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GARDENING TIPS FOR SONOMA COUNTY


June 2019 Gardening Tips

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JUNE 2019

IRRIGATION DO IT YOURSELF OR HIRE OUT: THINGS TO REMEMBER

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    This article is intended to help build your confidence when working with irrigation professionals or when installing drip irrigation yourself.

    There is no diplomatic way to introduce this topic, no way to politely say, “Just because you hire a ‘professional’ does not mean they will install your drip irrigation emitters in a way that is best for your plants or for you.” There are ‘industry standards’ to guide installers but these standards are not law. I have noticed that each installer has their own style when it comes to drip irrigation installations; unfortunately some styles do not follow industry standards and can actually create future problems. Just to be clear, I’m not saying, “Do not hire a professional.” What I am saying is, it’s ok to ask questions and to ask for examples and explanations of how they will install your emitters. Also, be home when they install (at least during the beginning so you can be assured of best practices).

    Three of the most unfortunate things that I see with drip irrigation installations are: the emitters are installed directly in the mainline instead of using 1/4" drip lines from mainlines to plants; the emitters are installed on the top of the mainline making them easy targets to step on and break off; emitters are placed too close to the stems and trunks of plants. In addition, not enough emitters to each plant.

    Here are some things to keep in mind, whether you install irrigation lines yourself or you hire someone to install a system for you:

    Pros and Cons of installing emitters directly on top of the mainline:

    Pro:

    • Costs less because fewer parts are used and less time is taken to install the project.

    Con:

    • You or critters like deer will step on the emitters and break them off (creating something that you then will need to repair).
    • When you mulch on top of the irrigation system the emitter hole is more open to getting particles inside the system.
    • With emitters directly on top of the mainline there is no way to direct the water for a larger rootzone as the plant matures in size.
    • In some cases, emitters do have a chance of blowing off the mainline.

    Pros and Cons of installing emitters using 1/4" dripline:

    Pro:

    • Ability to direct the water to correct part of rootzone when installing the plant and as it matures.
    • Hard to break the emitter if you step on it while gardening.
    • Can easily add to emitters or lengthen the emitter line without dealing with the mainline.
    • Easy to plug the end of the 1/4" line when you no longer need that emitter instead of pulling out the emitter that was directly in the mainline in order to plug it (this method usually causes a leak in the mainline that needs to be fixed).

    Con:

    • Initially costs more because more parts are used and more time to install.

    When deciding what to use to keep the emitters in place, remember that there are small metal hooks available that are much easier to push into any type of soil then the plastic type. Plus, the plastic 1/4" line holders easily break when stepped on after they have been in the soil a while. There is so much more to know but here I have kept the topic to 1/4" lines with emitters on the ends; inline emitters have another set of ‘things to know’.

    -Mary

    Visit our YouTube Channel for more tips about irrigation.

    Contact Mary to schedule a drip irrigation consultation.

    .

    June 2019
    Gardening Checklist*

    What to SHOP for . . .
    Checkbox Annuals - Lobelia erinus, Petunias, Zinnias, Salpiglossis sinuata, Salpiglossis, Sweet alyssum, Nasturtium.
    Checkbox Perennials - Lobelia cardinalis, Rudbeckia fulgida, Dianthus, Campanula portenschlagiana, Geum.
    Checkbox Low Growing Shrubs - Santolina, Teucrium chamaedrys.
    Checkbox Vines - Large Flowering Clematis, Clytostoma callistegioides (Violet Trumpet Vine), Bougainvillea (planted as annual vine in most frost areas).
    Checkbox Veggies - Beets, Beans, Summer Squash, Tomato.
    Checkbox Seeds - Sunflowers, Morning glories, Nasturtium.
     


    Tasks to do . . .
    Checkbox Only have time for one gardening task? Remove weeds before they go to seed! If you keep at it and keep ahead of the seeds you will see a tremendous reduction in the weed population in your garden. I know, I know but if your family is like mine, they will leave you alone when you’re weeding (it’s like doing the dishes).
    Checkbox Time for two tasks? Remove weeds and apply at least a three inch layer of mulch right away to cut off the sunlight to the dormant weed seeds. Remember, if you apply less than the three inches you may just be fertilizing the weed seeds and then you will think the weeds came in the mulch!
    Checkbox Pruning - Rhododendrons: Just after bloom, when the flowers of Rhododendrons have faded, carefully remove spent flowers. It may help to hold the stem in one hand and snap off the faded flower with the other hand; be careful not to snap off the new growth that is just under the old flower stem. Removing the spent flowers will encourage the plant to send energy into forming flowers for next year and not on seed production. Lilacs: Removing spent flower heads from Lilac shrubs will encourage more bloom next year. Cut off the spent flower heads just below the flower stem, leaving the plump buds (just below the flower) for next year. Erigeron: Shear to 3 inches when starting to look leggy. Watch The Gardening Tutor video: Shearing Plants to Encourage Flowers or Foliage Wisteria: Prune Wisteria’s vigorous growth back to six nodes (growth bumps along stem) from their origin. In winter prune these same points back to two nodes to encourage flowers. If you want your Wisteria to grow longer to cover an arbor leave some of the long, vigorous growth unpruned and guide it along the area you want it to grow.
    Checkbox Annuals - For months of color in the garden and before hot weather arrives, plant summer annuals such as zinnias, cosmos, morning glories (not the perennial), sunflowers and more.
    Checkbox Fertilizing - Be mindful when using fertilizers; in general, too much fertilizing encourages weak growth that is like candy for pests like aphids. Think of too much fertilizer as your ‘plants on steroids’. Exceptions to the ‘rule’ are flowering plants in containers-use half strength liquid fertilizer twice a month or full strength once a month. Roses too appreciate fertilizer throughout the season. Also remember to fertilize shrubs in containers.
    Checkbox Mulching - Have you ever mulched around your Camellias, Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Blueberries and other acid loving plants? Now is a great time to do all the mulching for your garden but use a more acid ph mulch for ‘acid loving’ plants.
       
    Free printable . . .
      Looking for a way to stay organized in your garden?
    Download this Free Printable Gardening Checklist* and you’ll be amazed how inspired you’ll feel!
    Let us know how you’re doing. You can do it!
    Remember, this printable was created as a short list of tasks with minimal information. If you would like more in-depth information,
    you can always refer back to the checklist above each month for more details.
     

    The Gardening Tutor 2019 Printable

    *Colors may vary depending upon your computer screen and printer.


*For More Detailed Gardening Tips
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