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By Times of San Diego

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Ten Tips for Saving Water While Protecting Your Garden

With the drought forcing mandatory water conservation, Armstrong Garden Centers released at list of ways to reduce water use while protecting gardens.

Armstrong said research shows that Californians use up to 50 percent more water than they actually need to maintain healthy gardens, and that gardens would benefit if watered less, but more effectively.

“Californians don’t necessarily need to change their gardens drastically in order to save money and water during the drought,” said Eric Asakawa, Regional Manager of Armstrong Garden Centers. “Instead, homeowners can change the way they water.”

The Glendora-based company offered the following tips:

1. Water early in the morning. Making sure sprinklers stop running by 8 a.m. will reduce evaporation and lessen the likelihood of water waste caused by wind interference. Watering early also reduces plant disease and water damage.

2. Mulch. Placing a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch on the soil surface around plants can save hundreds of gallons of water every year.

3. Repair and adjust sprinklers. Fixing damaged sprinklers immediately and checking pipes for leaks can save as much as 500 gallons of water per year.

4. Water deeper, but less often. Most gardens in California on automatic sprinklers are overwatered. Homeowners should change sprinkler systems to water every other day or every third day, while increasing watering times by only 50-75 percent.

5. Change watering times with the seasons. Homeowners can save huge amounts of water by adjusting automatic systems at least three times a year, according to the season. During periods of rain, it is vital to turn automatic systems off.

6. Use trigger sprayers when hand watering. Trigger sprayers help ensure that water is not wasted while watering gardens.

7. Minimize water loss in potted plants. Use water-retentive potting soils in all container gardens.

8. Add compost to soil. Adding store-bought or homemade compost to planting beds and pots will decrease the amount of water needed.

9. Use organic fertilizers. These fertilizers slowly release nutrients into the soil at a natural rate that matches a plant’s needs, so plants use less water.

10. Install a smart sprinkler controller. These computerized systems activate sprinklers via weather data and information about specifics of gardens. They can save over 40 gallons of water daily.

The San Diego County Water Authority board voted Thursday to begin mandatory water conservation because of the severity of the drought.


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