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Ideas for water-wise gardening during a drought

GardeningLifestyle and LeisureDroughts and Heat WavesWater Supply
How Joy Us Garden blogger Nell Foster maintains a succulent-filled oasis during drought

Home gardeners in drought-stricken Southern California face a challenge: How to keep landscapes looking good while cutting back on water use. For ideas, we're talking to landscape and garden professionals to see how they are adapting in their own yards.

Watering wisely

Joy Us Garden blogger, author and video personality Nell Foster converted her Santa Barbara garden into a drought-tolerant, succulent-filled oasis years ago. She's experienced at keeping water use to a minimum.

For her container plants, Foster uses only gray water. "I keep a pail to the side of my kitchen sink, and all my rinse water goes into the pail," she said. "It's safe because I only use Earth-friendly household products. Because I'm a vegetarian, I seem to have a lot of produce to wash. It's amazing how much water I get that way."

And she sets her irrigation system to water at 4 a.m. "Early in the morning before sunrise is the best time to water because that's when the water pressure is the highest and the air is coolest," she said.

She suggests swapping out thirsty annuals for flowering perennials. "Salvias, penstemons and pelargoniums can replace impatiens and begonias. The perennials will root much deeper than the annuals and take drier soil. I've also used lobelia, which I have found to be fairly drought-tolerant. It re-seeds in the driveway cracks, after all."

And a tip on garden maintenance: "Don't do any unnecessary pruning of trees and shrubs during drought. The larger tree canopies shade plants beneath them, plus pruning during drought can stress plants.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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