As you can tell, gardens abound here and they are a major contributor to the beauty of our neighborhoods. As with any climate region, the selection of garden plants needs to take into account local conditions. Here, this means the prevalence of drought and the coastal influences.
The types of plants that thrive in our conditions are native, succulent, Mediterranean, and New Zealand varieties. Lush and pretty gardens can be achieved using these plants. Lawns require too much water, but there are many options that produce a more varied and interesting alternative. Another factor influencing plant viability here is the steady decrease in coastal fog. According to the USGS Pacific Coastal Fog Project, summertime fog hours have declined by 33% over the last century. Especially in recent years, our typical summer morning fogs have all but disappeared, with the rise in sea surface temperatures being a major contributing factor. The loss of fog moisture coupled with the drought has stressed both trees and garden plants.
The information below should help in planning a sustainable garden in these conditions.
OCEAN FRIENDLY AND LOW WATER USE GARDENING
Ocean friendly and low water use gardening is recommended in our area. These are achieved through:
Conservation of water, energy, and wildlife habitat through properly spaced native plants, low flow irrigation, and "smart" timers are all appropriate for our area. Conservation also includes refraining from using herbicides and synthetic fertilizers.
If you or your gardener hand water, know that local regulations require that all water hoses have a shut off valve or nozzle. You can also be cited if someone reports water coming from your property into the street on days when there is no rain.
Many of us have installed rain gauges which shut off garden irrigation when it rains.
Permeability of soil. Asphalt, concrete and other non-permeable surfaces not only prevent water from reaching tree and other plant roots, these materials can cause excess water runoff instead of recharging ground water. The runoff after our heavy winter storms sends fertilizer and other chemicals into the ocean and rivers which both pollutes and acidifies the water. Even if you are not landscaping from scratch, replacing such impermeable surfaces such as asphalt driveways with natural materials helps drain the water into the soil and any from the storm water drains that flow to the ocean. If total removal is not feasible, impermeable surfaces can be opened up by creating slots or spaces between impermeable materials.
Retention of rainwater prevents or at least cleanses run-off, reduces the use of drinking water for irrigation, and recharges ground water. Flooding downstream is reduced. Barrels, cisterns, and other capture devices can store water for use during dry months and reduce your water bill. Connecting downspouts to systems that allow roof rainwater to drain into the soil is also recommended.
One way to tell if rainwater is staying on your property and not running off into the storm drains is to walk the perimeter of your property during a rainstorm and see where the water is flowing. If it is running down the street, the Ocean Friendly Gardens website provides many ways that this runoff can be prevented.
For more about this program and about seminars on responsible gardening, see Ocean Friendly Gardens
STORM WATER POLLUTION
Special attention must be paid to this issue since State, coastal, and local agencies have all mandated the institution of storm water management programs to reduce runoff pollution. Compliance with these standards requires the efforts of not only public works and planning commissions, but all builders, landscapers, gardeners, and local residents. The standards can be found on the website of the Monterey Regional Storm Water Management Program at Monterey Regional Storm Water Management Program
Check out their Resource Library for many helpful brochures that specify such things as drainage requirements, reduction of hardscape, construction practices, irrigation installations, responsible use of garden chemicals, etc.
Monterey Regional Storm Water Management Program resource page
Planting of native bushes, grasses, and other drought tolerant plants is not only commensurate with the neighborhood character but also conserves water in this typically dry (and often drought stricken) area. These two factors also mean that the installation of lawns is actively discouraged, especially by the water company. CalAm has rebate programs to incentivize the removal of lawns and other water thirsty vegetation. For more on this, see Monterey Water Information
Many residents use gravel, small stones, rocks, wood chips, pine needles and leaf litter, and other natural materials as ground cover. A reliable resource for landscaping in this area is the Sunset Western Garden Book. You can also consult the CalAm website: Cal Am Water landscaping resources
Composting is a naturally good way to mulch soil and fertilize plants. Many people on the Point make their own compost and will share it. Excellent compost can also be purchased at the Monterey Regional Waste Management District, 14201 Del Monte Blvd., Marina, CA.
See Monterey County Regional Waste Management District for more green gardening products available there.
Your neighbors would appreciate if your gardeners used electric devices and/or refrain from using blowers early in the morning and preferably not on the weekends.
Our area is lucky to have some local experts on the gardening practices appropriate to this region and climate. Contact one of the website authors on the homepage for recommendations.
The Sunset Western Garden Book
Sunset.com/plantfinder (an excellent resource for drought tolerant and native plants)
SaveOurH2O.org (downloadable guides, water saving tips and calculators etc from the California Department of Water Resources)
Best Gardening Practices for our coastal region at http://www.montereysea.org/docs/brochures/Garden.pdf
Last Updated 6/7/16