Did you know that the biggest water user in a typical household is not the shower or toilet, but your landscape? The district provides many (FREE!) resources surrounding landscapes because it is such a critical aspect of water conservation, especially in our dry Southern California region. Take a look through these pages and be sure to visit our Landscape Design Room at the Water Conservation Center, where we have the resources for you to get started on your own water wise landscape.
If you are interested in replacing your lawn with drought tolerant plants, the months of June through September are not the best time to install new plants. Drought tolerant plants use less water once established, but the first year of their installation requires regular watering. You will end up using the same amount of water as with turf, and likely losing plants, if you put them in during this time frame.
However, you can take steps to remove your lawn this summer. Instead of planting right away, you can apply a 3-4" layer of mulch to conserve moisture. Then plant in the cooler fall months to help plants get a 'leg up' with winter rains before the summer again.
IMPORTANT: Pay attention to mature trees!
Reducing your water use it fantastic; however, if you have mature trees in your landscape, it is likely that they are accustomed to receiving regular water. The trees will become stressed as irrigation is reduced and lawns are converted into drought-tolerant landscapes.
Common symptoms of drought stress in trees include:
Wilting or drooping leaves that do not return to normal by evening
Curled or chlorotic (yellow) leaves that may fold or drop
Foliage that becomes grayish and loses its green luster
Watering your trees infrequently, but deeply, can help them through the dry period. Take into account your microclimate, such as if the tree is surrounded by pavement or in a planter, your soil type, and the type of tree. If your tree or trees already look stressed, you can hire an arborist to evaluate the tree's health and recommend next steps.
Visit these links for more suggestions to help your trees survive the drought:
Quick Reference for Watering Your Landscape The Southern California Watering Index shows what percentage of water you should use to irrigate your landscape. 100 percent is used as a baseline: that is the hottest time of the year in Southern California, usually July-August. The percentage shown is how much water you should use on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.
This helpful reference shows you how many inches of water your lawn should need each month, depending on where you live and what kind of turf you have: Lawn Watering Guide for California