If you love plants, the new restrictions give you an excellent excuse to finally get rid of a lawn that may have caused you nothing but headaches with its constant need for water, fertilizer, and herbicide. Now you can plant an orchard, a rose garden, a native plant display, or a wildlife sanctuary instead, any of which will use much less water than a lawn.
As of June 1, if you live in the city of Los Angeles, you can only run your sprinklers on Mondays and Thursdays, according to the recently passed water rationing ordinance. In line with current policy, no irrigation may be done between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Also, stations or valves with spray head sprinklers are restricted from watering for more than 10 minutes at a time and valves with rotary sprinklers are restricted to a 15 minute watering cycle.
However, you can hand water by hose as many days of the week as you like, as long as you do so before 9 in the morning or after 4 in the afternoon. Drip irrigation lines, as long as their emitters deliver 2 gallons per hour or less, are exempt from all watering restrictions.
Enormous water savings are afforded through the use of drip irrigation. Consider that a spray head from a single sprinkler may deliver two gallons of water per minute, which is 60 times more water per minute than that delivered by a single two gallons per hour drip emitter. In other words, 60 drip emitters would deliver the same amount of water per minute as one conventional sprinkler.
Where irrigation of perennials, shrubs, and trees is concerned, drip irrigation seems to make a lot of sense. You can use low volume, mini-sprinklers – they snap into polytheylene tubing just like emitters – to water ground covers. You can also find polyethylene tubing that has in-line emitters spaced at 12 or 18 inch intervals so you do not have to go to the trouble of popping emitters or mini-sprinklers into the line.
To keep a drip system working efficiently, check frequently for clogging. Emitters and mini-sprinkler heads, no less than conventional sprinkler nozzles, need replacement on a regular basis. Even in-line emitters can clog.
Keep in mind that, whether you have a garden or landscape or no plants at all, starting in June, you are expected to reduce your water consumption by approximately 15 percent. Any water used over your allotted amount will be paid for at a higher rate. For more information, call 1-800-DIALDWP (1-800-342-5397).
If you have a lawn and, with the coming water restrictions in mind, decide to replace it, a number of alternatives are available. A sunny lawn can be transformed into a rose garden easily enough. Dig holes where you want to plant your roses, extend drip lines from the valve(s) currently watering the lawn, placing emitters where the roses will be, and you’re ready to go. After you plant the roses and start watering them with a drip system, the lawn will die on its own from lack of water.
The denser you plant the roses, the more quickly the lawn will die. Before planting, you may wish to put down pathways of decomposed granite or pea gravel that will divide your prospective rose garden into distinct areas. You could plant a different type of rose in each area.
The easiest roses to grow are disease resistant types such as Iceberg (white or frosty pink), Knock Out (deep cherry red, pink, coral, or yellow) and Flower Carpet (white, red, pink, apple blossom, yellow). These roses are not noted for their fragrance but flower throughout the year and only need to be pruned once or twice a year.