We haven't had any measurable rain in Concord since Jan. 13, and that was just a tiny bit. While the weather has been absolutely pleasant, the soaking wet days of November and December seem like a long time ago and there is no rain in the immediate forecast.
Is it time to water your lawn or garden again, even in January?
While we've seen sunny weather, the days are -- of course-- short and very cool compared to the middle of summer.
We suggest you check your soil before unrolling the hose. Pick up a clump of dirt in your hand, and feel for moisture. Use your hand shovel to dig around a little and see if there's moisture in the soil. Check in several places.
If you've put mulch around your shrubs and trees, these areas particularly should still be moist. Especially if your yard faces toward the south, it may be getting dry.
If Needed, Go Ahead & Water Your Lawn
If the soil's moist, of course, you don't need to water.
If it's dry, you may want to hand-water with a hose or turn your sprinklers on for a short time. You will not need a lot of water, so don't turn the sprinklers on and leave them running for a long time.
Use This Time To Check Your Sprinkler System
While the sprinklers are running, it's a good time to check your entire sprinkler system. Look for clogged, mis-aimed or broken emitters or pipes. You may want to remove a sprinkler at the end of the system and flush out any dirt.
With the mild weather, you have time to fix things now without risking damage to your plants and lawn while waiting for a spare moment to make repairs.
Don't Turn Your Timers On
It may be tempting to turn on your sprinkler timers, and let them do the work for the next few weeks.
That's not a good idea. Your yard will not need a lot of water, and with rapidly-changing winter weather still ahead of us, you may end up wasting a lot of water should you forget to turn them off.
Operate the sprinklers manually. CCWD doesn't advise turning your timers back on until March, and even then, that's only one day a week for your lawn.
Starting to Plan Your Summer Garden?
The "Bringing Back the Natives" Garden tour on Sunday, May 1 will be a great way to see how local gardeners have used drought-tolerant native plants to create beautiful gardens. More than 50 gardens in Contra Costa and Alameda counties are registered.
CCWD is one of the long-time sponsors of this popular community activity. There are a limited number of booklets, so register early. It's free!
Can't wait until May? Take a look at our "Gardening in Contra Costa County" online resource. There are thousands of plants listed, along with pictures and gardening ideas.