Weather that drives you to the nozzle

Posted on | February 16, 2012 | No Comments

Source: NOAA. Click on the map to be taken to the Climate Prediction Center.

With rainfall across Los Angeles less than half the putative average for this time of year, and forecasts making discouraging noises about the prospects for a “March miracle,” it’s time for dry gardeners to water.

As odd as it sounds to be prescribing irrigation after light rains blew through and before summer heat, for lack of meaningful precipitation, late winter is the time to charge unnaturally dry ground. The soil is still porous, so there should be no run-off. Shorter and cooler days check evaporation and native and Mediterranean gardens are growing now, so they need a drink before they slip into summer dormancy in May.

But use caution. This is by no means a recommendation for a return to lawn-style frequent and light watering. It’s not about pushing a lot of new growth. It’s a recommendation to apply water occasionally, slowly and deeply. Irrigating now won’t make up the five to ten inches of rain missing across most of Southern California. This is merely about charging the soil so that when heat comes, you’re not battling wilt. To read more about best planting and watering practices in dry years, click here to crib from an old piece written in advance of a previous “La Nina” forecast.

How much water you put on your garden and when is of course dictated by zone, planting scheme and soil. For guides about coming up with the most resilient garden with the thriftiest irrigation, there is no better source than Bob Perry’s Landscape Plants for California Gardens.

 

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