Why you'll want to get your hands on this free gardening book

Those weed fabrics and barriers that you just spent the weekend putting down? They’re great at cutting back on weeds in the short term.

In the long term? Not so much. Weeds will eventually work their way back into the garden, and then you have two messes to clean up — the weeds and the battered barriers.

That’s the kind of wisdom you’ll get from a free new book available online called “California Friendly.” Written by ecological land manager Douglas Kent, it provides practical, easy-to-follow tips for creating a Southern California lawn and garden that will use less water — and thrive.

Kent said the book grew out of his work on a demonstration garden featuring California native plants. Many of the plants were struggling or had died because of improper maintenance, over- or under-watering and less-than-ideal planting conditions, he said. So Kent began noting his maintenance suggestions and, soon enough, a book was born.

It is now available to the public through a collaboration between the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Southern California Gas.

Kent said the book is being made widely available because too many new drought-resistant landscapes are failing, “which completely undermines the conservation movement. That’s why we didn’t copyright, so if your water agency needs new content, for instance, they can just hijack this. We’re trying to make this available to everyone.”

Here are a few tips from Kent about how to beat back those weeds:

—Curb weeds with at least 4-inches of “woody, coarse mulch,” preferably from eucalyptus or other oily trees.

—Decomposed granite — so popular in the drought garden — is a perfect incubator for weeds. So consider pea gravel or rock chips instead.

—Plan on weeding at four week intervals. Not exactly fun, but stay on top of weeds with regular sessions, and you will be rewarded for your efforts.

If you like books that you can put on a shelf, you can get your free copy by attending a “California Friendly” gardening workshop, which you can find by entering your ZIP Code at BeWaterWise.com.

Or you can get an online copy by going to BeWaterWise.com and clicking on “Toolkit.” From there, you’ll get a PDF version of the book.

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