DECEMBER 2015 – Typical line items in any annual landscaping budget include the cost of employing, equipping, and outfitting maintenance crews or hiring landscaping services, plant materials, supplies, operating expenses, and seasonal décor. Sound familiar?
Now that California has mandated unprecedented water restrictions, caused by the most severe drought on record, property owners face rapidly increasing, and often alarming, water rates and fines. In addition, El Niño looms. Many property owners face the real possibility of severe property damage caused by flooding and mudslides.
So as you start penciling in figures for next year’s landscaping budget, rethink your priorities, and consider making investments that will reduce your water usage and prevent property damage. While the initial outlay of funding may seem daunting, many generous rebates are available to help property owners implement these important initiatives.
If you haven’t already tackled these projects, here are three crucial investments you should make:
1. Repair, Upgrade or Replace Irrigation Systems
This is one of the surest ways to control water usage, reduce run-off, and prevent property damage. Check your current systems for problems (leaks, clogged or broken sprinkler heads, inefficient controllers), fix them, and upgrade controllers or other components to more efficient models.
If possible consider replacing old sprinkler systems with smart irrigation management systems, like this one from ET Water. These systems use soil moisture sensors and real-time weather reports to adjust automatically to on-site conditions. The result is increased water efficiency, reduced run-off, and long-term cost savings.
2. Remove Non-functional Turf
While (nearly) everybody loves the look of traditional manicured lawns, turf’s needy nature makes it one of the chief culprits of overwatering. Responsible property owners need to remove non-functional turf and replace it with drought-tolerant plants, artificial turf, or other ground covers.
Still not sure what should stay and what should go? Here’s a general guide of what’s defined as functional and non-functional turf:
Functional: Schools and daycare facilities, wedding and event facilities, sports fields, pet parks, and HOA common gathering/picnic areas.
Non-functional: Expansive lawns used solely for decorative purposes, non-essential areas of grass adjacent to parking lots, driveways, and other hardscapes, and grass located in narrow, small, or oddly shaped areas that are difficult to irrigate efficiently.
3. Prepare for El Niño, Control Erosion, and Stabilize Slopes
Californians are about to face the strongest El Niño ever on record. This monster weather event will likely peak in late fall or early winter and persist well into next spring. Although the predicted rain is much needed, it’s unlikely to end the drought, and in fact, could cause additional damage because of the drought. Areas that have become barren, either because of dry conditions or past wildfires, are vulnerable to flooding and mudslides during heavy rains.
With some smart planning, you can increase slope stability using several methods that reduce erosion, strengthen soil, and inhibit landslides. Some techniques involve hardscaping (installing retaining walls, terraces, erosion control grids, and shelf-like basins around shrubs and trees). Erosion can also be controlled with thoughtful selection and placement of plant materials. By planting a variety of deep-rooted, native, drought-tolerant perennials, ground covers, shrubs, and trees, interspersed with boulders and mulch, you can protect hillsides from future storms.
LaBahn’s can help you plan and implement these projects from the ground up – from applying for rebates, to construction and planting, to maintaining your landscapes long into the future. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and to find out more about how we can help you get started.