In Southern California, the gardening season can begin as early as mid-March. If you’re starting your garden, you will probably spend several days preparing your soil and transplanting new plants. But, once you’re done with that, there is one more step that you shouldn’t forget: laying down mulch.
Mulch provides an additional protective barrier between the environment and the roots of your plants, and can do so much for your garden.
Mulch can be made from organic matter or from non-organic materials. Organic mulch can be made from grass clippings, leaves, shredded bark or wood chips. Non-organic mulches include gravel, river rock or decomposed granite.
Organic mulches tend to be better weed barriers than non-organic varieties since seeds have an easier time slipping through rocks to the soil level. But, for the same reason, organic mulch also acts as a greater barrier to irrigation. Water finds its way to the soil much more easily if it can roll down the smooth surface of river rock than if it meets shredded wood, which can trap and absorb the water.
Mulch is not required for healthy plants, but the benefits make it worth the extra effort.
California experienced an exceptionally rainy season this year. All that precipitation, when combined with our usual warm spring temperatures, will likely lead to more weeds than normal in your garden this spring. If weeds become a problem, they can rob your flowers and vegetables of water, light, nutrients and root space.
Mulch protects your garden from weeds in two ways: It prevents seeds from reaching the soil, where they would take hold and germinate. It also reduces sunlight penetration to the soil surface, drowning out the light to those seeds that do find their way down.
Mulch insulates the soil to help regulate the temperature of plant roots. This keeps your plants in their optimal temperature ranges, even during the heat of the summer.
According the the EPA, the average American family uses 320 gallons of water per day. Approximately 30 percent (96 gallons) of that is used for outdoor irrigation.
Mulch reduces the water needs of your garden, cutting your monthly consumption and keeping your water bill down. Mulch slows evaporation to help the soil retain water, keeping roots moist longer. This is especially true if you choose an organic variety, since it will absorb water.
For even more water efficiency, consider replacing your spray sprinkler heads with drip irrigation, which delivers water underneath the mulch and practically eliminates evaporation.
Can add nutrients to the soil
Many people choose inorganic mulches, like stone, because they do not need to be replaced as often. However, these do not contribute to the life of your soil, or the growth of your plants.
Organic mulches break down over time. As the material slowly decomposes on top of the soil, the process can release nutrients that feed your plants. Shredded leaves and grass clippings are rich in nutrients, break down quickly, and are inexpensive (or free, if you get them from your own yard). Avoid using whole leaves, as they quickly form a dense mat of soggy, decaying matter that blocks out sunlight and oxygen.
Prevents soil compaction
Mulch helps prevent compaction of soil due to foot traffic. You work hard to make sure your soil is light and aerated. The addition of mulch provides a cushion that helps keep it that way, even as you plod about, tending to your plants.
Can help ward off bugs
Certain types of mulch, like cedar bark, have natural oils that repel many common garden pests, including slugs, moths and snails. Cedar mulch also prevents splashing during rainstorms, which can control the spread of fungus spores.
Conversely, very fragrant mulches can attract pests to your yard, so talk to your landscaper about what is best for your location.
Overall, mulch provides a multitude of benefits to your garden. And, there are a wide variety of materials and application methods. For best results, research to find out which options meet your needs. If you are looking for more information, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) provides a printable document covering everything you ever wanted to know about mulch. Check it out.
Every yard has unique irrigation requirements. Even within your own yard, you may have multiple zones with varied needs. Some zones might be shady and cool, while others are exposed to the hot sun for most of the day. Some areas may have loose, well-aerated soil, while others have rocky, tightly compacted dirt.
The watering needs of these diverse zones are best met using different approaches. Sprinklers are suitable for large, flat, open areas, but drip irrigation systems are the most efficient and precise water-delivery method for smaller areas.
Drip irrigation systems have many advantages over traditional sprinkler systems. These include...
They use 20 to 50 percent less water than conventional pop-up sprinkler systems. Sprinklers use high pressure to disperse water over large areas. They soak everything in their path and lose water to wind, sun and runoff. Drip systems, however, deliver low volumes of water, at low pressure, directly to individual plants. They minimize water lost to wind, runoff, evaporation and overspray.
They give you better-hydrated plants with less water consumption. Because water is delivered more slowly with drip systems, plants are watered more deeply. This encourages the establishment of healthy root systems that lead to more robust plants.
Drip systems are fully customizable. They provide the most efficient watering of different plant varieties in areas of any shape or size. They are also appropriate for plants that require a specific watering schedule.
They are ideal for heavy, dense soils like clay and loam. Drip systems deliver between one and four gallons of water per hour. A typical sprinkler head delivers approximately 3 gallons per minute. At such a fast watering rate, the water never has time to percolate down to the root zone in highly compacted soils. A slower water application rate helps your plants get more of the water you're giving them.
Drip irrigation minimizes plant diseases that arise from having excess water on the foliage. Because water is delivered only to the soil around the base of the plant, drip systems help eliminate the growth of fungi on your plants. (Incidentally, drip systems also eliminate the damage that sprinklers cause to buildings, fences and hardscapes.)
They help reduce the growth of weeds between plants. Since drip systems only water the areas around your plants, weed seeds will have a hard time getting the moisture they need for germination in any other spaces. And when you add mulch, your garden should have minimal weed issues.
Convert sprinklers to drip in as many areas as possible. Consider installing drip around trees, shrubs, and gardens in place of a conventional sprinkler system.
Perform proper maintenance. Check periodically to make sure all of your emitters are working as expected. Check for too much or too little watering. Check for broken or loose tubing. Clean clogged emitters and the filter. Make occasional adjustments to the placement of emitters. As your trees and plants grow, you should move emitters and add more if necessary.
