Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

This column was contributed by Shawn Novack, water conservation program manager with the Water Resources Association of San Benito County. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors. BenitoLink invites all community members to share their ideas and opinions. By registering as a BenitoLink user in the top right corner of our home page and agreeing to follow our Terms of Use, you can write counter opinions or share your insights on current issues.

Autumn is here and your garden does not need as much water in October as it does in July. Lawns require watering a maximum of three times per week in the hot summer months and one or two times per week in the spring and autumn. Perennials and shrubs require less watering than lawns.

Once rain is frequent, turn off your irrigation system. Even if we do not get rain in the fall [autumn], the days are shorter, and your landscape will not need as much water.

The Water Resources Association of San Benito County (WRASBC) has a rebate program on rain sensors. A rain sensor is a device that can be attached to your sprinkler system to automatically turn it off when it rains. This minimizes the amount of water that you use to keep your lawn green, and you will not have to remember to turn off the irrigation system when it rains. Call the WRASBC office for more details or if you need assistance in setting your irrigation controller.

They can be reached at (831) 637-4378 or via email at
In California, fall is the best time to plant. This is when the soil is still warm, but the air is cool. Cooler air reduces heat stress, and warm soil encourages rapid root growth. And with any luck, Mother Nature will help keep the soil damp all the way through next spring. Take advantage of the WRASBC’s Turf Removal Program and get $2 for each square foot of turf removed from your landscape. 1,000 square foot maximum ($2,000). Special rules apply and funding is limited for all rebate programs.

If it is still hot weather for the first week or two of October, put your planting on hold. But once the heat abates, get ready, then start planting.

Plant just about any tree, shrub, perennial, vine, or succulent that is native to our sister climates of southwestern and western South Africa, Australia, the west coast of Chile, and the Mediterranean coast. Fall planting especially favors California native plants. The WRASBC has a list of California native plants that you can obtain by contacting them at the phone number or email above.

Before you plant, be sure your garden has a solid infrastructure: Grade the property so water flows away from the house and into planting beds or bioswales, so water remains on site.

If your garden is heavy clay soil, create large planting mounds of well-draining soil to plant into. A mix of 30% organic matter to 70% inorganic soil is a good starting point for all California natives and other Mediterranean climate plants.