Fall is a great time to install a water efficient garden

As the leaves on the trees have started to turn yellow, we know that fall is here.  Here in the Silicon Valley in California, quite some  lawns are also brown.  Though California’s historic drought already ended in spring, many people keep the habit of water conservation and continue to let the lawns go brown.  While this shows we have all been doing our part to conserve water which we can be proud of, the lawn, well, can look a little bit nicer……here comes the good news:  fall is a very good time to remove the lawn, plant water efficient plants and have a beautiful garden! Not only is the time great for plants, thanks to landscape conversion rebate programs such as the one offered by Santa Clara Water District, by doing it now, you may also receive some rebates.

Brown Lawn

Fall is one of the best times for planting

Fall is one of the best times in the year for planting. There are several reasons for this.

  • Temperature.  Very cold winter and very hot summer days can be harsh for young plants.  Fall offers the optimal temperature.
  • In time for the rainy season.  After plants are placed in soil, to establish and grow in the new place, they need the soil to be wet enough so the roots can stabilize and grow.  With California’s Mediterranean climate, the rainy season comes in winter and early spring.   When planted in fall, the plants have the right amount of time to settle in the new environment, and take the full advantage of rains when they come in winter.
  • Great for spring bloomers.  A lot of plants bloom in spring.  If they are planted in fall, by next spring some of them may grow enough to bloom. Blossom in spring – what a lovely view!
  • Good for pollinators.  Most of the plants in a water efficient garden can provide food for bees, butterflies and other pollinators, which are so important for us.  However, their population have been on a decline.  Bees need more plants that they can feed on.  By growing plants in fall, come spring time bees will have much more places to go to have their meal.
Many beautiful plants to choose from

There are a large collection of plants that are both water efficient and beautiful.  If the lawn is replaced with plants that are on the Qualifying Plant List of Santa Clara Water District Landscape Rebate Program, it is eligible to receive the rebate of $1 per square feet.  Browse some of these water efficient plants here.

Flower

Planted in fall, bloom in spring

These two gardens were planted in last fall, after just a winter, they all grew phenomenally and bloomed in spring this year.   Last winter was one of the wettest on record, which definitely helped.

This California native garden was installed last October.  How long did it take to bloom?  Less than half year!  And it lasted all the way through summer.

Fall
Oct
Spring
May
Flower in spring
May

This garden was installed in late last fall.  It also bloomed in early spring, just several months after the installation.

Garden in Dec
Dec
Flower in spring
May
Conserve water, enjoy the garden

A beautiful garden is not only something you can enjoy everyday, but will also go a long way to conserve water.  Although California’s drought already ended, as Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement, “This drought emergency is over, but the next drought could be around the corner.  Conservation must remain a way of life.”

Outdoor watering for a lawn typically accounts for half or more of an household’s total water use; to convert a lawn to a water efficient garden, the water consumption for outdoor watering can be reduced by 30 to 60%, for total household 15 -40%.

You may receive rebate by removing the lawn and putting in water efficient plants now ($1 per square feet if all requirements are met).  Find out more about the Santa Clara Landscape Conversion Rebate Program here.

Water saving by water efficient garden Why wait?  Now is the great time to plan and build that lovely water efficient garden!  Find out more information at WaterEfficientGarden.com.

water efficient garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Brown to Floral Dream

“I want to get rid of the brown lawn, like yesterday!  and I want a garden of flowers!  ” declared Sheena (not the real name), the owner of the house and a mom of young girls.

lawn2watereffigarden

 

The brown lawn had been an eye sore to Sheena for a long time.  Like so many other Californians, she stopped watering the lawn when the state implemented the drought Emergency Regulation.  The lawn turned brown and did not look good.  Sheena wanted to do something about it, but had no clue where to start.  When she was told about the Santa Clara Landscape Conversion Rebate Program, she could not wait to get onboard.

Designing the Garden

Sheena wanted a garden of flowers boasting of strong, festival colors, like red, purple, and orange.  “It’s a garden for my princesses!”  She also likes different types of grasses as nice decorations.

Plants of Beautiful Flowers

It is a blessing that many drought tolerant plants do have very beautiful flowers.  It was quite easy to pick the plants that Sheena wanted from a big collection.

