GrokSurf's San Diego

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Archive for the ‘Landscaping’ Category

City of San Diego issues reminder about outdoor watering restrictions

Posted by George J Janczyn on June 2, 2012

San Diego has been experiencing warmer weather already and summer isn’t even here yet. If you live on property that has landscaping, you’re probably going to use more water during the next few months.

So the City of San Diego released this timely news release to remind everyone that some of the water use restrictions in the city’s water use ordinance are permanent…drought or no drought.

One such permanent restriction dictates what time of day you may do outdoor watering.

The restricted hours vary a little depending on the season, but in a nutshell outdoor watering is permitted only in the early morning or late afternoon/evening. This law is intended to reduce water waste because a great deal of water is lost to evaporation when watering during the warmest hours of the day. Effective June 1, we’re now bound by the summer schedule specified in the ordinance.

I hope San Diego’s major news media will remind the city’s residents about this as well. Lately I’ve been seeing lawn sprinklers turned on at noon or even later during the warmest part of the afternoon. I’ve even seen lawns in city parks being watered during prohibited hours.

Some people seem to be unaware of the law prohibiting outdoor watering during the warmest time of the day (apparently including some employees at the Park and Recreation Dept.), or else they just don’t care.

Below is a copy of the official news release. If the text is too small for your eyes, you can expand the document to full-screen by clicking the rectangular button at the bottom right corner of the document window (don’t bother with the zoom [+] [-] tools, they won’t get you a full screen):


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Planting time

Posted by George J Janczyn on October 18, 2009

Brandegee's Sage

Brandegee's Sage

Anchor Bay Manzanita

Anchor Bay Manzanita

The California Native Plant Society had a plant sale at Balboa Park on Saturday and I came home with some Anchor Bay Manzanita and Brandegee’s Sage for our slope, which we keep fairly dry. I’ve noticed that when I look at drought-tolerant offerings at the local nurseries, they always seem to be well-watered, and the soil in the containers always quite moist. The same appeared to be true for the plants at the sale. This probably is not an original idea, but my plan is to keep the plants in the containers for a month or six weeks at the spot where I’ll plant them and keep water to a bare minimum. I’m guessing that should reduce the shock when they go into the soil for good, and they’ll appreciate whatever rain we get this winter that much more!

Posted in Landscaping, Water | 1 Comment »

Replanting for permanent water shortages

Posted by George J Janczyn on September 26, 2009

Now is a good time to start planning on a replacement for that water-hogging lawn. The cooler and wetter fall and winter months ahead will be less stressful for newly planted landscaping and there are lots of attractive alternatives. Here are a couple of places I’ve found to be inspirational and sprinkled with good ideas:

Chance of Rain

Lost in the Landscape

Plus, today’s LA Times has an interesting story.

And here’s a blurb for a forthcoming book on turning lawns into dry meadows:



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Water colors

Posted by George J Janczyn on August 18, 2009

Yesterday the LA Times printed a motivating opinion by Emily Green that encourages us to rethink our overgreen landscapes with an eye towards native plants. Ms. Green neatly points out:

First, that native plants have the good sense to become dormant from August through October, when heat is high and water is scarce. Second, we’d be well advised to plant gardens that follow suit … Tan is good; yellow is good; orange, maroon, gray, aquamarine are all good too, for those are the colors of the buckwheats, sages, manzanitas and deer and canyon grasses of our native chaparral

Here’s her entire opinion.

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Our fruity Ficus benjamina

Posted by George J Janczyn on August 15, 2009

About 20 years ago a friend gave me a small braided ficus tree in a pot, just about like this one:


After about a year, we transferred it to the empty slope in our back yard, along with a couple of potted pines (Christmas trees). For about a year we had it on a drip watering tube to get it established but we don’t need to irrigate it at all any more, even though it gets full sun all day (although the pines are getting taller and beginning to give it a little shade). I guess it’s over 25 feet tall now. I’m really glad we planted it well away from the patio because it has grown an impressive root system.


