Sprinklers watering a lawn in Southern California. Image courtesy Metropolitan Water District

With California facing a record drought, and Gov. Jerry Brown ordering mandatory reductions in water use, how can San Diego homeowners keep their gardens green?

Restrictions already in place for San Diego limit watering to 7 minutes no more than three days a week, and it could get worse, even though San Diego has a better supply situation than many California communities.

Glendora-based Armstrong Garden Centers says Californians can keep their lawns healthy by simply using water more efficiently. The company said studies show homeowners use up to 25 percent more water than necessary.

“As a native Californian, I don’t believe that giving up and accepting that ‘brown is the new green’ is how we deal with the stewardship of our state,” said Monte Enright, president of the company. “As a responsible horticulturist, I would like you to know that it doesn’t have to be that way.”

Here are 12 tips for saving water from Armstrong and the San Diego Country Water Authority:

  • Add 2-3 inches of mulch around plants and trees
  • Repair and adjust sprinklers
  • Install a smart sprinkler controller
  • Switch to drip irrigation where possible
  • Add lots of compost to garden soil
  • Minimize water loss in pots
  • Use trigger sprayers when hand-watering
  • Use organic fertilizers
  • Water deeper, but less often
  • Change watering times with the seasons
  • Water early in the morning
  • Plant drought-resistant species

Armstrong said it is offering garden consultation services to customers to help them maximize watering efficiency.

San Diego’s water supply situation is better than for many other areas due to independent transfers of water from the Colorado River and the Carlsbad Desalination Project, which is expected to start producing water this fall.

In addition, the City of San Diego is moving forward with the Pure Water program, which would purify enough waste water to provide one-third of San Diego’s water supply by 2035. It calls for the construction of nearly $2.8 billion in water-purification plants.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.