Gardening classes from the water experts

Professor of Horticulture, Steve Williams, right, leads a class entitled Waterwise Vegetable Gardening at the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

The Santa Clarita Valley has a unique microclimate.

If you have been frustrated by your gardening efforts — or by a lack thereof — and you want to learn more about gardening in the SCV, the SCV Water agency hosts free monthly classes on Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.

Instructors

Professor of Horticulture, Steve Williams leads a class entitled Waterwise Vegetable Gardening at the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Classes are taught by Tim Wheeler, John Windsor and Stephen Williams.

Wheeler has degrees in both horticulture science and park administration. He has been in the green industry for more than 25 years.

Windsor is a certified arborist and a California-certified nurseryman, and a horticultural adviser in the SCV for the last 21 years.

Williams received his horticultural training at Mt. San Antonio College and honed his skills at Descanso and Huntington Botanical Gardens where he worked for 10 years.

Williams is professor of horticulture at Mt. SAC, where he’s been teaching free, weekly home gardening classes for 10 years.

It’s not your fault

Dozens attend the class entitled Waterwise Vegetable Gardening at the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Wheeler said conditions in the SCV present many challengers for gardeners.

“You’d never know you are living in a desert when you come over the Newhall pass into the SCV,” said Wheeler, but the SCV presents a host of difficulties for the home gardener.

“It has very challenging soils. Heavy clay soils tend to be the soil type throughout the whole valley,” he said. “The SCV typically has colder winters then the rest of the L.A. Basin, (and) hot, hot summers and wind. You have all the challenges you can have in a landscape rolled into one in the SCV.”

He said many of the people taking SCV Water’s gardening classes come from other parts of the United States where gardening is easier.

“I have people tell me, ‘I used to have the most beautiful yard and I didn’t have to work hard at all, and now I come here and I’ve failed at everything,’” he said. “I tell them, ‘It’s not you — honestly, it’s not you.”

Thursday classes

Professor of Horticulture, Steve Williams leads a class entitled Waterwise Vegetable Gardening at the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Thursday classes are a recent addition and were added so the gardening program could reach a wider audience, Wheeler said.

“For many people, the Saturday morning classes doesn’t work for them,” he said.

In addition, the Thursday classes have a slightly different focus.

“They were born out of the drought. They are little shorter and focus more on sustainability,” he said.

Water-wise gardening

Wheeler said the philosophy behind the gardening classes is to teach sustainability.

“It benefits everyone to use water as efficiently as possible,” he said. “The customer benefits from a lower water bill and the water agency benefits by being able to store more water for times when they need it.”

Other benefits include “a better looking and more efficiently maintained landscape.”

Wheeler said the goal is to landscape with “less water, less pesticides, less green waste while still achieving a high aesthetic standard.”

A conservation garden was built during the construction of the Rio Vista Water (above Central park on Bouquet Canyon Road) as part of a water use education program designed by the water agency. The garden allows visitors to view plants that work well in SCV gardens and conserve water.

Gardening Tips

Attendees follow along with the powerpoint presentation given by Professor of Horticulture, Steve Williams as he leads a class entitled Waterwise Vegetable Gardening at the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency in Santa Clarita on Saturday. Dan Watson/The Signal

Wheeler’s tips for SCV gardeners include the need to mulch garden plants and to water deeply and infrequently, a much more natural way to water.

“There is a mentally to water every day for a little bit, people think that is the way to conserve water, but it’s actually just the opposite,” said Wheeler. “Plants are designed through their root system to receive water sporadically.”

All classes are held at SCV Water located at 27234 Bouquet Canyon Road, Santa Clarita 91350.

For class reservations or information: https://yourscvwater.com/gardening-classes

Upcoming free classes:

Gardening Class: Top 30 Plants for the SCV

March 7, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Not sure what plants to use in your landscape? Learn top 30 plants that look beautiful and grow well in the SCV.

Gardening Class: Planning Your Landscape Project – Design to Construction

March 9, 9 a.m. to Noon

Learn the components you need to develop a project scope, create your own landscape design and budget.

