Tanbark wood mulch separated by a dry creek bed, cement path, & brick retaining wall in a low-water San Jose yard.
May Day is a celebration of spring, but “April showers” were few and far between and it’s already starting to feel like summer! With another record-breaking hot year and the Bay Area in severe to extreme drought conditions homeowners concerned about water use and fire prevention are turning to gardening and landscaping for the solution. But a word of warning! Since updating my surprisingly popular post on mulch vs tanbark and the risk of termite infestation, I came across another reason to be cautious when applying it to your perimeter: fire.
Organic Mulches and Fire Hazard
Mulch can work wonders in a garden – it helps soil retain moisture, protects roots, reduces weeds, insulates the ground, can add nutrients and enrich the earth, adds visual appeal, and it’s affordable. It’s on every guide for landscaping water conservation (including Valley Water’s recommendations and San Jose Water’s tips)! Do a search and you’ll find it comes in a broad variety of materials. These can be divided into two groups: organic and inorganic. And organic matter can burn.
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension has published their (easy to read) findings from a study comparing the combustibility of various organic landscape mulches. I recommend reading the booklet, but here are some of the key points I found most interesting: (more…)
The drought is ongoing, and the state and the Santa Clara Valley Water District are both pressing all of us for greater conservation. Silicon Valley residents will be tempted by local water agencies (and PG & E) offering some pretty tempting rebates, some of which have been recently and temporarily increased, for improvements made to your home and yard which lessen the amount of wasted water. For instance, changing toilets and faucets to “low flow” models will net consumers a little cash back. But it’s much more than that. How about getting your washing machine’s gray water to a second use in the yard?
Some of these updates may not be optional in the future, so consider getting them while the rebates are still available.
Please click on the link below to view the available programs:
San Jose Water Company’s rebate page: https://www.sjwater.com/for_your_information/save_water_money/rebates_incentives
Also, view the SCVWD “Fact Sheet” for more info on what’s happening with our water. (This is a pdf on the Town of Los Gatos website).
The State of California is in the 3rd year of a serious drought. There are areas in CA where there is no water going to homes at all unless it’s being trucked in (at a very high cost). We are all being asked to conserve as much as possible, with 20% being targeted not just in Silicon Valley but in all areas of California. How are your conservation efforts coming? Do you know how to check your water usage as compared to a year ago?
If you have San Jose Water, you won’t need to dig into your 2013 water bills to see how you’re progressing with water savings. The San Jose Water statement comes with a great breakdown so you can see if you’re cutting back as much as you think. Here’s an example:
What’s nice is that the gallons per day is shown, so that even if the number of days varies, you can get a pretty solid sense of use.
In this case, year over year, the family is saving an average of about 137 gallons per day, which is about a 25% savings from the same period a year ago. A lot of it’s coming from more careful use of sprinklers in the yard. Not bad, but they are trying to improve it more.
What about you? How much have you been able to cut back as compared to last year? We can all pitch in!