Not more than a couple weeks ago I was here at the computer wearing wool socks. The heater was on and I was glad—freezing outside, and it was hailing in Auburn. On Memorial Day weekend there were chain controls on I-80 and at one point they closed the road completely. There was news of fire, flood, tornado, torrential rains, snow with chain controls and other weather catastrophes from one end of this country to the other. It was still winter! Then I spied big purple morning glories wrapped around half the plants on the back porch and thought, hmmmmm, these don’t usually bloom til June………
So, it is/was a quasi-June summer and winter combined—a tricky little thing Mother Nature likes to do to us here in the foothills every now and then. Then, like a thief in the night, she sneaks in and turns on the heat. We awake to wilted and unhappy plants everywhere because so many of us were totally unprepared for something we knew was coming—absolutely knew was right around the corner. What looked great a couple weeks ago may or may not look so wonderful now. Believe me—some of those plants are on my own porch, fried like bacon. So don’t worry if you got caught off guard.
If you have not gotten around to looking at your irrigation system yet, don’t expect it to be psychic and know which plants need immediate attention and which could go for some weeks more without water. Although it is not the ideal situation, purchase a good-quality hose nozzle and go water your pots and container plants a.s.a.p. They will always dry out ahead of things in the ground. You can use mulch on container plants to reduce moisture loss but they will still require attention as the sides of the pots heat up, and so does the soil inside—sometimes to over one hundred degrees.
Talk to your maintenance person or gardener and ask them to check all the valves and sprinkler heads for proper operation. This is a very good time to have your local water provider—there is a full color map showing who your water provider is at www.bewatersmart.info ; click “Find your water provider”! You can contact them for a FREE visit to check your water meter’s leak detector (yes there is one—isn’t that wonderful?) water consumption, both inside and out, and also take advantage of rebates of many kinds. This is an invaluable service for those of us not born with the knowledge of how to do these things, i.e., most of us.
If you are familiar with your controller, do something bold and reduce each of your station run times by only two minutes. They are probably running twice as long as they need to be anyway, so two minutes will in no way adversely impact your landscape. You can also reduce your present watering days by one. Most landscapers set the controller to be “off” on mow day, but an extra “off or “no run” day will also beneficial. As I mentioned above, unless you’ve already got all this down to a science, you’re (still) likely watering too much. It will save water, however, and YOUR money—another win-win situation for you and the quest for wise and logical water conservation. When you complete this little task, you are on the way to the land of the Blue Thumbs! These are very minor adjustments that will reap large rewards. Timing is everything in irrigation and if your timing is “spot on”, your lovely and wisely watered landscape, large or small, will reflect the virtues of water conservation— without changing another thing.