Millions of people have been drawn to Los Angeles for the pleasant warm weather that graces us for more of the year than nearly anywhere else in the United States. California also has the highest biodiversity in the country along with Hawaii. We are privileged to be able to grow a greater variety of plant species than most states; however, we must keep in mind the issues that come with the territory to optimize conservation of our unique resources and limited water.
First, hydrozone by grouping plants according to their water needs. Drought-tolerant or native plants create a low-maintenance landscape. Also, plants that adapt to dry summers do not need much water after a few seasons of planting.
Thirdly, in caring for soil, compost improves moisture retention and fertility, while mulch placed around plants and along walkways and other bare areas reduces weeds and slow erosion.
Furthermore, as residential yard waste adds up to over 20% of what is sent to Los Angeles County landfills, recycling kitchen scraps and yard waste is a great way to reduce this figure. By developing simple conservational habits, you can help preserve the environment and be rewarded with beautiful lawns and gardens.
Mow often enough so that no more than 1/3 of the length of the grass blade is cut, allowing clippings to fall easily through to the surface. This also aids the grass roots in accessing proper air and water. Overly tall grass can block its own root system from accessing air and water, while cutting grass too short can deplete its food reserves. During the active growing months (spring and fall or 60-75 degrees Farenheit for cool-season grasses and summer and early fall or 80-95 degrees Farenheit for warm-season grasses), food production is high, and the plant is able to store excess food. During periods of stress or dormancy such as mowing or drought, the plant draws upon these reserves. Lawns with severely reduced surface areas are subject to high heat damage, disease, wear stress and a thinned-out appearance.
Smartgardening.com recommends the following heights:
Fescue, Ryegrass & Buffalo grass: 2-1/2"
Bermuda (common, Kikuyugrass, Dwarf Tall Fescue, St. Augustine, Zoysia & Blue: 1-1/2"
Bermuda (Hybrid) & Seashore Paspalum: ¾"
For more tips or to attend a Smart Gardening Workshop to learn more about water-wise gardening and grass recycling, as well as composting, worm composting, and fire-wise gardening, check out www.Smartgardening.com or call their toll free hotline at 1-(888)-CLEAN-LA.