This week in Southern California gardens: Time to check sprinkler systems

Things to do in Southern California gardens this week include checking out the sprinkler system to be ready for the dry season ahead.

Courtesy of Gerald Burke
Containers, watered on a drip system, can grow vegetables and flowers and beautify a patio in Southern California and elsewhere. The drip watering system makes them carefree.

At this time of year, gardeners begin to notice that their spring bulbs, which were so attractive a month ago, are beginning to look a little untidy. Many Narcissus, particularly the giant trumpet daffodils, will still look fair and some late tulips may look good, but it’s apparent that some clean-up work will be needed before long.

Don’t cut off the still-green foliage on bulbs that have finished blooming. Leave the tops on to help provide sustenance for the bulbs. Don't remove them until they have finished their job and turned brown. And if your bulbs have multiplied substantially, they may profit from digging, separating, and being held over in a cool, dry place to be replanted next fall.

Winter damage

Most of Southern California suffered from a colder than usual winter, and frost and freeze damage to many plants will start to be seen this month and next. Don’t be too quick to prune off damaged growth. It may be best to wait until the early part of April to remove dead growth. Some plants may look untidy for a while, but it’s better that than pruning frosted or frozen growth too far ahead of time.

Is your sprinkler system ready for summer?

With our dry summer approaching, we need to think about how our sprinkler systems are working. Many of us, because of the bountiful rains, have been able to conserve water this past winter and have turned the systems off. But plants will soon begin to need regular watering, so it’s time to check the system out and make sure it’s doing what it is supposed to do.

Check all sprinkler heads, controllers, and time duration to make sure that the system will do its thing as hot, dry weather arrives. If you inherited a system that someone else set up, as I did when we moved to a new location, you need to make sure that your idea of adequate watering is reflected in the system.

And if you don‘t have a drip system installed for beds and borders, this might be a good time to do it. Drip systems water well and definitely conserve water.


Gerald Burke is a freelance horticultural writer. He spent 35 years in the seed business, 30 of them with Burpee, and is a member of the Garden Writers Association.

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