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7 Ways to Greet El Nino!

The rain has begun trickling in, which means it's time to get prepared for what we hope (and is hyped) to be a heavy rainy season. Have you created a winter checklist for your garden/landscape to help you save water, prevent erosion, prevent creek pollution, help avoid flooding and care for your plants. 1. Turn Off Your Irrigation: Irrigating in the winter months is not necessary in Sonoma County to maintain a healthy landscape unless you have areas that will not be reached by the rain or by percolation. Not irrigating during the months of November - March you can reduce your water and sewer usage charges and or your electrical fees if you have a well or use pumps of any sort to drive water. In most years all you have to do is turn off your irrigation system until April. 2. Keep Your Property Clean: Debris that ends up in gutters along the curb ends up in our local creeks. Regularly inspect and keep the gutter area in front of your home free of dirt, trash and leaves that can cause flooding and pollute our local creeks, which are habitat for fish and other wildlife. 3. Protect Your Home: If you have low areas with poor drainage, a sump pump can be helpful for moving water away from your home during a storm. Ideally, only divert the water from your sump pump to a landscaped area away from your home but still on your property, where it can soak into the ground. If your landscaped area cannot accommodate all of the water from your sump pump, some of this water may need to be diverted to your street gutter. 4. Protect Your landscape: remove leaves that tend to pile up around herbaceous perennials and annuals which can lead to rot if the leaves remain wet for long periods. Also remove leaves and debris that may have piled up around the base of woody plants - this condition can also lead to rot in long wet periods. 5. Be aware of cold temperatures: Many of your tender plants will tolerate some frost but not a freeze. There are products called anti-desiccants that can add a layer of “wax” onto leaf surfaces for protection. Frost blankets may also help. Please know that the lower the temperature drops and the length of time it drops for will cause damage even if your frost sensitive plants are protected. Any plant you buy should be researched for its tolerance to the minimum average temperatures where you live. Purchasing frost blankets for or covering exposed irrigation/water pipes should also be on your checklist. 6. Mulch: Not only is an organic layer of mulch ideal for water conservation it can also protect bare areas of the garden from erosion. Experts recommend a 3” layer for the best water saving strategy 7. Be Prepared: If large storms move through the area, flooding and tree limb breakage is likely to occur. Your local community public works, gas and electric company and water provider are all preparing by testing equipment, stocking trucks, and safeguarding facilities. Please be prepared for El Nino by keeping supplies on hand, the car fueled up, and know safe routes from your home to higher ground. Listen or watch local radio/TV stations and social media for warnings, tips and other important information.


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