High-Country Health Food and Cafe in Mariposa California

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Over the Garden FenceJuly 10, 2021 - By Bob Labozetta (UC Master Gardener, Mariposa) - We are once again living through a drought year in the Sierra Nevada foothills. As such, it is a good idea to revisit and remind ourselves of the techniques of waterwise landscaping that is otherwise known as drought-tolerant landscaping or xeriscaping.

There are basic principles of waterwise landscaping:

  1. Planning/Design requires making appropriate plant selection for the climate where you live. It’s best to select native plants, drought tolerant non-invasive plants, and plants that tolerate our cool wet winters and dry hot summers. We live in a Mediterranean climate, so plants that thrive in places with a similar climate are good choices.

  2. Water conservation necessitates preparing your garden soil for good drainage, using mulch profusely, hydro-zoning plants with similar water needs, and installing drip irrigation wherever possible. Mulching helps to reduce evaporation.

  3. Minimize turf areas because lawns require large amounts of water, fertilizers, money, and time. Plant only as much as you need, and plant the best variety of turfgrass for your climate. Better yet, install artificial turf to eliminate the need for water and fertilizers. If you must plant turfgrass, consider bunch grasses. Consider also using hardscapes, ground covers, mulches, and rocks to reduce grass areas and provide interest.

  4. Zoning refers to grouping plants according to the same exposure and water needs. For example, fruit trees and vegetables need the most water and care and should be in the same vicinity. Remember that low water users may still need supplemental irrigation during the summer.Limit plantings of annual flower beds. Consider containerized plants and plan for xeriscape planting zones.

  5. Efficient irrigation involves zone irrigation systems to match plant requirements. Distinct irrigation lines can be programmed to meet frequency and duration variances. Install drip lines and/or soaker hoses in permanent, automated irrigation systems that need recalibration three to four times a year in response to changing weather conditions from season to season. Water your landscapes shortly before sunrise, and avoid irrigation during windy periods. Avoid over spray from sprinklers onto patios, sidewalks, or other areas. Turn off irrigation systems during the winter, and check them regularly for maintenance needs.

  6. Proper maintenance involves deadheading, pruning, trimming, and weeding plants. Set up a regular schedule of raking and thatching turf areas and mow them to a height of 3”. Remove about an inch of grass each time you mow.

Implementing waterwise landscaping is a wise investment of time and money that will save you both over the long haul.


For assistance, contact our Helpline at (209) 966-7078 or at mgmariposa@ucdavis.edu. We are currently unable to take samples or meet with you in person but welcome pictures.

Updated: The U.C. Master Gardener Helpline is staffed; Tuesdays from 9:00 A.M. - 12:00 P.M. and Thursdays from 2:00 P.M. - 5:00 P.M. 
Clients may bring samples to the Agricultural Extension Office located at the Mariposa Fairgrounds, but the Master Gardener office is not open to the public. We will not be doing home visits this year due to UCANR restrictions.

Serving Mariposa County, including Greeley Hill, Coulterville and Lake Don Pedro
Please contact the helpline, or leave a message by phone at: (209) 966-7078
By email (send photos and questions for researched answers) to: mgmariposa@ucdavis.edu 

For further gardening information and event announcements, please visit: UCMG website: http://cemariposa.ucanr.edu/Master_Gardener
Follow us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/mariposamastergardeners 

Master Gardener Office Location:
UC Cooperative Extension Office,
5009 Fairgrounds Road
Mariposa, CA 95338 

Phone: (209) 966-2417
Email: mgmariposa@ucdavis.edu
Website: http://cemariposa.ucanr.edu/Master_Gardener

Visit the YouTube channel at UCCE Mariposa.