Laguna Niguel -- In response to one of the worst droughts in state history, a coalition of local public agencies launched Orange County Garden Friendly, a program to encourage Orange County residents to install climate-appropriate and low-water-use plants in outdoor spaces and gardens. The next OC Garden Friendly event will be held on Saturday, May 3rd, at The Home Depot in Laguna Niguel, 27401 La Paz Road, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. The May 3rd event also coincides with the U.S. EPA’s “Sprinkler Spruce Up” campaign that encourages homeowners to give their irrigation systems a water-saving check-up.
The OC Garden Friendly program is a cooperative effort of the Orange County Stormwater Program, the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) and the UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) in partnership with The Home Depot and the city of Laguna Niguel.
“During this historic drought, we need to look for ways to use water efficiently. Low-water-use plants that are adapted to our climate will save water and eliminate runoff at the same time.” said Joe Berg, Water Use Efficiency Programs Manager at MWDOC.
Plants available for sale at the May 3rd event are included in an extensive list of climate appropriate plants developed by UCCE. The list is a reference tool for which plants are “garden friendly” for the Orange County climate, and it is organized by garden category, including ground cover, shrubs, flowers, and trees.
“In dry climates, such as in Southern California, as much as 60% of household water use is devoted to outdoor uses—of that, half is wasted,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA’s Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Using plants that are better suited for our climate is one way we can be smarter about how we use water outdoors while maintaining a beautiful and healthy landscape.”
Gardeners can also reduce water consumption by “sprucing up” sprinkler systems. EPA’s Sprinkler Spruce Up campaign encourages homeowners with irrigation systems to maintain healthy landscapes and save water through four simple steps—inspect, connect, direct, and select:
- Inspect your system for clogged, broken, or missing sprinkler heads and replace where necessary.
- Connect sprinkler heads tightly to prevent water from pooling in puddles and harming plants.
- Direct sprinklers away from driveways and sidewalks to water only where needed.
- Select a WaterSense labeled irrigation controller to replace your clock timer; they use local weather data to water only when needed and are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models.
As part of the event, rebate eligible WaterSense-labeled controllers are promoted to help take the guesswork out of scheduling. Additionally, The Home Depot will provide an irrigation controller installation workshop.
Low-water-use plants require different irrigation techniques and can be an essential part of a more water-efficient landscape. Rebates are available for residents who retrofit sprinklers, install a rain barrel, or remove lawn turf to create a climate-appropriate landscape. More information is available at www.mwdoc.com/rebates.
As part of a holistic approach to using water more efficiently during the drought and for future generations, the OC Garden Friendly program and collaborators are hosting the Laguna Niguel event to eliminate overwatering by making low-water-use plants and irrigation tools more accessible to residents.
More information about the Orange County Garden Friendly Initiative can be found at: www.ocgardenfriendly.org.
More information on Sprinkler Spruce Up and smart outdoor practices can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/watersense/outdoor/