The funny thing is that for the first time in all these years, last July (2008) it began to produce hundreds, if not thousands, of little red berry-like fruit (inedible fig, I surmise) and dropping them like crazy producing a mess (or mulch heaven?) on the ground. This year it’s producing them again:


What puzzles me is why the tree would wait all these years before doing this, since nothing in its environment has changed. Any ideas?

Posted in Landscaping | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

San Diego Water Department Home Survey

Posted by George J Janczyn on August 12, 2009

When we purchased our home in 1987, we still remembered the severe drought in the 70s when San Diego was under mandatory restrictions. Since the house was in need of landscaping, right off the bat the decision was to stick to plants and trees that require a minimum of water. We decided against using automatic sprinklers, and do all watering by hand with a hose. A large slope in the back yard was the only exception, where we installed four sprinklers with water-conserving rotator nozzles…again, under manual control so that we chose when water was needed. The slope was nothing but freeway iceplant which we ripped out and replaced with a variety of things like rosemary, pyracantha, india hawthorne, honeysuckle, and red apple iceplant. We did splurge on a small patch of lawn, Marathon sod, which we were told was a low-moderate water user. Not really. We’ve since decided to give it up and replace it with something else. If you’re interested, here’s a catalog of what we have at the house.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Watering at night

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 19, 2009

I have a fairly large slope in my back yard with a variety of ground cover plants and some trees. Sprinklers are the only practical way for me to water the whole thing. I do use the low-water rotator nozzles that the water department recommends, and judge for myself when to water (subject to current rules, of course) instead of using automatics.

Just for illustration.  I water at night.

Just for illustration. I water at night.

Especially during these hot summer days, I can’t see any sense in firing up the sprinklers at 8 or 9am, only to see huge quantities of mist evaporate in mid-air right away and in short order the sun dries up the soil too. Instead, I usually choose 10 or 11pm. The next morning, the ground is still moist and I’m comfortable knowing that most of the water was absorbed into the ground and the plants had several hours to take advantage of the moisture. As for lawns, I’ve read that it’s best to water in the early morning so that the grass doesn’t stay wet for an extended period and become infected with something or other. On the other hand, I’ve read that morning watering extends the period of time that a lawn is wet because during the night it gets wet from dew.  For San Diego’s dry climate, I think night watering is the way to go.

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Describing our yard

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 5, 2009

Just for the heck of it (and to teach myself CSS skills) I made a web catalog of things we have planted around our house and posted it here. Please send donations with your suggestions <grin> .

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Oleander Leaf Scorch

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 2, 2009

If you are considering Oleanders for your drought-tolerant landscape, be aware that many plants in San Diego suffer from an incurable, infectious disease called Oleander Leaf Scorch. Once infected, a plant may survive for years, but it inevitably deteriorates and dies. We had five on a slope in our Del Cerro back yard, they all became infected, and over a period of about four years we lost all of them.  The problem is supposed to be worse in hot inland areas, but I’ve noticed quite a few dying in the I-5 median along Mission Bay.  In Escondido along I-15 almost all the Oleanders in the median are reaching advanced stages.

Information resources for Oleander Leaf Scorch

Posted in Landscaping | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Brown is the new green

Posted by George J Janczyn on July 1, 2009

A few days ago I posted some pictures of nice low-water landscaping in my neighborhood (June 26). Today I looked at how lawns are doing.

Water savings well underway

Water savings well underway

This began several years ago

This began several years ago

It's becoming a trend around here

It's becoming a trend around here

Can't figure why the green line; underground leak somewhere?

Why the green ribbon? - underground leak in water service line?

Perhaps brown lawns will become like a badge of honor. More likely, when this drought is over people will want their green lawns back and return to frequent watering. I’m hoping we’ll see an increase in low-water-use projects like the ones pictured in the June 26 post.

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