Yard Smart
December, 2013 - Issue #110
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Simple Outdoor Water Savings

Most Californians think that they use more water indoors than out. The truth is that in some areas, 50 percent or more of the water we use daily goes on lawns and outdoor landscaping.

There are lots of ways to save water at home, but reducing the water you use outdoors can make the biggest difference of all. Here are a few easy ways to change the way we use water outside our homes.

Water Early
Water your lawn and yard early in the morning or later in the evening, when temperatures are cooler. You'll save 25 gallons each time you water because you won't be losing this valuable resource to evaporation. Of course, you'll need to turn off the sprinklers earlier in order to capture this savings!

Double Check those Sprinklers
Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered - not the house, sidewalk or street. You'll save 12 to 15 gallons each time you water, as well as strain on the environment.

Decide to Drip
Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such as drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs and flowers. You'll save 15 gallons each time you water.

Go Deep
Water deeply, but less frequently, to create healthier, stronger landscapes while conserving water, too!

Say "Yes" to Mulch
Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds. You'll save 20 to 30 gallons each time you water 1,000 square feet.

Choose Plants that Love the SCV as much as You Do
Plant drought-resistant trees and plants and save 30 to 60 gallons each time you water 1,000 square feet.

For water-wise landscaping ideas and inspiration, request a free consultation from NV Landscape, Inc. 286-8888

Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Let There Be Lights
by Rachel Ann Custodio
There's no better pastime in the 'ol SCV than light display viewing. There is a long list of streets that have, over the years, grown their popularity with consistently over-the-top decorations. Here are some of our faves. Save yourself the stress and park a few streets down from your destination. Bring a warm beverage to sip on as you take in these magical streets and enjoy!

In Saugus, Wakefield Court brings in a huge crowd every year. In neon red lights, a sign reads: "Wakefield Winter Wonderland." This greeting welcomes you into a wonderfully lit cul-de-sac. Giant nutcrackers, candy canes and Santa Claus fill the front yards. Colorful lights drip along garages. Wakefield Court is a must-go.

Just a few minutes from Wakefield Court is Homestead Place, also known as "Homestead Holiday." Over 20 houses put forth their finest decorations. Strings of lights connect each house together, creating a communal vibe.

Angelica Place and Liana Lane in Valencia are streets to visit. Almost every house decorates with an abundance of lights and snowman cutouts.

If you're in Newhall, lucky for you! A festive family on Dalton Street puts on a light show every 15 minutes. This residency has over 35,000 lights accompanied with music. Arches of light lead up to the driveway and a blue light pond is placed on the lawn. This warmly-decorated house will melt your heart.

If you're up for a drive, take in the crisp autumn air while ice skating beneath a bed of stunning stars. Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles is the perfect place to ice skate. This outdoor skating rink is picturesque in every way. For a more theatrical scene, head over to downtown Disney to ice skate like a Disney princess. Inspired by the Disney film "Secret of the Wings," this outdoor rink features mood-setting music and cool lighting effects.

For a music and light show, downtown Oxnard and Universal Studios CityWalk are prime venues. Downtown Oxnard puts on a Winter Fantasy Music and Light Show that plays every 15 minutes from 5pm to 10pm at Plaza Park. There are over 30,000 lights that dance to holiday music. Enjoy live concerts, a dazzling light display and the illumination of a towering custom-built Christmas tree - the first of its kind in North America - at 5 Towers in CityWalk.

Feel like a kid again and attend the Festival of Lights at The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Downtown Riverside. The historic hotel turns into Santa Claus' playground on Friday, November 29 until Saturday, January 4. With 3.5 million lights, you'll be in complete awe with all the bright beauty.

Ready to add your home to the list of must-see light sights? Call Christmas Lights Installation by Darell Lee. Since 1999, Darell has been beautifying homes and businesses in the SCV and beyond. 297-7013

Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock

Plan Now for Four-season Fun
Mark Berrol, owner of MHB Landscape Construction, knows that there are few better places than Santa Clarita to call home. "We have such a nice climate with, usually, a short and mild winter. This is the kind of place where you can be outside enjoying your yard in every season." Of course, there are some improvements that can better make this plan a reality. Here are several ways to make your space a place for relaxation no matter the season.

Get your Swim On
Mark wants to destroy one myth right now: Summer is not the best time to build a pool. In fact, says the pro, winter is often the best time to build so that your new relaxation-destination is 100-percent complete in time to enjoy a warm spring day poolside. The same goes for patio covers and the like. Start building these now; it will be next summer before you know it!

Solve Drain Issues Now "Don't wait until it's raining cats and dogs to solve drain issues," says Berrol. Drains can be infiltrated with roots, dirt, silt and more. "Because drains are often 'out of sight, out of mind,' our phones ring off the hook when a heavy rain comes through. The problem is that, while we're happy to fix your drains any time, you might not notice an issue until water begins pouring into your home and destroying your carpet. In this case, prevention will save you an incredible amount of money and stress. Improvements can be as simple as flushing the drain and performing small repairs. It's definitely worth it to get drains checked out now."

Create Smart Irrigation
A sprinkler tune up is a must to ensure that water is spraying your lawn instead of the sidewalk. But there are other advantages to fixing or replacing your sprinkler system that go beyond water conservation. For example, you'll save the wet stuff - and your sanity - by installing weather-sensitive watering systems. How many times have you run outside in a rainstorm to manually turn off your sprinkler system? Get drenched no more with programmable fixes that make watering brilliantly convenient.

Go Faux
If your sprinkler system needs to be entirely replaced - or requires major repairs - it may be financially prudent to ditch the sprinkler system all together and, instead, install artificial turf, says Berrol. "Some parts of the yard are just not ideal locations for sod," says Berrol, who recounts a client who resodded numerous times before determining that artificial turf would save him time, money and frustration in the long run.

Courtesy of Shutterstock
Courtesy of Shutterstock
Save your Pets from Holiday Plant Toxicities
by Lauren Sanchez
Some plants and foods may be ingested by your pets, leading to an unplanned trip to your veterinarian. Common winter plants like poinsettias, holly and mistletoe may be toxic to pets. Poinsettias, if ingested, are only mildly toxic, with a milky sap that will irritate the mouth and stomach and sometimes cause vomiting and dizziness. Varieties of English, Japanese, and Chinese Holly contain toxic saponins; when English or Christmas Holly is ingested, it can cause severe gastrointestinal problems with symptoms including drooling, excessive head shaking and injury from the spiny leaves. Mistletoe, when ingested, will cause cats and dogs to have gastrointestinal irritation, resulting in vomiting and diarrhea. If any of the listed plants are believed to have been ingested, immediately call your veterinarian for medical advice.

Certain foods need to be avoided, too. Many cases of acute renal failure are associated with grape and raisin ingestion. Also, foods like chocolate and onions have a negative effect on dogs and cats. If eaten, onion may cause a breakdown in red blood cells, causing blood in the urine, along with weakness and a high heart rate.

When accidents occur, stay calm and call a veterinarian immediately to avoid further complications. Canyon Country Veterinary Hospital
424-9900 All Creatures Veterinary Hospital 291-1121
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