Prepare for Spring Landscaping Season
By Jim Perry
While all of the old ranchos and ranches in the Baldy View region featured orchards and vineyards; cattle ranching was our region’s key industry until citrus growers harnessed the waters of the Santa Ana River and vintner Secundo Guasti realized that an underground water table could nourish huge tracts of vineyards without surface irrigation. Where bands of livestock rustlers once terrorized valley residents leaving us a legacy of cowboy and Native American legends and ghost stories; miles of blossoming citrus groves and vineyards soon defined Southern California to the world. And it was all due to our ability to conserve and sustain our water supply.
Today’s homeowners find the most environmentally-sound and cost-effective method to enhance their comfort and investment in their homes is with landscaping. Improving landscaping can save homeowners money, conserve water and energy and enhance a home’s ‘curb appeal’ – whether in preparation for a home sale or simply maintaining the home’s aesthetic and financial value. And with Spring on the horizon, the best time to landscape is now.
Because nearly half of our water supply is imported and landscaping accounts for largest percentage of non-farming water uses in our state, conservation will always be the key in protecting our homes, water supply and quality of life. Yet, for existing and new homeowners and homebuyers, there is good news all around. Today’s new home communities feature modern landscaping features, designs and technologies that use on average 50 percent less water than homes built in 1975 and 20 percent less than homes built a decade ago. For existing homes, technological innovations and new approaches to landscaping offer opportunities for owners to renovate their landscaping to conserve water, energy and money while beautifying their homes.
So, if you are considering landscaping improvements this spring, your planning should begin with checking in with your local water district. Water districts are the best resource when it comes to providing water-conserving landscaping guidance for their customers. Call your local water provider or visit www.bewaterwise.com, a website of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the family of Southern California water agencies. They will show you the best methods of modernizing your landscaping with drought tolerant plants or other water-wise features.
Homeowners can reduce their water bills by hundreds of dollars annually by making the right choices on plant selection and irrigation equipment. While choosing drought-tolerant plants over conventional green lawns will have a positive impact on your water usage and costs, updating sprinkler systems is just as important. Consult with a local nursery or home and garden center for suggestions on the best types of trees and shrubs that will thrive where you live. Because many communities encourage the planting of certain types of native species, local nurseries are generally very knowledgeable on the subject. Homeowners associations (HOAs) are usually another great resource and often provide landscape design guidelines including approved plants and trees (check with your HOA if you belong to one to determine if changes to your landscape might require preapproval or architectural review).
Planting deciduous trees – which are trees that lose their leaves during the winter – in front of windows that receive significant amounts of sunlight will block solar heat in the summer while allowing sunlight in during the winter. Depending on the species, a six- to eight -foot deciduous tree will begin shading your windows the first year and your roof within five to 10 years.
Whether your intent is to replace your turf lawn with a more region-appropriate plant palette or you are prepared for a full-scale replacement of your irrigation system, modernizing your landscaping will reap untold rewards in the form of personal enjoyment as well as your monthly budget. As with any worthwhile project, determine your goals, develop a plan and stick to the budget. Maintaining discipline in the planning stages will save time and money when it’s time to put the first shovel in the ground.
The American home is for most Americans the biggest and best investment they will make in their lifetimes and here in Southern California, upgrading your home’s landscaping is your best bet to beautify, insulate, and protect your home while saving money.
For further reading on home improvements that will beautify and enhance the value of your home, visit our website at www.BIABuild.com and have a great Spring.