Now that the drought has done a number on our lawns, what are the choices for long-term water savings?
Mandatory water restrictions put landscapes a little lower on list of priorities. Most of us enjoy a lush landscape, so it’s good to know water restrictions don't make it impossible to create a very functional and enjoyable garden space without lawn. While so many gardeners are faced with replacing dead lawns this fall, it’s probably a prudent time to consider other options.
There are endless possibilities for lawn substitutes, and making the change is easy to do.
Take a look at a few of the options we suggest for long-term water savings:
The popularity of edible gardens has grown substantially in recent years, often taking the stage in front landscapes. The average gardener waters their tomato plants a little bit every day. Did you know a tomato planted in the ground prefers water just a couple of times a week in the height of the Sacramento summer? Most fruiting plants enjoy a deep soaking occasionally.
Vegetable gardens and fruit trees with mulch or traffic-friendly groundcovers make beautiful landscapes with the benefits of some shade, a variety of edibles, and considerable water savings.
Citrus and fruit trees are notable accents to an edible garden. A not-so-well-known fact is both are quite drought tolerant once established. Whether you enjoy oranges, apples, Australian finger limes or Jujube’s, the options and combinations are endless.
Groundcovers and Sub-Shrubs
Groundcovers are some of the more obvious choices for lawn replacements. They are best
suited for areas where there is light foot-traffic. Mix with a permeable surface, such as decomposed granite, gravel for paths. Sub-shrubs are placed where there is no traffic. They make the perfect filler for large areas.
California natives are high on the list of recommendations, although there are a number of non-native options. The benefit to natives is their built-in tolerance to the soils and water conditions in our area. Local wildlife thrives amongst native habitats.
California Natives Make Drought Gardening Easy and Beautiful
- California Wild Lilac (Ceanothus) ‘Carmel Creeper’ and ‘Centennial’ are two evergreen varieties that spread and stay fairly low. Blue flowers come in spring and bees love it!
- Manzanita (Arctostaphylos) ‘Emerald Carpet’ and ‘Massachusetts’ have pinkish white blooms that develop in spring. The dark green foliage contrasts well with dark red stems.
- California Fuchsia (Zauschneria californica) comes in a few varieties that
fit the bill for sun/part-shade, summer to fall bloom, and, the hummingbirds love them.
- Ornamental Strawberry (Fragaria) is a tight, very low perennial groundcover for rock gardens and slopes.
- Dwarf Coyote Bush (Baccharis pililaris ‘Pidgeon Point’) is an evergreen sub-shrub that grows to about a foot tall, but spreads wide. Ideal for slopes!
Non-Native Groundcovers Well-Suited for the Sacramento Area
- Thyme is an aromatic groundcover with varieties that are perfect for
areas with foot traffic. Try 'Elfin' for a very tight cover, or a number varieties of Creeping Thyme between pavers.
- Sedum ‘Angelina’, ‘Dragons Blood’, and ‘Ogon’ offer color interest and require low water.
- Senecio ‘Dwarf Blue Chalks’ can add fun contrast and texture. Mature size is 1'x2'. Minimal water is required for this succulent, shrubby perennial.
Trees are a Critical Part of a Water-Wise Landscape
Plant trees for reduced temperatures and cooler soil. Once established, many trees require less frequent watering. The cooler soil temperatures will benefit everything planted in the soil below.
- ‘October Glory’ Maple
One of the most desired maples, with dark green leaves in spring, turning radiant red in late fall. A fast-grower with a mature size of 45'x30'. It provides a beautiful shade canopy for larger landscapes.
- ‘Pacific Sunset’ Maple
A maple hybrid, its smaller size and tolerance for urban conditions makes this tree perfect for patios or small yards. Mature size is 25'x25'. Initially, it requires moderate to regular water but is drought tolerant once established.
- ‘Emerald Sunshine’ Elm
This Elm variety is highly resistant to disease. Its vase shape is well-suited for a street or landscape accent tree. Mature size is 35' x 25'. Deep green leaves turn to yellow in the fall.
- Arbutus 'Marina' (Strawberry Tree)
A one-of-a-kind evergreen tree. The mahogany bark peels back to reveal a cinnamon bark in the summer. Clusters of urn-shaped flowers draw hummingbirds, followed by bright orange-red fruit. Its mature size is 25'x25' and requires very little water once established. An eye-catching tree for smaller areas.
We love giving back to our customers. If you meander our store starting August 1, you'll notice a special event for our 4-legged friends.
We celebrate man's best friend by throwing a party for dogs called the Dog Days of Summer which has quickly become one of our favorite annual events. If you have never experienced Dog Days, we invite you to grab your canine and come out August 1-7 to any Green Acres.
During this event, we offer you a discount if you shop with your dog! Beyond the discount, our goal is to help raise awareness and money for local dog rescues and non-profits. Therefore, we invite non-profits to setup booths throughout the weekend to get the word out about their cause.
NEW in 2014! This year, 3 lucky dog rescues or non-profits will win $500 donations on behalf of Green Acres. Come in and vote for your favorite non-profit all weekend.
