Plumeria by Craig Jewell
Southern California is in its fourth year of drought. Residents need to take a close look at water usage and fire-safe conditions around their homes. Rainfall in Los Angeles County is way below normal, around 64 percent of its average total. The last four-year stretch was 1985 to 1989.
Couple those figures with the intense wildfires of the past few years, there is a growing concern for water usage. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa signed new drought rules into law that limits times for residents and businesses to water lawns. Restaurants cannot automatically serve water to customers.
To not waster water, homeowners can schedule gardening times to before peak times, 9 AM and after 4 PM and only on Mondays and Thursdays. This is a good idea and will not harm healthy lawns and gardens. One deep watering per week keeps plants and grass alive and well.
Try re-cycling household water by saving dishwater. Instead of using the dishwasher, wash dishes and pots by hand. For rinsing, fill a large container with clean water and use it to get rid of soap residue. When the rinse water gets soapy, take it outside and pour into the flowerbed or around trees. You can also use it to mop floors or clean appliances and tubs. If you dare take it a step further, use it to flush toilets. Not flushing after every use saves tons of water and is sanitary as long as the toilet does not contain fecal matter.
If the landscape around a home is dry, it needs to be removed because watering is not the best option. It is a great time to think about putting in drought-tolerant plants like lavenders, cactus and roses. Yes, roses. Lavender will go almost a year without one drop of water and, for sure, cactus is a winner with no water. Roses do not do well with a lot of wetness and once a week or less makes a beautiful product.
As far as fruits, grapes produce in abundance through a drought. The care you take with them is to limit the amount of growth, which produces a larger fruit per stem. Oranges and lemons love these conditions too. Leave them alone and they bear large, juicy fruits.
Plumeria and honeysuckle bushes send out intense fragrances at night as a thank-you for not over watering. Their growth speed up as the roots seek moisture and the flowers seem to double in the amount of blooms and scent.
Cannas not only sprout using less water, they survive well in dry clay dirt out of direct sunlight. Amaryllis only require good watering during the winter. After their blooms die, they do not require care unless a second crop is wanted.
Adhering to the new laws will not ruin lawns and gardens. Following the suggestions and rules for water usage in Los Angeles will give you a new spin on creative layouts and plants. Four years of below average rainfall is serious and requires leaning more towards what is good for all of us.