Southern California Coastal & Inland Valleys

April, 2004
Regional Report

Plant Ground Covers

Plant or prune ground covers, such as iceplant, ivy, potentilla, and wild strawberry, to clear dead portions and stimulate new growth. Drought-tolerant choices include coyote bush, creeping coprosma, gazania, Mexican evening primrose, rosemary, and verbena.

Making New Lawns

Sow or lay sod for dichondra or grass lawns. Reseed worn patches of lawn. Cultivate the top 4 inches of soil and incorporate organic matter and slow-release fertilizer so your lawn will thrive.

Be Prepared to Water Thirsty Perennials

Perennials that require plenty of water include astilbe, canna lilies, ferns, gentian, geum, globeflowers, lilies, lobelia, loosestrife, monarda, primrose, ranunculus, sweet woodruff, valerian, and violets. They'll require less irrigation if planted in partial shade, but but they'll bloom less prolifically.

Divide Perennials

Divide and replant perennials that are crowded or that bloomed poorly last season. Those that benefit from periodic dividing include agapanthus, Japanese anemones, asters, coral bells, Michaelmas and Shasta daisies, daylilies, fountain grass, iceplant, ivy, lantana, phlox, verbena, and yarrow.

Test Soil Texture

To easily determine the texture of your soil, fill a jar two-thirds full of water, then add some of your garden soil until the jar is full. Shake the jar well, and place it on a windowsill where you can observe the results without moving it. After a few days, the layers will be apparent, and you can make your analysis. First, the heavy sand particles will settle to the bottom of the jar, then the silt will settle on top of that, then the clay. Organic matter will float. Good loam contains about 45 percent sand, 35 percent silt, and 20 percent clay.

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