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Homeowners and the California Drought of 2014

We hear a lot of news about the drought of 2014 in California but are you aware that it follows two of our driest years on record? Statistics show that 63% percent of the state is in extreme drought, and the Sierra Nevada snowpack is now running at just 10 to 30 percent of normal. You might be wondering why this is such a big deal. The pending water shortage can cause devastating wildfires and impact our economy in a variety of ways. It can even impact the real estate market. Here are some things you can do in your garden to help conserve water while still enjoying a beautiful landscape:
1. Let thirsty plants drink together
Group plants in your garden into specific watering zones. Tell your gardener that thirsty plants should be placed near your house where they can drink roof runoff. From there, create a “transition zone” further away from your home for plants that need supplemental drip irrigation. Concentrate on native plants by creating a “natural zone” on the outlying areas of your garden. These plants should be able to survive on rainfall alone.
2. Now is the time to plant and water
By planting new plants and transplants in early Spring, they will need far less water to establish a deep, healthy root system that needs less watering. You can also set your timer to water in the cool of the morning when there’s less evaporation from the heat. Do not water at dusk; as leaving wet foliage overnight can create fungus and mildew growth.
3. Healthy garden donuts
Mound several inches of soil around your trees into donut-shaped berms as a very efficient way to keep roots moist. The berms should be the width of the tree and filled to the top so that water can absorb slowly without running off. You can also ask your gardener to attach a drip irrigator bag to your trees that will release water slowly over several hours.
4. Make friends with the sun
We who are lucky enough to live in Santa Barbara need to make friends with the sun. Before planting anything, examine your own yard to determine the sunny spots vs the shady areas. In the sunny areas, use native plants while shade is a good place to plant anything that requires more water because evaporation is slower.
5. Plant drought resistant grass
A green lawn can drink 20,000 gallons of water or more each year. There’s a simple solution: just select drought-resistant varieties that require less water, and mow your lawn less often, keeping your grass long to shade the roots. Check out bermuda or buffalo grass.
If you are selling your house in Montecito or any of the surrounding communities I represent and have questions or concerns about your garden, please visit my website, give me a call at 805-886-9378 or email me at I look forward to working with you.

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