Gardening Class: Irrigating a Sustainable Landscape

April 4, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Successful irrigation systems match your landscape with the types of irrigation your grass and plants need. Learn about irrigation system design and operation basics including drip irrigation and new high efficiency spray technology.

Gardening Classes: Drip Irrigation Basics

April 6, 9 a.m. to noon

This class focuses on drip irrigation, its uses, components and how to install a drip system in your landscape, as well as other types of high-efficiency irrigation options.

Gardening Class: Caring for the Top 30 Plants for the SCV

May 16, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Learn maintenance techniques of the top 30 plants for the SCV (and others) so they’ll thrive in the SCV climate.

Gardening Class: Landscaping with Perennials

May 18, 9 a.m. to noon

Learn how to landscape using perennials. They are plants that live two or more years and are well suited for your landscape and the SCV climate.

Gardening Class: Maintaining a Sustainable Landscape

June 13 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Learn effective methods and techniques to manage and maintain your landscape in a healthy and more efficient manner, while improving the aesthetics.

Gardening Class: Shrubs and Native Plants

June 15, 9 a.m. to noon

Find inspiration and a variety of water-conserving shrubs, natives and vines that thrive in the SCV.

Gardening Class: Planning a Landscape Project and Budget

July 11, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Learn how to develop a project scope, map out your workflow, identify contractor qualifications and create a basic project budget.

Gardening Class: The Basics of Sustainable Landscaping

July 20 9 a.m.-Noon

Learn about the basic elements included in sustainable landscaping, including ways to preserve natural resources, be water-wise, and still have a landscape that meets your needs.

Gardening Class: Designing a Sustainable Landscape

Aug. 8 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Whether you have a blank slate or a landscape in need of a makeover, learn how to incorporate sustainable gardening concepts in your project.

Gardening Class: Proper Turf Care and Turf Substitutes

Aug. 10 9 a.m.-Noon

Learn about techniques to maintain your turf that will keep it thriving and may improve water efficiency. Turf substitutes and plants that work well instead of turf in your landscape.

Gardening Class: Top 30 Plants for the SCV

Sept. 19 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Not sure what plants to use in your landscape? We’ve taken the guess work out by identifying the top 30 plants that look beautiful and grow well in the SCV.

Gardening Class: Controlling Weeds, Pests and Diseases

Sept. 21 9 a.m.-Noon

Pestered by pests? Worried by weeds? Disturbed by diseases? Learn about common landscape health problems.

Gardening Class: Irrigating a Sustainable Landscape

Oct. 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Successful irrigation systems match your landscape with the types of irrigation your grass and plants need. Learn about irrigation system design and operation basics including drip irrigation and new high-efficiency spray technology.

Gardening Class: Trees for the SCV

Oct. 19 9 a.m.-Noon

Trees not only provide clean air, they add depth and dimension to the landscape, and enhance neighborhoods with colors and textures. Learn the types and proper maintenance practices of a variety of trees that do well in the SCV.

Gardening Class: Caring for the Top 30 Plants for the SCV

Nov. 14 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Learn maintenance techniques of the top 30 plants for the SCV (and others) so that they’ll thrive in the SCV climate.

Gardening Class: Managing Soils and Fertilizers in the SCV

Nov. 16 9 a.m.-Noon

The health of your plants depends on the soil they’re planted in and the fertilizer you use to help them grow. To improve your “green thumb” potential, come learn about soils found in the SCV, which one you have in your yard and the best fertilizers for your landscape.

Gardening Class: Maintaining a Sustainable Landscape

Dec, 12 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Learn effective methods and techniques to manage and maintain your landscape in a healthy and more efficient manner, while improving the aesthetics.

Gardening Class: Lawn Removal … the Basics

Dec. 14 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Come learn the step-by-step process to remove grass, and the best types of plants to replace grass. Leaving a little grass in your landscape? We’ll cover best maintenance practices that can make it more drought-tolerant.

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