October to November is the fall planting season for our area and with 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 grey water: 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.

* Select proper plants: 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 GreenerDavis.org.

As you make updates to your landscape, don’t forget to also review and update your irrigation system where necessary. 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 check your irrigation system and ensure it is optimized to best manage your new landscape. Here are some tips to optimize your irrigation:

* 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 a 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 SaveDavisWater.org for registration information.

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

Let’s talk about cardboard

If you have large cardboard boxes, please don’t place them in the trash or even in the recycling carts! Large cardboard boxes that do not easily fit into the recycling cart are collected separately for recycling if they are prepared properly:

* Remove all packing material, and make sure your boxes are completely empty.

* Flatten the cardboard boxes.

* Place the flattened boxes on the ground next to your recycling cart for pick-up. Please do not wedge them upright in between your trash, recycling or organics carts, as this makes it difficult for Recology to empty your carts.

Recology Davis will collect properly placed cardboard boxes on your collection day. Cardboard will not be collected if it’s filled with packing material – even if it’s paper. Paper packing materials should be recycled with other papers and not with cardboard.

For more information on waste reduction and recycling, visit: DavisRecycling.org

For all kinds of opportunities to conserve environmental resources, visit the City’s Environmental Resources page.

— Dawn Calciano is a conservation coordinator with the city of Davis. Reach her at DCalciano@CityofDavis.org.