The dead of winter ushers in the season for garden planning! Think ahead for a water-smart, disease-resistant, energy saving landscape this spring!
Purchase a rain barrel to catch water from your roof and gutters. This water is great for hanging baskets and containers or you can connect it to a drip irrigation system for nearby gardens.
Learn how to turn your grass clippings, leaves and weeds into a beneficial organic compost. The City of Long Beach Environmental Service Bureau provides composting workshops every third Saturday of the month. Visit www.longbeach-recycles.org for more information or call 562-570-2876.
When planning your garden, use native plants whenever possible as they are more adapted to local soils and climate, thus require less additional water beyond the normal rainfall and need less maintenance and fertilizers. Drought-tolerant California plants include the Apricot Mallow, Golden Currant and California Snapdragon.
Reduce turf grass, and instead plant California native Deer Grass and/or synthetic grass.
- Your garden can have an exotic view made up of drought resistant trees, cactus and succulent plants which come in a variety of colors, textures and sizes. Drought tolerant plants thrive in Southern California’s natural desert conditions and are easy to maintain.
- Rock gardens dotted with barrel shaped cactus and blooming succulents can provide for a beautiful landscape all year long. Plant sedum in the crevices of rock walls and use ice plants, a fleshy foliage, for ground cover.
- Break off the tips of jade, black rose and kalanchoes and replant them in containers or vases to make beautiful houseplants or an indoor garden.
- In your landscape design planning, substitute concrete with natural stones and gravel which naturally absorbs water into the soil and helps eliminate excessive run off.
- Use a drip or trickle irrigation system instead of sprinklers, as both use a small amount of water that can be delivered directly to the root zones of plants.
- Consider container gardening which requires much less water and provides you with the freedom to relocate plants around your garden throughout the year.
Integrated pest management
- When planning your garden, select plants with natural pest resistance, which includes most succulents, California native bushes and trees and hardy shrub roses.
- A natural integrated pest management technique includes using predatory insects such as lady bugs and lacewings.
- Always try insecticidal soap or other non-toxic products before using a chemical pesticide. Some pests can be controlled by hand picking or spraying with a hard stream of water from a water hose.
- Compost your yard waste and vegetable trimming and use the finished material to enrich and improve your garden soil and as a mulch to save water and help control weeds.
- Organic fertilizers are naturally slow-release and are available for both lawns and gardens.
Jennifer Perez is an expert in interior plant care and design and owns “Growing Roots” located at 3940 4th Street, Long Beach. CA 90814. She is a member of Green Plants for Green Buildings, Plantscape Industry Alliance, TreePeople, the Wilderness Society, and Heal the Bay.