Following an almost rainless winter, and a fire season extended from last year through what should have been the rainy season, California gardeners might be excused if they were grim and humorless.

The adage goes When life gives you nothing but lemons, make lemonade.

Gardeners, with the help of Roger’s Gardens, can turn the current drought to their advantage.

As part of its California-Friendly Garden Contest, Roger’s Gardens has created a list of ten tips for “smart, sustainable landscaping” in Southern California’s hot, dry climate:

  • Use drought-tolerant plants well-adapted to our local conditions. Keep the size of any lawn areas small! Grass is just about the thirstiest of landscaping stalwarts.
  • Plan your garden with the water-needs of each plant in mind. Group together plants with similar water requirements.
  • Water sparingly. Don’t water on a rigid schedule. Look to see that the plants need water.
  • Get better dirt. Add compost or planting mix or sand.
  • Cover up. Not only will mulch slow down water loss, it also evens out temperature swings, so your plants won’t so quickly swoon in the heat.
  • Group pots. The plants can shade each other at different times of the day. Mulch for plants in containers is just as important as that for plants in the ground.
  • Let water technology help. Look into watering systems that put the water exactly where it’s needed, when it’s needed — instead of lofting it into the dry air to evaporate.
  • Contain runoff. Keep an eye on what you’re watering. Don’t let it overrun. That water down the drain is money out of your pocketbook.
  • Try to use as little pesticide as possible.
  • Go organic, or as close as you can. In California, you can get help from your local UC Master Gardeners program.

If you start now, before the full blaze of summer, you can less the impact of the drought on your own garden.

[cehwiedel also writes at]

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