Drip lines are designed to rest on top of the ground. They cannot be buried by soil or turf; however, they can be hidden by mulch. Covering with mulch has two primary benefits: Mulch helps prevent most water loss to evaporation, and maximizes the efficiency of your system. It also prolongs the life of your drip system, as leaving the lines exposed to the sun causes them to break them down more rapidly.
Group plants together based on the amount of water they need. Annual plants generally need a lot of water. Because they have intense blooms, they need a substantial amount of water but, because they have a short growing time, they never have time to develop deep roots that make them able to extract more water from deeper layers of the soil. Perennials, on the other hand, have time to grow extensive root systems, so they don’t require as much water once they become established. Mixing the two plant types will cause either drought stress of the annuals or over watering of the perennials.
If you are considering converting your sprinklers to drip irrigation, the MWDOC spray-to-drip rebate program could help reduce your costs. The current residential rebate is up to $175 per kit for up to three kits. Click here for more information.
Landscape irrigation leaks can be hard to detect, but they can cost you big. Even a small leak can waste as much as 6,300 gallons of water per month. That's enough water to take 252 ten-minute showers!
To keep your irrigation system efficient, and reduce water waste, follow these simple tips:
Thanks to automated controllers, irrigation systems usually run while most people are asleep. If it has been a while since you’ve witnessed your system in action, do a “wet check.” Turn the system on and walk through your yard, looking for leaks or broken sprinkler heads. Do this at least once a season, but up to once a month.
Observe your lawn immediately after you complete a watering cycle. Check for pooling water, which could indicate that you have an underground leak in the water line. Also look for erosion in your soil, which could be the result of a cracked or broken irrigation head. Broken heads are not technically a leak, but they can waste gallons of water every time your system operates.
Unusually lush or fast-growing grass in just one location -- especially around an irrigation head -- could be a sign that you have a leak. Alternatively, inexplicable dry grass could indicate that a break in one zone is robbing pressure from another zone, and it is not being watered correctly.
Slow leaks in irrigation pipes are exceptionally difficult to detect. You probably won't even know you have this type of leak unless you read your water bill. Look for a sudden spike in water consumption that is not related to indoor water use; it could be a clue that something is going on in your irrigation system. Pinpointing the source of the leak may require the services of a professional leak detection firm.
If you notice any of these problems, consult a licensed landscaper for a professional assessment of your irrigation system. Immediate repair could help you conserve water and save money, and it could save you from even larger leak-related problems down the road.
Placentia, Calif. – Yorba Linda Water District’s new Board Members were officially sworn into office on Thursday, December 8, just prior to the District’s regularly scheduled Board Meeting. The four new Directors, then took to the dais and the unanimously voted Dr. J. Wayne Miller as Board President. The Board also unanimously appointed Director Al Nederhood as Vice President. Director Andy Hall and Director Brooke Jones now join Director Phil Hawkins on the YLWD Board.
The New Director Bios:
Board President - Term: December 2020
Dr. J. Wayne Miller received a BS degree from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a PhD degree from the California Institute of Technology, both in Chemical Engineering.
Dr. Miller worked at UNOCAL for twenty years and then at Sunoco as VP of Technology and Development. There he was responsible for product innovation and technology implementation and managed a national race fuels business. He has held several national chair positions.
In 2001, he started teaching at UC-Riverside in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, including courses on water quality and processing. He is an advisor on the AQMD Clean Fuels Program and was a member of the OC Water District Citizens Desalination Committee.
In 2007, he was a member of a team that received a national EPA Climate Change Award.
Dr. Miller and his wife Wendy have resided in Yorba Linda for 35 years. They have three children and eight grandchildren.
Board Vice President - Term: December 2018
Director Nederhood is a retired college president. He was also president of the nonprofit, KidWorks, in Santa Ana. He has been married for forty-five years with four children and twelve grandchildren. He has lived in Yorba Linda for the past 30 years.
Director Nederhood graduated from Long Beach State University with a BA in History. He has a Secondary (grades 7 -12) Life Teaching Credential and Master’s Degree in Adult Education from Central Michigan University.
Board Director - Term: December 2020
Director Hall is a Supervising Engineer for the Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County. He has lived in Yorba Linda since 2012 and he and his wife have three children. He participates actively in his church and in the Boy Scouts of America.
Director Hall holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Engineering both from Utah State University.
Board Directors - Term: December 2018
Director Jones worked at Rockwell in Anaheim and Newport Beach as an engineer/manager for 30 years. Director Jones has been a Yorba Linda resident since 1978.
Director Jones earned a B.A. Degree in Physics from CSUF, and an M.S. Degree in Materials Science from the University of Southern California.
Notice is hereby given that on April 14, 2016, the Board of Directors will consider adoption of an Ordinance entitled: “ORDINANCE OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THEYORBA LINDA WATER DISTRICT REPEALING ORDINANCE NO. 15-01 AND ADOPTING AFLEXIBLE WATER SHORTAGE ADMINISTRATIVE PENALTY STRUCTURE”. This Ordinance establishes a flexible water shortage administrative penalty structure that will allow the Board of Directors to enact or suspend an appropriate stage of penalties based on a finding regarding the District’s customers’ water usage, the District’s water supply shortage stage under its water shortage contingency ordinance, the State Water Resources Control Board’s percentage of conservation mandate to the District, or any other finding consistent with the ordinance. A certified copy of the complete text of the Ordinance is posted and may be read at the Yorba Linda Water District’s Administration Building, 1717 East Miraloma Avenue, Placentia CA 92870 or on the District’s website (www.ylwd.com).