Avoid mis­takes and help your plants thrive; tips right here

Los Angeles Times - - HOME & DESIGN - By Jeanette Marantos home@la­times.com

Those weed fab­rics and bar­ri­ers that you just spent the week­end putting down? They’re great at cut­ting back on weeds in the short term.

In the long term? Not so much. Weeds will even­tu­ally work their way back into the gar­den, and then you have two messes to clean up — the weeds and the bat­tered bar­ri­ers.

That’s the kind of wis­dom you’ll get from a free new book avail­able on­line called “Cal­i­for­nia Friendly.” Writ­ten by eco­log­i­cal land man­ager Dou­glas Kent, it pro­vides prac­ti­cal, easy-to-fol­low tips for creat­ing a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia lawn and gar­den that will use less wa­ter — and thrive.

Kent said the book grew out of his work on a demon­stra­tion gar­den fea­tur­ing Cal­i­for­nia na­tive plants. Many of the plants were strug­gling or had died be­cause of im­proper main­te­nance, over- or un­der-wa­ter­ing and less-than-ideal plant­ing con­di­tions, he said. So Kent be­gan not­ing his main­te­nance sug­ges­tions and, soon enough, a book was born.

It is now avail­able to the pub­lic through a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Los An­ge­les Depart­ment of Wa­ter and Power, the Metropoli­tan Wa­ter District of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia and South­ern Cal­i­for­nia Gas.

Kent said the book is be­ing made widely avail­able be­cause too many new drought-re­sis­tant land­scapes are fail­ing, “which com­pletely un­der­mines the con­ser­va­tion move­ment. That’s why we didn’t copy­right, so if your wa­ter agency needs new con­tent, for in­stance, they can just hi­jack this. We’re try­ing to make this avail­able to every­one.”

Here are a few tips from Kent about how to beat back those weeds:

Curb weeds with at least 4 inches of “woody, coarse mulch,” prefer­ably from eu­ca­lyp­tus or other oily trees.

De­com­posed gran­ite — so pop­u­lar in the drought gar­den — is a per­fect in­cu­ba­tor for weeds. So con­sider pea gravel or rock chips in­stead.

Plan on weed­ing at four-week in­ter vals. Not ex­actly fun, but stay on top of weeds with reg­u­lar ses­sions and you will be re­warded for your ef­forts.

BeWaterWise.com

A BOOK on wa­ter-con­scious gar­den­ing is free through the Be Wa­ter Wise pro­gram.

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