Mexican Bush Sage:  With its big volume of bright purple blossom (with some white blended in), it is the kind of plants that you will notice right away.   Drought tolerant once established, it blooms for a long time from summer to late fall, providing incessant color and beauty to your garden.

img_0459

Lion’s Tail: brings a festival feel.

lions-tail-2

New Zealand Flax:

img_0464

Red Hot Poker

red-hot-poker-2

Erigeron:  Tough, drought tolerant, pretty blossom.

erigeron

Mulch

Mulch is a must for any water efficient garden.   After all the plants are planted, a layer of mulch is placed on the surface to 1) keep the soil moist and 2)reduce evaporation.  Mulch can reduce evaporation by as much as 75%, so is a very important element for any garden that aims to conserve water.

Organic mulch such as chipped bark is a good choice.  In addition to keeping the water in soil, they can add to the soil’s richness once composed.  This is critical for the health of the soil and the growth of the plants.

There are different colors of mulch, and the choice was easy for Sheena. The garden is already filled with flowers of all pretty colors, with the mulch, it is further enhanced to this other level of prettiness and excitement.

Rain Sensor

A rain sensor and automatic controller were also installed with the garden. When it rains, the sensor can send the signal to the controller, which will delay the watering scheduled, saving irrigation water for the garden.  Rain sensor is another great way to make a garden water efficient.

img_0445

The project was finished within a week, and the total cost was less than $3000.  The rebate made it substantially lower.

Sheena was very happy.  “My princesses like the garden!”  Sheena is glad now the brown lawn is gone, and she and her princesses have this big beautiful view to enjoy everyday.  In addition, “It saves me a lot of money. We use much less water now, and no longer need to hire hands for maintenance.”

 

waterefficientgarden1

 

From Brown to California Native Charm

The brown lawn has been an eye sore to the owner of the house for quite a while.  He had been wanting to replace it with something more beautiful, but did not know where to start.   Since California’s drought five years ago, he put in his effort to conserve water, turning off the sprinklers. Sure enough, the lawn went brown.  He heard about Landscape Conversion Rebate Program, but did not know how it worked.

Water Efficient Garden Conversion

When he had a chance to talk to the designer, he was happy to find out everything would be taken care of from end-to-end.  Not only will they design a water efficient garden to replace the lawn, but also take care of the program application paperwork.  Hassle free – that was exactly the way he wanted.

Designing the Garden

The owner favored a natural and easy look for the garden; he also had some pebble stones from his last project, which he would like to repurpose for the new garden.

The designer decided to do a “California Native” garden.  The selection of plants showed this focus.

California Native Plants

California has many native plants, which are great for gardening.  Adapted to California’s dry and windy environment, they are hardy, strong and can thrive without any care.  There are a lot of benefits gardening with native plants:

  • Water efficient:  they do not need that much water; compared to a lawn, a garden with mostly native plants can save a significant amount of water;
  • Low maintenance: they can thrive on their own; no or little care is needed.
  • Attracting pollinators:  the bees, birds and butterflies sure like the plants that they know well for tens of thousands of years.  Those bees and birds need more food, and this will provide them.

These California Native plants are picked for this garden.

Douglas Iris:  beautiful blue iris, native to areas along west coast.

Native Plants for a Water Efficient Garden

Buckwheat: pretty small pink flowers will bloom most of the year, its nectar is the favorite of butterflies.

Monkey Flower: The full yellow blossom can be seen everywhere along the coast in spring and summer.  Some cultivars have bright red flowers, which are equally pretty.

California Poppy: the golden state flower.

CA Golden Poppy

Matilija Poppy

Native Plants for a Water Efficient Garden

The designer included the design into application materials and submitted it.  2 weeks later they received the Notice to Proceed.

Installing the Garden

All the materials were purchased.

IMG_5666_1

The brown grass was first removed.

Next was to create a miniature “nature”.  The curves for “mountains” were added, and a “river” was made with the cobble stones.

Then the piping was done, all the plants planted.  The whole area was covered with black mulch, which contrasts nicely with the river and the colors of the flowers.

WaterEfficientGarden

The California native plants: Douglas Iris, Golden Poppy, and Monkey Flower

IMG_6634

Irrigation Equipment Upgrade

Along with the lawn conversion approval, the garden also qualified for an upgrade with automatic irrigation controller and rain sensor.  Both were installed after the garden.

