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Tips for a drought-friendly landscape and utilizing the rain when it comes

DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor
DIRT THERAPY By Marianne Taylor

By Marianne Taylor

The weather has been so delightful—feels like summer—but the latest research is now saying the rain will be here in March.

With the recent rains, some may think the drought is over. But the reality is, we’re not out of the drought yet. Take a moment to assess your landscape sprinkler systems. Many watering systems go on early in the morning, so homeowners don’t have the opportunity to see if there is a broken sprinkler head or pipe. The biggest water waster is runoff due to broken sprinkler heads.

Did you know that runoff not only wastes water, but also often includes garden pesticides that flow right into the ocean causing harmful effects on humans and the environment? Don’t let pest control go down the drain!

As we wait for El Niño to arrive, here are a few tips you may want to add to your weekend to-do list in order to cultivate a drought-friendly landscape while utilizing available water.

  • Replace and repair broken irrigation spray nozzles.
  • Make seasonal adjustment to your controllers.
  • Prevent runoff by breaking up your irrigation into shorter, multiple run times.
  • Use rain barrels to capture and store runoff from rooftops.
  • Improve water absorption by adding organic matter to planters and aerating lawns to reduce compaction.
  • Choose permeable materials to replace concrete surfaces. This allows water to seep into the ground.
  • When applying pesticides, read the label and apply only as directed. If a little works, a lot is not needed.
  • Cleanup accidental pesticide or fertilizer chemical spills with cat litter, soil or sawdust. Avoid using water to clean up so these chemicals don’t run off into the ocean.
  • Compost using green and brown waste from your home and garden.
  • Save water by using a commercial car wash. Avoid chemical runoff by not washing your car at home.
  • Keep a bucket in your shower to capture the excess water. Time your showers to under three minutes: get wet, soap up and rewet.

Remember, every drop counts.

Be informed. Please join us for our free “Smart Gardening 101” series at the Reata Park and Event Center in San Juan Capistrano. Classes are held in the barn from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., with an interpretative garden walk following each class. The March 5 class is “Composting,” March 26 is all about “Terrific Tomatoes” and April 2 focuses on “Growing Edibles.” More class details can be found at For more home and garden tips, visit

Marianne Taylor, of San Juan Capistrano, is the founder and executive director of Goin Native Therapeutic Gardens, a 501(c)(3) teaching gardening and life skills as a way of empowering, engaging and connecting people. Goin Native focuses on educating local families, special-needs adults, seniors, at-risk youth and members of the military. Find out more at

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