Meaning leave the plant material you prune off on the ground to mulch.

  • Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens  Spend some time exploring this site.  They have lots of good information.

  • California Native Plant Society

  • Manhattan Beach Botanical Garden - Chart with very specific instructions.

 

Watch these short informative videos from Be Water Wise.

 

Handy Guide

WATERING TIPS

  • Water plants by hand or with drip irrigation.

  • Watering too often causes more damage than under-watering.

  • Water infrequently, adding additional watering days only if plants look stressed.

  • Water deeply, but without causing runoff or water to pool at the base of plants.  Be sure to check that you are watering long enough for water to penetrate deep into the root zone.

  • Water during cooler hours, between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m., to conserve water.

  • Check the soil a few inches under the mulch. If it is moist, do not water.

  • Water for 1-3 years, throughout the year, to establish plants. After this, natives need very little water.

  • When establishing plants, water no more than 1-2 times per week.

  • After establishment, water very rarely (e.g., during a dry winter if plants look stressed); watering regularly or during the summer can shorten the lifespan of plants

 

IRRIGATION TIPS

  • You can convert spray heads to drip irrigation. Note that overhead irrigation (pop-up sprinklers, riser shrub heads, single or multi-stream sprinkler/rotors/nozzles) is not allowed or eligible for LADWP rebates.

  • When laying drip, be sure

  • Bury PVC pipe at least 4 inches in the ground.

  • Use schedule 40 or thicker PVC pipe and use “brown” above ground piping, which is resistant to UV rays.

  • Use weather-based irrigation controllers (WBIC) to automate seasonal irrigation adjustments.