April 23, 2015
On Wednesday, April 22, 2015, the Bakersfield City Council passed an emergency ordinance placing limits on outdoor water consumption. The intent of the ordinance is to reduce household water consumption in the City of Bakersfield in anticipation of the State of California requirements to reduce urban, statewide, water consumption by more than 30% in May of 2015. The City of Bakersfield ordinance takes effect at 12:01 A.M. Wednesday, April 23, 2015. Following is a summary of the action taken:
- Residential landscape irrigation (homes, duplexes, triplexes, apartments, etc.) is limited to three (3) times per week.
- Even numbered street addresses may irrigate landscapes on Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday.
- Odd numbered street addresses may irrigate landscapes on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.
- No landscape irrigation is allowed on Mondays.
- The ordinance advises that landscape irrigation is to be conducted after 6:00 P.M. and before 9:00 A.M. to reduce evaporative loss.
- The ordinance prohibits any landscape irrigation that causes water to run off onto sidewalks, streets, or adjacent properties.
- The City of Bakersfield Ordinance does not apply to commercial, industrial, or institutional properties (i.e.; places of business, factories, hospitals, cemeteries, schools, colleges, and universities). However, these properties must take steps to cut water usage to meet any, and all, State of California water conservation targets.
It is expected that the future State of California rules, regulations, and ordinances (expected in May 2015) will order, or direct, further reductions in urban outdoor water consumption.
Did you know that some plants, especially trees, actually help conserve water? The shade from trees slows evaporation from surrounding plants and lawns. This means these plants require less water to survive. Shade from trees also helps cool the urban environment, homes and buildings. Plus, an established tree only requires between 10 and 15 gallons of water a week to survive.
Trees, shrubs and groundcovers help capture rainwater by improving the soil around their roots, allowing rainwater to penetrate the soil and recharge ground water. The root structure of plants also holds soil in place preventing erosion and runoff on slopes and hillsides. And, the evaporation from trees and other plants adds moisture to the air.
Choosing the right plants for your climate zone is important. There are many varieties that are well adapted to conditions in the Bakersfield area. Some of our favorites include:
Jerusalem sage (Phlomis fruticosa)
Mediterranean native with tall stems set and widely-spaced, hooded yellow flowers. Moisture-conserving thick, typically furry or hairy leaves are lance-shaped.
Extremely low-growing to about 6-8 inches in height. A native of the Mediterranean area, this tough, evergreen groundcover has glossy, dark green leaves with serrated margins. Spikes of pink-purple flowers adorn the plants in the spring, and cooler parts of the year.
Sun loving, bushy and branching in habit, usually growing up to 2-1/2 feet in height and requiring minimal moisture. Silvery-green leaves are blunt 1-2 inches long, smooth edged and somewhat hairy. Fragrant lavender-purple flowers.
Rockrose (Cistus species)
Mediterranean native. Commonly known as Rock Roses for the resemblance of the flowers to old-fashioned, single roses. Prefer rocky, relatively poor soil.
Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis)
Woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region. Grows in light, slightly acidic, dry to medium, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Good drought tolerance.
Hens & Chicks (Echeveria species)
Attractive succulents with amazing colors and variations. Native to the Americas,
Echeveria can tolerate extended dry periods without water, but grow best with adequate water during the growing season. Shallow rooted plants benefit from organic matter in the soil.
Red Fountain Grass (Pennisetum setaceum)
Perennial bunchgrass found in open scrubby habitats of East Africa, tropical Africa, Middle East and Southwest Asia. Drought-tolerant. Fast growing to 3 feet in height.
Sweet Bay (Laurus nobilis)
Moderately slow growing dense evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches 10-25 feet tall and almost as wide with very aromatic elliptical 3 to 5 inch long leathery dark green leaves. Greenish-yellow flowers in early summer followed by ½ inch wide dark green-to-black berries in fall. Grows in sun or shade with little or regular light irrigation.
Desert Mountain Palo Verde (Parkinsonia cercidium)
Unique natural beauty, displays of bright yellow flowers, smooth green trunk and gracefully interwoven branches. Vigorous root system. Tolerates drought.
When in drought, don’t give up on your landscape. By making a few adjustments and choosing the right plant material, you can have your landscape and save water too!
During drought situations, landscaping is one of the first areas where water-use restrictions are applied. However, this does not mean you have to sacrifice your landscape. Field studies have shown that many established trees, shrubs and ground covers survive with 20% to 40% less water. There are also a number of things you can do in your landscape to help conserve water.
- Incorporating compost into the soil at planting time helps conserve water by improving the water absorption and water holding properties of the soil.
- Applying mulch around trees, shrubs and in planter beds helps retain soil moisture prevent weeds. Wood chips can be used as mulch and should be applied to a depth of at least 2 inches.
- Allowing grass to grow taller in the summer months helps conserve water and encourages deep rooting.
- Checking irrigation systems regularly for leaks and operational problems and correcting issues immediately improves uniformity of application and reduces water waste.
- Watering of established trees, shrubs and groundcovers can typically be reduced by as much as 20%. When reducing watering, do so gradually over several weeks so plants can adjust.
- Most trees and shrubs can survive with a few deep, thorough waterings at intervals of several weeks through the spring and summer.
- Irrigating in the very early morning hours, typically between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. reduces water loss due to evaporation.
- Planting trees and shrubs in the fall when temperatures are typically cooler reduces the amount of water needed to establish new plantings.