On January 17, 2014, Governor Jerry Brown declared California a state of emergency due to drought. California is facing the worst drought in years and every Californian is being asked to reduce their water by 20%. For most homeowners, the biggest water user is green grass. Sprinkler heads come in different sizes. Therefore, the rate of flow will be determined by the head-size, the frictional losses in the supply pipework, and the head of water available. Lawn sprinklers are usually small pop-ups putting out 1.5 to 2 gals. per minute. For example, if each valve is operating 10 sprinklers at 1.5 gals per sprinkler, you are using 15 gallons of water per minute. (10 x 1.5 =15 gallons per minute.) Let’s say you run your sprinklers for 10 minutes each day. That is 150 gallons of water per day! No matter how you add it up, that’s a lot of water!
The easiest way to reduce water is to reduce green grass. Drought tolerant plants adapt easily to our California landscape and require water infrequently once established. Even better are the California native plants which cannot tolerate drip irrigation and many need almost no irrigation at all. A light watering to clean off the leaves is often sufficient. Another plus is that many native plants are fire resistant, reducing the risk of wildfire around your home. Native plants provide natural habitats for native birds, hummingbirds, bumble bees and butterflies.
The top ten natives most easily grown in the Southern California garden are: Pigeon Point, California Lilacs, Blue-Eyed Grass, which can be used a ground cover, Coffeeberry, which provides berries for native birds, Deer Grass, Manzanitas, Monkey flowers, Penstemons, Salivias and California Fushias. Aside from Deer Grass, they all produce beautiful flowers and add beauty to your garden as well as reducing your use of water.