Why should you have a rain barrel?

Rain barrels or rain catchment systems – why should you have one and what are they anyway?

This site has a great explanation:


check it out.

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Ollas – an interesting way to water

What is an OLLA?

An OLLA is an unglazed clay pot fired at a low temperature. This allows the pot to remain porous. The OLLA is buried in the ground with neck exposed and periodically filled with water. The water seeps into the soil at a rate that provides adjacent plants with a constant water source at the roots.

The olla method is an ancient technique of low tech, low cost irrigation used in various environments around the world. Clay pot or OLLA irrigation has been the subject of university research documenting the highly efficient use of water and increased plant yields.

OLLAS can be utilized for vegetable, landscape, and container gardening. OLLAS are especially useful in arid climates but can be used any time a steady and efficient water source is needed. Once in place, the OLLAS will typically require refilling a couple times per week depending on soil and weather. Using OLLAS, leaves the soil surface dry resulting in fewer weeds and no soil compaction, a significant drawback of surface watering.

check out the website: http://drippingspringsollas.com/about-ollas/

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Growing a Greener World

Episode 119: Waterwise Gardening

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Rain Gardens

How to Build a Rain Garden
By Kathy LaLiberte

There’s a new sort of garden in town. They’re easy to install, look good year-round, require almost no maintenance and have a positive impact on the environment. No wonder rain gardens have become such a hot gardening trend!
A good site for a rain garden
This home has a perfect site for a rain garden. The low area near the road could be modified to collect water from the home’s roof and the street.

A rain garden is a special type of garden, designed to collect stormwater runoff from a roof, driveway or other impervious surfaces. Rather than rushing off into a storm sewer or a local waterway, the rainwater collects in a shallow depression in your yard. This area is planted with native grasses and wildflowers that are specially selected for their ability to gradually absorb and filter stormwater.

Rain gardens can have a significant impact on the water quality in our communities. Studies have shown that as much as 70% of the pollution in streams, rivers and lakes has been carried there by stormwater. By taking responsibility for the rainwater that falls on your own roof and driveway, you’ll be helping to protect our rivers, streams and lakes from stormwater pollution. Adding a rain garden to your yard will also provide food and shelter for wildlife, and give you a whole new garden that’s hardy, low maintenance and naturally beautiful!
Siting the Garden
A completed rain garden
The completed rain garden transforms this home’s front yard. The addition of a cut in the curb allows even more stormwater to flow into the garden.

Your rain garden should be located at least 10 feet from the house. A natural site is a low spot in your yard that often collects water after a heavy rain. Ideally this area receives full sun, but at a minimum it should receive a half day of sunlight. There should be a natural slope (at least 1% grade) leading from the water collection area (your roof or driveway) down to the rain garden. Choosing a relatively level spot for the garden will keep digging to a minimum.

Once you’ve identified the new garden’s location, remove the sod and dig a shallow depression approximately 6-inches deep. Slope the sides gradually from the outside edge to the deepest area. Use the soil that you remove to build up a slightly raised area on the lowest side of the garden. This berm will help contain the stormwater and allow it to percolate slowly through the rain garden.

If your rain garden is no more than about 6-inches deep, stormwater will usually be absorbed within a one- to seven-day period. Because mosquitoes require seven to 10 days to lay and hatch their eggs, this will help you avoid mosquito problems. If you want to create an area with standing water for fish and amphibians, you can make one part of your rain garden deeper, perhaps as much as 18 inches in the deepest spot. Depending on the type of soil you have (sand, clay, loam), you may need to line that area of the garden with plastic to help retain a small pool of water.

A typical residential rain garden is 100 to 300 square feet, but any size rain garden is fine. Most people just size the garden to suit their available space. You can calculate the ideal size for a rain garden, based on the surface area of your roof, soil type and the garden’s distance from your house. (For more detail, see the links at the end of this article.)

The downspout from your roof or sump pump outlet from your basement should be directed toward your rain garden depression. This can be accomplished by a natural slope, by digging a shallow swale, or by piping the runoff directly to the garden through a buried 4″ diameter plastic drain tile.

Time to plant! Native plants are the best choice for rain gardens. They withstand difficult growing conditions and require little care. When choosing the plants, consider height, bloom time and color. Clumps of three to seven plants of the same variety will look better than a patchwork of singles. Be sure to mix native ornamental grasses and sedges in with your perennial wildflowers to ensure the garden has a strong root mass that will resist erosion and inhibit weed growth.

New plants should be watered every other day for the first two weeks or so. Once they are well established, your garden should thrive without additional watering. Fertilizers will not be necessary, and only minimal weeding will be needed after the first summer of growth.

Most rain gardeners wait until early spring to cut back the prior year’s growth. Leaving seed heads and spent foliage in place through the winter provides visual interest as well as cover and food for many kinds of wildlife. Once spring comes, burning off the dead material is the best way to knock back weeds and stimulate new growth. If burning is not an option, mow the dead plants or cut them back with a scythe or pruning shears.

Applied Ecological Services, Inc., has been installing rain gardens for more than 20 years. Their web site has lots of good information about rain gardens, and their Taylor Creek Restoration Nursery offers a wide variety of garden plants. The University of Wisconsin-Extension has produced a detailed, 32-page how-to manual about rain gardens. It’s available online in PDF format: Rain Gardens: A How-To Manual for Homeowners.

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Great Ideas from Great Organizations

See what Long Beach has created to encourage water conserving landscaping:

This is such a great idea!

And check out this web site on Ocean Friendly Gardens:

Great ideas, achieving great things!

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More Garden Tours in Southern California

If you are into garden tours as much as I am, then you might be interested in some of the other garden tours that are available to the public besides the South Bay Water-Wise Garden Tour I am organizing right now for May 18th, 2014.

Feel free to browse the listings below, but don’t forget to come back and register for my tour too. Enjoy:
The Flower Fields, Carlsbad, March 1, 2014 – May 11, 2014
Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden tour, April 5 -6, 2014
The 22nd Annual S. Californian Spring Garden Show, April 24 – April 27, 2014
Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase, Mar Vista Saturday, April 26, 2014
Encinitis Garden Festival and Tour April 26, 2014
Marylou Heard Memorial Garden Tour May 3, 2014
Gate and Garden Walking Tour, Laguna Beach May 3, 2014
Venice Garden Tour, Venice, May 3, 2014
Gardena Willows Wetland Preserve, Gardena – check website for hours

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New Gardens added to Tour

We are constantly adding new gardens to our South Bay Water Wise Garden Tour and we are very happy to announce that our family of garden hosts is steadily growing.

To get a little preview of the gardens that will be on our tour, please visit our garden gallery page here: http://www.southbaywaterwisegardentour.com/gardens.html

If you have a great garden and would be interested in becoming a garden host an have your garden features on our tour, then please review our garden host info center here: http://www.southbaywaterwisegardentour.com/host-your-garden.html

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Join the Garden Tour on May 15, 2011

After months of planning, we are proud to announce the tour date for our 2011 South Bay Water Wise Garden Tour:

Sunday, May 15, 2011 from 10:00am to 5:00pm

To find out more about the tour, please visit our main website: www.SouthBayWaterWiseGardenTour.com

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