Environmental Resources


Seasonal Irrigation and Landscaping

seasonal landscaping
Winter (Dec-Feb)

Let Mother Nature do the watering for you! California’s Mediterranean climate means that most of the rain every year falls between December and March. Turn your irrigation controller off and let the rain do its thing. Only water manually if necessary or turn your controller back on if it hasn’t rained for 1-2 weeks – depending on the soil moisture level. The winter month is a great time to apply mulch, as it will help protect roots from temperature fluctuations and keep them snug during the cold months!

In February, review your irrigation schedule and help to make repairs to the system in preparation for Spring.

Spring (March-May)

First, inspect your irrigation system to make sure nothing has broken over the winter, if you haven’t done so already. Early Spring is a great time to plant new plants. To help keep you garden healthy choose the right water saving plants and California native plants that are drought resistant for your yard! Planting in early Spring will give your plants time to established themselves before the heat of summer is upon us. Around March or April, you should turn your irrigation controller back on if it hasn’t rained in the past week. Make sure to turn it off it the rain comes back, this will save you water and keep your garden healthy by not overwatering. During Spring, it is best to only water at most two days per week.

Summer (June-mid Aug)

The Summer days are long and can be very hot! In California, July 2018 was the hottest month ever recorded. Scientists predict that climate change will cause continual temperature rise. During Summer, your plants will need the most amount of water, it is best to water plants during the early morning between 2am – 6am to prevent evaporation. Your lawn and other plants will benefit most from a deeper infrequent watering schedule than they would if they were watered every day. During Summer, it is best to water plants 3 to 4 days per week and more frequently if there is a heat wave. If the temperatures rise, add one day to your watering schedule. Make sure you adjust it back when the temperature returns to average. Remember adding time to address a brown spot not only waste water, but probably won’t fix the dry area. Brown spots are usually caused by a problem with the irrigation system. Run the sprinklers to inspect the area for clogged sprinklers, blocked spray or misdirected heads. It is possible that there is a design flaw in the coverage and that hand watering the affected area is the best way to remedy the situation.

Fall (mid Aug-Oct)

Mid-August and September might feel hot to us humans, because the days are shorter and the sun is lower in the sky, plant require less water than they do in June and July. This is more vital to the plant’s water needs then the ambient temperature. By the 3rd week of August, it is time to adjust your sprinklers and start gearing up for Fall! Plants only require 50 percent of their peak need in September and only 25 percent of their peak need by November. It’s best to slowly reduce the amount of watering days during the Fall months the sunlight decreases. Fall is also a good time to plant new plants in your yard. The mild weather will give them the nurturing they need to become established before the winter temperatures drop. Find the water saving plants and California native plants that will thrive best in your garden and yard.

* Don’t forget to adjust your irrigation controller clock for the end of Daylight Savings Time!

Water Saving Checklist

  • Only schedule irrigation or manually water between the hours of 2am – 6am. Watering between these hours will minimize evaporation and allows your plants to store up the water they need to take on the heat of the day.
  • If your property is sloped or you have clay soil (this is most of Antioch) break your irrigation time into 3 cycles. If you are watering 15 minutes, water 5 minute cycles with 30 minutes to an hour in between each start time. This will give more time for the water to soak into the soil, minimizing evaporation and runoff.
  • Mulch your landscaped areas. Make sure you have a 2-4 inch layer of organic mulch on top of the soil. Mulching not only makes a garden look better, it also decreases evaporation, erosion, nourishes the soil, and prevents weeds! For discounts on mulch, click HERE.
  • Save water by trading your lawn in for a garden. Lawns require 62 gallons of water in each 10×10 portion each week, which makes it the largest consumer of landscaping water. The Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) will pay you $1 per square foot with a maximum of $1000 for residential and up to $20,000 for commercial to remove your front lawn and replace it with water-wise landscaping. Pre-inspection is required and needs to be approved before replacement can take place.
  • Select plants with low water needs. You can search for plants that require less water based on soil type, plant/flower color, sun needs, and more HERE.
  • Plant with Natives! Planting with local natives will not only give you plants that need less water but that are also better suited for the local climate. They often require less care and maintenance then introduced plants. For more information on Natives, visit Bringing Back the Natives orCalifornia Native Plant Society.