Q: I know a lot of people who have dry wells because of the drought. I know that gardening uses lots of water, so what can I do to help out? — Nicole C., Paso Robles
A: Most analysts have identified water as one of the most significant problems of the western United States. As you know, there are severe water shortages in Paso Robles and the North County, Cambria, Cayucos, Morro Bay and Nipomo. Critical water issues remain in Los Osos, the city of San Luis Obispo, and elsewhere in the county. Besides lack of rainfall, our management of home gardens can contribute to this problem.
The University of California in Davis and the EPA estimate that 25 percent to 60 percent of residential water use goes to landscape irrigation. Now is a good time to find out how al ternative landscaping can reduce water in your own garden. Changing your home landscape can reduce your water bill and maintenance; help in overall water conservation, and at the same time provide texture, color and accents to your existing garden.
There are plenty of good ideas to help you make wise decisions regarding the composition of your garden. There are many principles of constructing xeriscapes, defined as horticulture that emphasizes water conservation, some of which include grouping plants according to their water and sun needs, using zone irrigation, and finding native plants that are best suited to the local climate.
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To help you with this project, the UCCE Master Gardeners of San Luis Obispo County will be conducting a workshop on water-efficient landscapes, native plants and our water catchment system in the garden on Saturday. They will discuss how to select drought-tolerant plants for specific areas, how to in corporate California and Mediterranean native plants into your existing garden, and how to maintain a rain garden in your landscape using a water catchment system.
The workshop will be held at the Garden of the Seven Sisters, at the free Advice to Grow By workshop at 2156 Sierra Way, from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 19. Arrive early for best seating; bring a chair, hat and water.
GOT A GARDENING QUESTION?
Contact the University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardeners: at 781-5939 from 1 to 5 p.m. on Monday and Thursday; at 473-7190 from 10 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Arroyo Grande; and at 434-4105 from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday in Templeton. Visit the UCCE Master Gardeners website at http://ucanr.org/sites/mgslo or email firstname.lastname@example.org .