With the rain sensor, when it rains, it will detect and transfer the information to the controller, which will shut off the next watering scheduled.   This way the irrigation water can be saved.

IMG_6654

It rained right after this was installed.  It worked!

IMG_6657

Within a couple days, a brown lawn was successfully transformed to a beautiful water efficient garden.  The eye sore is gone, and the owner has something nice to enjoy and more to look forward to.

G1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fall is a great time to install a water efficient garden

IMG_5638

After a 5 year historical drought in California, many houses’ lawns have gone brown.  While this shows we are all doing our part to conserve water which we are all proud of, the lawn, well, can look a little bit nicer……Here comes the good news:  fall is a very good time to remove the lawn, plant water efficient plants and have a beautiful garden!  Not only is the time great for plants, thanks to landscape conversion programs such as the one offered by Santa Clara Water District, by doing it now, you may also receive some rebates.

DSC_0305

Fall is one of the best times for planting

Fall is one of the best times in the year for planting. There are several reasons for this.

  • Soil moisture good for the roots.   After plants are placed in soil, to establish and grow in the new place, they need the soil to be “wet” enough so the roots can establish.   As fall and winter are the wet season in California, and combined they can last several months long,  roots have the right environment and time to adjust and grow.
  • Temperature.  Very cold winter and very hot summer days can be harsh for young plants.  Fall offers the optimal temperature.
  • Great for spring bloomers.  A lot of plants bloom in spring.  If they are planted in fall, by next spring some of them may grow enough to bloom. Blossom in spring – what a lovely view!
  • Good for pollinators.  As their population dwindle, bees need more plants that they can feed on.  By growing plants now, come spring time bees will have much more places to go to have their meal.

 

Many beautiful plants to choose from

There are a large collection of plants that are both water efficient and beautiful.  If the lawn is replaced with plants that are on the Qualifying Plant List of Santa Clara Water District Landscape Rebate Program, it is eligible to receive the rebate of $1 per square feet.  Browse some of these water efficient plants here.

IMG_5642

Conserve water, enjoy the garden

A beautiful garden is not only something you can enjoy everyday, but will also go a long way to conserve water.  As California enters its 6th year of drought, we all need to do our part to conserve water.

Outdoor watering for a lawn typically accounts for half or more of an household’s total water use; to convert a lawn to a water efficient garden, the water consumption for outdoor watering can be reduced by 30 to 60%, for total household 15 -40%.

You may receive rebate by removing the lawn and putting in water efficient plants now ($1 per square feet if all requirements are met).  Find out more about the Santa Clara Landscape Conversion Rebate Program here.

SaveWater

Why wait?  Now is the great time to plan and build that lovely water efficient garden!

IMG_6049

 

 

 

 

 

Measure and calculate the size of your yard

Saving water by converting a lawn to a water efficient garden

We are still in a drought, and still need to conserve water.  One of the most effective ways to conserve water is to convert a lawn into a water efficient garden.  By doing so, not only will you save water, you might also be eligible for receiving rebate(s) from various rebate programs offered by water agencies or cities you live in.

Find out the size of your garden

The first step of any garden planning is to find out its size.  Here is a simple guide.

1. Find out the yard’s shape

Most yards are of the shape of rectangle, triangle, circle or semi-circle, or a combination of these shapes.  If the shape is a combination, break them into separate shapes.

2. Determine which measurements are required for the calculation, and obtain them. For example, length and width are required for a rectangle.

3. Do the calculation.

Below are some sample garden shapes and how the sizes can be calculated.

a. Size = a*b

p1

b. Size = (a*b)/2

p2

c.  Size = (a*b) + (a*c) /2

p3

Capture

p4

Actual Examples

Here are some actual examples.

This yard basically can be considered as a rectangle.  The measurements can be obtained along its long and wide borders, then the size can be calculated.

p5rec

This yard can be broken into a rectangle and a semi-circle.  It can be calculated using the formula in d) above.

p6scircle

A fun math project

If you have teens at home who just studied their geometry, this can be the perfect opportunity for them to apply what they learned!

After you determine the shape, take the measurements, and apply the formulas, you can easily find out the size of your yard.  With the size known, you can proceed to the next step of the planning for a water efficient garden.