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Tips for tending your garden during drought

Drought Garden

Lauren Osen/KPCC

There are plenty of things each one of us can do to help conserve water during the worst drought on record in California history, including adapting the way we tend for our gardens.

Environmental journalist Emily Green, who runs the blog Chance of Rain, talks about how these simple changes can help create a drought-resistant garden:

  • Let the grass grow; leave the clippings to mulch — stopping evaporation

"It rebuilds the turf and the soil because every time you're mowing, you're drying out the grass and more of the plant dries out and the soil beneath it dries out. Whereas, you leave the grass, it breaks down and it helps build up the soil."

  • Don't use fertilizer; it can pollute runoff

"This is a big problem, particularly for sprinkler-irrigated turf where you have a runoff. It either sits in the soil, in which case it comes in contact with you and your pets. Or, the worse case scenario for the public at large is it runs off into the storm drain system into the ocean. And, because we've had so little rain this year, it's going to be highly concentrated and really wreak havoc at the beaches."

  • Water longer and deeper, but do it less frequently

"If you slow everything down, and you allow the water to penetrate more deeply and the grass to get a little higher, you have less evaporation, and more stored in the soil," Green said.


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