By Melanie Schumacher
Many people think of spring as the prime planting period, but here are some great reasons – well known to many home gardeners – that fall is really the perfect time to plant:
- Planting perennials and wildflowers in the fall gives them a jump start on spring growth
- There’s less evaporation (which saves water), and less stress on new plants from the sun
- Trees, shrubs and other plants will have time to establish healthy root systems before the heat and stress of late spring/summer
- You’ll be providing autumn food supplies for birds, bees, and butterflies
- Your beautiful bulbs will give you a superior spring bloom when they are planted in fall and get a chance to “winter-over” in the ground
- Fall/winter rains will help to encourage healthy growth in new plantings
- Cooler weather makes for a more enjoyable outdoor gardening experience
These fall planting advantages are particularly true for native and low water use plants. When planted in the fall, these plants have time for significant root growth through fall and winter, and will be more established by the time spring and summer roll around. Then, these plants won’t need as much or as frequent watering during the hot summer months, helping to avoid various root rots that can result from heavy or over-watering.
It’s not true that the options are limited for fall planting. Colorful trees, shrubs, ground covers, herbs, bulbs, native and drought-resistant plants, and mild-climate bulbs such as freesias, sparaxis, ranunculus, and watsonias, just to name a few. And don’t forget your vegetable garden – lettuce, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, among many others.
There are many sources of information on planning and planting your fall garden or new water-saving landscape. Here are some great online resources to get started:
- Water Conservation Coalition of Santa Cruz County — www.watersavingtips.org (click on Resources and Yard and Garden Resources), which offers landscape design and plant selection information, plus all kinds of indoor and outdoor water saving tips.
- Water-Smart Gardening in Santa Cruz County — www.santacruz.watersavingplants.com, which is a great local resource for plant lists, garden pictures, information links, watering guide, and more.
Find a Green Gardener who is trained in sustainable landscaping at www.green-gardener.org
Fall is also the right time to replace your high-water-use lawn with a wonderful new landscape that will save you water, time, and money. When you replace your turf with low-water use grasses, low-water use plants, and/or synthetic turf, you can get a Soquel Creek Water District rebate of up to $1 per square foot of turf replaced (and potentially up to $2 per square foot when you add-in a State sponsored rebate from SaveOurWater.com). A typical turf replacement project costs about $4 per square foot for materials and labor so the District’s turf replacement rebate covers about one-quarter of your project costs.
To qualify for the rebate, you need to schedule a pre-inspection with our Water Conservation Specialist. Schedule before December 31st and get a packet of California poppy seeds. 831-475-8500 ext. 146.
With that great new low-water landscape, you’ll not only save money by using less water, you’ll reduce your maintenance efforts and costs.
The maximum turf replacement rebates from the District are $1,000 per fiscal year (July 1-June 30) for single-family residential customers and $10,000 per fiscal year for commercial and multi-family residential customers!
Get all the details at soquelcreekwater.org/rebates (scroll down and click on Turf Replacement). And while you’re on that Rebates web page, check out all the other rebates you can access when you take action to reduce your residential or commercial water use: from water efficient clothes washers to drip system retrofits, pool covers to shower head replacement, rain sensors to water-efficient toilets — and more.
Happy fall planting, from the Soquel Creek Water District!
As always, if you have any questions about this month’s topic or anything else related to Soquel Creek Water District, feel free to contact Melanie Mow Schumacher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 831-475-8501 x153 and visit www.soquelcreekwater.org.