The fall is a good time to consider landscaping projects that will prepare your yard for the winter rainy season by reducing the amount of rainwater that runs off your yard and into the storm drains.

Keeping rainwater onsite and allowing it to soak into the soil helps to recharge the groundwater levels and can potentially reduce the need for outdoor watering in dry weather. It will also help prevent pollution that can occur when rainwater washes dirt, fertilizers and other materials off your yard and into the storm drain, where the water flows untreated to local wetlands and waterways.

Here are some projects to consider:

  • Redirect downspouts into landscape areas, so that rainwater filters through your landscape and soaks into the soil.
  • Incorporate vegetated or rocky swales, rain gardens and/or dry creek beds into your landscape. These allow rainwater to soak into the soil and slow the speed of water running off your property, reducing erosion and the amount of pollutants that will get carried by the rainwater.
  • Include permeable pavements (such as pavers, gravel, sand, etc.) that allow water to soak into the ground rather than pool up and run off.
  • Add rain barrels that collect and store rainwater for irrigation use later.
  • Create borders around your landscape so that soil and mulch are not washed away by rain or spread by wind.

Learn more at

Fall is the time to plant

October to November is the fall planting season for our area, and with its shorter days and cooler weather, it’s the best time of the year to plant. Fall planting is best because the soil is moist, weeds are not as prolific, and cooler temperatures put less stress on new plants. As you plan your landscape for the year, consider going beyond water-wise landscaping and work to create a sustainable landscape that is more environmentally friendly, requires less maintenance, generates less yard waste, reduces water run-off, improves wildlife habitat and fosters healthy soils.

When creating a sustainable landscape, here are some tips to consider:

  • Integrate compost: Mix your soil with compost to improve soil health and productivity.
  • Add mulch: Mulching conserves water by reducing moisture evaporation from the soil. Mulch can also reduce weeds, prevent soil compaction and keep soil temperatures moderate to protect growing plants.
  • Harvest rainwater: Reduce stormwater runoff and keep water onsite for general gardening uses.
  • Utilize graywater: Consider using water from your washing machine to supplement your irrigation needs.
  • Create pollinator and wildlife habitat: Choose plants that attract and support native pollinator and wildlife species.
  • Proper plant choice: Choose the right plant for the right place and watch them grow. For more information on plant choice, please visit the link for “Green Gardening” at

As you update your planting for the fall, don’t forget to review and update your irrigation systems as needed. Even the best irrigation systems should be checked regularly to ensure that everything is in good working order (and no uninvited guests have damaged irrigation lines looking for water in the summer). Planting season is a great time to make sure your system still works and is optimized to best manage your new landscape. Here are some tips to make sure your irrigation system works best for you:

  • Consider plant water needs and hydrozone (group plants by water usage) to irrigate your landscape most efficiently.
  • If you have not already, consider switching to drip irrigation to provide water directly to plants and reduce runoff.
  • Check the batteries in your irrigation controller. Irrigation controllers sometimes revert to factory settings after even a brief power outage. Check the batteries in your controller every six months and replace as needed to ensure your controller continues to run properly.
  • Check soil moisture. The soil may look dry on the surface but it can be wet at root level. Use a soil-moisture meter or screwdriver to go down a couple of inches into the soil and see if the soil is still moist.
  • If you have spray heads, make sure they are adjusted to avoid overspray onto walkways or driveways.

Careful water-use management is one of the best tools to use for sustainable landscaping. You can sign up for AquaHawk, the city’s online water-use portal, to track your water usage and see how much water is used for irrigation. You can even set notifications and be alerted if you have a potential water leak. Visit for registration information.

For more information on sustainable landscaping and water-use efficiency, visit and click on the link for “Green Gardening.”

— Dawn Calciano is a conservation coordinator with the city of Davis and can be reached at

Crossposted from the Davis Enterprise

Published online on September 09, 2020 | Printed in the September 09, 2020 edition on page A10