Dog Days of Summer is a chance for you to let us pamper your dog
“ My dog LOVES going to Green Acres! So many smells!"–Sacramento Store Customer
All Week Long:
Stop by any of our locations with your pup and receive a discount of 10% off trees & shrubs and 5% off annuals, perennials, dry goods & fruit trees! Plus 5% off Grills sold exclusively at our Folsom location.
During the Weekend:
- Learn about pet safe plants & products
- Meet local animal rescues & organizations
- Pamper your pup in our doggy VIP lounge and let them escape the summer heat in one of our splash stations!
- Customers can enjoy complimentary cool refreshments
- Pick up a Green Acres bandana and doggy swag bag for your dog!
The fun continues on Thursday, August 7 for our Day of Give-Aways. Stop by any Green Acres location all day and enter to win pet-safe plant & product give-aways. The grand prize being a $200 Green Acres Gift Card!
Join us from August 1-7 for exciting happenings at all locations during Dog Days of Summer. We hope to see you there!
Keep checking our event calendar for exciting upcoming fun at Green Acres!
Tillandsia (air plants) are rising stars as house plants.
Air plants are unusual members of the Bromeliad family that do not require soil to grow. They have few roots, and instead rely on their leaves to uptake water and nutrients. They make unique looking and easy-to-grow house plants, which thrive in bright, indirect light. Native to South and Central America and parts of the Southern United States, Tillandsia are surprisingly simple to care for and very fun to arrange.
The decorative possibilities are endless! Air plants are easily slipped into the nooks and crannies of shells, driftwood, knicknacks or nearly anything you can imagine. They can also be glued into their mount, but it does make them slightly more difficult to water.
Try These Cool Display Ideas
Set Tillandsia on gnarled pieces of wood to mimic their natural habitat
Place Tillandsia in shells or containers with sand for a beachy look
Suspend Tillandsia in glass globes with fishing line for a dreamy, ethereal feel
Use found objects such as pottery and knicknacks for a fun eclectic display
Plant Care Couldn't Be Easier!
A Dash of Sunlight
Air plants do best in bright, indirect light such as near an east or north facing window. If placing your Tillandsia outdoors, be sure to situate them in shade or dappled sunlight. They do not tolerate extreme cold or frost, so be sure to bring any outdoor Tillandsia inside for the winter.
A Splash of Water
Thoroughly soak indoor plants 2-3 times a week, and outdoor plants 3-4 times a week in the warmer months. Watering can be reduced to as little as once a week in the winter, depending on the temperature and lighting. Be sure to shake off excess water before setting air plants back in their mount, avoid letting them sit in water for long periods of time.
Thin-leaved varieties will benefit from occasional misting in between waterings, especially if they are placed outdoors. Leaves curling inward is a sign of insufficient water, and leaves turning black is a sign of overwatering.
A Little Pinching
Feel free to trim away any dried-up leaves at the base of your Tillandsia if it begins to look unkempt. Keep in mind that many Tillandsia species are monocarpic, meaning they complete their life cycle after flowering and reproduce by tiny offsets surrounding the mother plant. Try to avoid severing these pups while grooming your tillandsia.
A Dose of Vitiamins
Like all plants, Tillandsia will grow more quickly when fertilized. Feed them with water-soluble orchid or bromeliad fertilizers, according to the package directions, on a regular basis during the growing season.
At Green Acres Nursery & Supply, we love man's best friend!
Most dogs enjoy meandering through the aisles to soak up the various sights, sounds, and delicious smells in our nurseries. They also appreciate getting special treatment by being offered dog treats, and extra pats from our staff.
Gardeners with dogs are frequently asking our gurus about dog safe planting ideas. There are a plethora of dog safe plants that are perfect for Sacramento gardeners. Read on to learn more!
Green Acres' Top 10 Dog Safe Plants
Light Requirements- Full Sun
Dog Friendly Container Recipe
Thriller: Coreopsis 'Little Bang' Daybreak
Fillers: Supertunia 'Priscilla', Celosia 'Kimono Mix', Alyssum 'Clear Crystal Rose'
Spiller: Aptenia variegated
-Use an organic fertilizer in your container.
-Completely mix it into the soil rather than sprinkling it on top. Pets can be attracted to the blood and bone meal in the fertilizer.
Photo of completed container. Green Acres Nursery & Supply carries all plants pictured. See stores for current inventory.
1. THRILLER: Coreopsis 'Little Bang' Daybreak
2. FILLER #1: Supertunia 'Priscilla'
A nice snapshot (below) of the Supertunia 'Priscilla' Photo credit: Proven Winners.
3. FILLER #2: Celosia 'Kimono' Mix
4. FILLER #3: Alyssum 'Clear Crystal Rose'
5. SPILLER: Aptenia variegated
If you have a dog be sure to attend our Dog Days of Summer event from August 1-August 7th. When you shop with your dog get an additional discount- up to 10% off your purchase.*
Although, all of these plants have been reported to be non-toxic to dogs by the ASPCA, all animals are different. We strongly discourage you to allow your pet to eat any plant regardless of its toxicity level. Even the most unlikely of plants can cause some discomfort your pet if ingested.
*See stores for discount details.