s u s t a i n a b l e l i f e Water conservation is an everyday part of gardening in the Napa Valley Article by Brent Heb Photographs by Lowel Downey/ Art & Clarity GetWISE toWATER 52 www.nAPAVA L L E Y L I F Emagaz ine. c om While native plants are important, because we live in a microclimate, some are better than others. Depending on your soil and location, here are a few of the native plant species I use. 1. Arctostaphylos (manzanita) 2. Ceanothus (California Lilac) 3. Salvia (sages) 4. Heuchera (coral bells) 5. Lavendula (lavender) species for drought resistance 5 2 www.nAPAVA L L E Y L I F Emagaz ine . c om The drought we are experiencing, even in a wet February, challenges me to achieve beauty in landscaping while being water-wise. California native plants are essential in my designs. A drought-tolerant plant, like lavender and sage, can help us save money and even turn off the irrigation. Landscaping must consider the shade and sun pattern around the property. The soil needs to be well balanced and amended, and a heavy mulch (3-4 inches thick) is applied to retain moisture. Proper mulching can reduce watering demand to only once a week in the hottest parts of summer. Much water can be lost to evaporation, and wasted by over-watering. During the heavy rain cycle, water catch systems like rain barrels can store water for drier months. The County of Napa is offering incentives for businesses and homes to put in rain barrels. They are relatively easy for a landscaper to install. In my garden, I grow salad greens that require minimal watering. Typically water really isn’t an issue in the winter. This year, we know, is a different story. I cover my garden rows with Remay or Agribond, which is a frost protection fabric that creates a “greenhouse” effect to your rows. This allows me to water once every two weeks. The soil retains moisture because of the cold weather and the protection of the fabric. It keeps the humidity/moisture inside as well as generates heat for better growth and faster propagation. When you lay out the rows, harvest the most light from the sun. Once your rows are created and amended with compost, manure and quality soil, lay down your drip lines. Then plant seeds, mulch and last, water. My garden will grow this way from October to March/April. As spring hits and the weather heats up, I trade out the frost protection fabrics for shade fabric. What does it mean to be water -wise? As a landscaper and contractor, being water- wise is a part of every project that I take on. When I sit down with my clients, I think from the construction side as well as the landscape side, from the position of the family children and the family dog.
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