Friday, May 28, 2010

See 47 Different Drought Tolerant Plants at CCWD's Garden

You can now identify 47 different types of drought-tolerant plants living and growing in CCWD's Demonstration Garden

Completed in 1991 and undergoing the final stages of a much-needed upgrade, CCWD's water-efficient District Center Garden is one of 78 Demonstration Gardens in California recognized by the Water Education Foundation, The Bureau of Reclamation and the California Urban Water Conservation Council.

Most recently, we've added labels and tags for all the plants found in the garden. In addition, there's a list of the plants on the signboard next to the entrance to the building. So if you like a particular type of plant, just check it off the list and take it to your nursery.

The garden is designed to show homeowners and businesses that by planting wisely, they can continue to have a beautiful landscape that uses very little water. You can see everything from the "Torch Lilly" to "Catherine's Lace" and "Bottlebrush Little John."

A path winds through the garden of natives, exotic shrubs and perennials. Plants were selected for their suitability to the local climate, soil and for low maintenance.

The garden is about an acre in size, and uses about half of the water of the expansive lawn it replaced in 1991....and doesn't need to be mowed every week!

The garden is located at 1331 Concord Ave. in Concord near Buchanan Field.

Want to know more about native plants, look at our online guide to "Gardening in Contra Costa County."

Increase Sprinkler Days As Temps Go Up

It's hard to believe we are still receiving rain in late May, so turn on your sprinkler system once the rains have stopped. When you do turn your system on, program it for the following number of days per week during June:

  • Lawns & High Water Use Plants – 3 to 4 days per week

  • Trees, Shrubs, and Groundcovers - 2 days per week

For lawns and high water use plants, start out the month with 3 days per week once the soil isn’t saturated from recent rains. Increase from 3 days to 4 days per week if required as temperatures increase later in the month.

For more information on irrigation scheduling and water conservation programs, visit

Friday, May 14, 2010

Time to Think About Restarting Your Home Irrigation System

The late spring rains have kept the hills in Contra Costa County green, and have also been a blessing for home and business owners.

But the storms are finally tapering off and the long spring days mean it's time to look at restarting your automatic irrigation systems.

Before you do anything, check to make sure your system is working as it should and there no leaks, broken or plugged emitters. Also, make sure the emitters are all pointing in the right direction. Run them all briefly to make sure all is working correctly.

The next thing to do is to look at your soil and determine if it really needs water. Unless you know your yard very well, there is no easy to tell. The obvious is to look for muddy or wet spots on your lawn. If you have wet spots, you probably don't need to resume watering just yet.

One method many people have used for years is called the "screwdriver test" where you plunge a large screwdriver into your lawn. Depending on how much resistance you have, you'll know if you need to start watering again. If the screwdriver slides in pretty easily, you don't need to water. But if it's difficult, you should look into watering.

Of course, different types of plants and soil -- and how much sun your yard gets - will change the results of the test, so you'll have to use a lot of discretion. Even though it's not precise, this easy test will give you a clue as to how badly your yard needs water.

CCWD Water Conservation Specialist Bob Eagle said the water for irrigating the small lawns on the District's own Demonstration Garden was turned on for the first time this year last week, and this week the water will be turned on for the trees and some of the shrubs. He said he doesn't expect to need to turn on the sprinklers in some areas of the nearly one-acre garden until late June or even July.

In most cases, he said, it should be time to start irrigating most yards, especially those facing south.

When you do water, please follow our newly-updated guide. If you're one of those people who wants even more detail than we provide in our guide, look here and our "Gardening in Contra Costa County" site

In addition, sign up for our new e-mail watering reminder. Every month we'll remind you that its time to adjust your automatic sprinklers.

Cash For Appliances Still Going Strong

The state's "Cash for Appliances" program is generating a lot of interest in buying new washing machines....and there is still money available.

If you pick a high-efficiency washer that is on the state's approved list and CCWD's approved list, you can get both the CCWD Clothes Washer Rebate and the state rebate.

The new washer will help you save a lot of water.

Your salesperson can help you apply for both rebates, but you can check which machines qualify for the CCWD program here.

Here's the state's list.