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Green in the Garden

Green Thumbs

Use Native and Indigenous Plants
Native and indigenous plants are already accustomed to San Joaquin County's unique climate. These plants require little water, little fertilizer and very little care.

The horticultural staff of the UC Davis Arboretum have identified 100 All Star plants. These plants are tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, are easy to grow, don’t need a lot of water, have few problems with pests or diseases, and have outstanding qualities in the garden. Many of them are California native plants and support native birds and insects. We are pleased to recommend these great plants for valley-wise gardens. Most of these All-Star plants can be successfully planted and grown throughout California.

The word xeriscaping is greek for "dry landscaping." Xeriscaping or xerogardening refers to landscaping and gardening without the use of or minimal use of irrigation. It is generally a practice promoted in regions that are subject to frequent droughts. Under these drought conditions, xeriscape plants will tend to survive and thrive, while more ornamental plants may be stunted or unable to survive.

Use Pesticides and Fertilizers Properly and in the Right Amounts
If a little is good, then more is better is definitely not the mentality to use when it comes to pesticides and fertilizers. Always follow the manufacturers instructions when it comes to application methods and amounts. Be particularly careful not to over water your lawn or landscape after applying pesticides and fertilizers. Remember, everything that goes down the storm drain eventually leads to the Delta. Poisons from pesticides have ill effects on the ecosystem of the Delta not to mention that two-thirds of all Californians get their drinking water from the Delta!

Use Less-Toxic and Non-Toxic Pesticides
Keep your kids and pets safe by using non-toxic and less-toxic pesticides in the home landscape and garden. These days, there are a lot of effective non-toxic and less-toxic pesticides for sale at your local nursery or home improvement center.

The San Joaquin Master Gardener Program is a program that is under the University of California Cooperative Extension that is designed to assist residents with landscape and gardening issues. The Master Gardener's IPM or Integrated Pest Management program features tons of information how to deal with pests, diseases and fungus effectively. You can find the Master Gardeners at many County events. You can contact the Master Gardeners at 953-6112 for more information.

The Our Water, Our World Program is a program that helps to identify non-toxic and less-toxics methods of pest eradication. Some San Joaquin home improvement stores are involved with this program. The Our Water, Our World program distributes information sheets on effective pest control and uses special shelf labels to help customer identify of non-toxic and less-toxic pesticide choices.

Use Natural Fertilizers
There are many natural fertilizers available at your local local nursery of home improvement center. These fertilizers range from steer and chicken manure to fertilizer blends made from natural materials and targeted towards different plant categories such as roses or vegetables. Natural fertilizers tend to release nutrients slowly and feed plants over a longer period of time than chemical fertilizers. Natural fertilizers may also help to amend poor soils by enriching them with organics.

Chemical fertilizers give plants a jolt of instant nutrition but there may be some downside to that. Chemical fertilizers can burn plants if not used properly, may build up salts in the soil over time and can also produce new vegetative growth quickly that the plants root system may not be able to adequately support.

Stop throwing away kitchen scraps and improve your soil by starting a compost pile. Click on the links for more information on composting.

Watch the Watering
Check your irrigation system every month or so to make sure that you are indeed watering your landscape and not the sidewalk or your neighbor's car. Take care of any irrigation issues such as broken spray heads promptly. Use a moisture meter to help you determine when and how much to water your landscape.

Water Only After Sundown
Irrigate only after sundown to avoid water loss through evaporation.

Rain Barrel
Every home should have at least one rain barrel, if not three or four. If just 100,000 people out of San Joaquin County's estimated 700,000 population were to have just one 55 gallon rain barrel, it would save 5.5 million gallons of water every year! Remember that rain barrels breed mosquitos, so contact San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control to get some free mosquito fish. Goldfish work pretty well, too and cost only a couple of bucks per dozen at you local pet shop.

Plant an Herb Garden
Many herbs, once established, grow like weeds with many even surviving through San Joaquin winters. Oregano, thyme, rosemary and tarragon are good all year round candidates while basil, marjoram and cilantro are good warm weather choices that tend to die back in the winter but usually leave behind a few seeds for the Spring. Using herbs in your cooking can help your food to taste great without adding that seasoning in a jar (that ends up being mostly salt anyway).

Plant a Victory Garden
If you have a large landscape or even if you have a small one, plant a vegetable garden. Grow your favorites and you will likely be eating the best tasting vegetables that you have ever had for the cost of a few packages of seeds and some care. Tomatoes and peppers are local favorites for both the taste and the money that you save versus buying them from the store. Many other vegetables, melons and fruits do very well in San Joaquin's climate. Have questions or need some help with a gardening issue? The San Joaquin County Master Gardeners are here to help. Call the Master Gardeners Hotline at 953-6112.

Ditch the bag and grasscycle. It's easy, keeps your lawn looking great and best of all - no more heavy bags of grass clippings to dispose of. Click on the links for details.

News and Updates

Public Works Department

1810 E. Hazelton Avenue
Stockton, CA 95205
Phone: (209) 468-3000
Fax: (209) 468-2999
E-mail Us 

Office Hours: 8am - 12pm & 1pm - 5pm