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Water Wise Wendy’s Gardening Corner

It’s a Great Time for Fall Yard Cleanup — A little prep work in fall will ensure spring success in your garden.

Dial down your outdoor watering — plants and lawns need minimal water during this time of year for several reasons.

  1. Time to hibernate! Many species go dormant, lose their leaves, die back for winter or dramatically reduce growth. Since they are taking a break, they don’t need as much water as when they’re in full growth.
  2. Cooler temps = slowed evaporation. With reduced temps and less sunshine, the ground holds moisture much longer so there’s no need to water as frequently. In fact, overwatering can make the ground soggy and will actually harm your plants. If you can push a screwdriver 6 inches into the soil — no water needed!
  3. Winter is our rainy season! We live in a Mediterranean climate which is characterized by hot dry summers and cool wet winters. In typical years, we get most of our rain during the winter, which means you should adjust your irrigation schedule accordingly.

Water Wise Wendy’s Irrigation Tune-Up Tips

  • Review appropriate settings for scheduling, date and time, and irrigation zones.
  • If your irrigation controller has a “Rain Mode,” turn it on to automatically adjust the schedule when rainfall occurs.
  • Turn the system off completely in areas/zones where plants or grasses will be going dormant for the winter. They don’t need the extra water!
  • Check for leaks. Look for signs of pooling water, drips and other irrigation issues.
  • Place a rain barrel outside to collect any winter rains to offset your irrigation needs.

Leave the Leaves!

Leaves contain beneficial organic matter and can also be important habitat for overwintering species. Instead of bagging them up, you have a couple of options for keeping nature’s goodness in your own backyard habitat:
  • Mow over the leaves. Take the bag off your mower and let it shred them into fine particles. They will work their way into the soil and improve the overall soil health — which means you’ll need less water in the dry months because healthy soil holds water better!
  • Mulch it up! Too many leaves to mow over? Rake a layer into garden beds so they can serve as nutrients to enrich the soil for your plants and create cover to prevent evaporation. Bonus points for creating a habitat for overwintering insects like luna moths, bumblebees and swallowtail butterflies!
  • Compost the rest. Take your excess leaves and start a compost pile. You’ll want an even distribution of “greens and browns.” Green matter includes items like food scraps, green yard clippings, coffee grounds, fresh leaves, or chicken manure. The browns can be dried leaves, cardboard, sawdust, paper, or wood ash.
  • Compost Hub now open! Not quite ready to start your own compost pile? We’ve got you covered. Check out the new Livermore Compost Hub — open to all! Bring your own refillable container and grab what you need:
    • Hosted by: Fertile Groundworks and the City of Livermore
    •  4743 East Avenue in Livermore, at the end of Asbury United Methodist’s Church parking lot
    •  Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and Fridays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Water Wise Lawn Care 101

A healthy lawn requires less water. A little DIY lawn care will go a long way in the warmer weather.
  • Get some air! If you have a cool season grass — it’s time to aerate! The soil in a lawn can get compacted causing roots, stems and debris to create a barrier that makes it hard for nutrients and water to penetrate. Core or plug aerators work best. They remove plugs of soil from your lawn and deposit them on top where they break down. Now your lawn can breath and drink more effectively.
  • Put those clippings to work. Keep lawns 2-3 inches during cold weather and keep the bag off your mower to allow lawn clippings to return nutrients back to the soil.
  • Banish bare spots! If you have some bare spots, fall is also a good time to do some overseeding, so the winter rains will help the seedlings establish better root systems.
  • Take it easy. Not only are lawns extra thirsty and not suited to our climate, but they require constant maintenance. Considering ditching your lawn for an easier to maintain low-water garden? Check out our lawn conversion rebate with new easier to navigate guidelines.

Celebrate the Holidays While Being Water-Wise


As family feasts and holiday traditions fill our calendars this month, Zone 7 wants to share the top 3 ways you can stay water-wise this holiday season! 

  1. Make sure you take your turkey out of the freezer in time to defrost safely over the next few days inside the fridge! Don't get caught running your turkey under water to defrost the day-of—not only will that waste water, but it might throw a wrench in your dinner plans! The USDA says a frozen turkey will need about 24 hours for every four to five pounds of turkey. 
  2. After your holiday dinner, use a scraper to clear leftovers off your plate and into the compost instead of washing them off with water. The last thing anyone wants is to spend more time washing dishes. 
  3. Ready for candied yams and green bean casseroles? Be sure to rinse those vegetables in a bowl of water instead of under a running faucet. Then, use the leftover water for your plants. 

These small changes make a big impact on our water-savings during drought conditions! Every drop of water saved this year, goes into the bank for next year.  

More water saving tips

Thank You for Joining our Lawn to Garden Party

This past September, Zone 7 partnered with StopWaste to help transform a resident’s lawn into a water-wise garden in Pleasanton!  

Participants got hands-on experience by removing a lawn using the sheet mulching method. Participants also learned about current rebates offered, Bay Friendly gardening techniques, and how to get started on their own lawn conversions.  

Didn’t get to party with us? View water wise landscaping tips and current rebates on our website! 

Water Savings in the Kitchen 

We’ve talked about ways to save water before you make a delicious holiday meal, but let’s continue the momentum and save more water during clean-up.  

  1. Fully load your dishwasher.  
  2. Compost leftovers instead of washing them down the garbage disposal. 
  3. Soak pots and pans instead of spraying with water to remove leftover food. 
Get more water saving tips
Zone 7 Water Agency, 100 North Canyons Parkway,
Livermore, CA 94551  |  925-454-5000
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Zone 7 Water Agency · 100 North Canyons Parkway · Livermore, CA 94551 · USA

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