In the interest of water restrictions, I do have to agree with Gary Horton a little (July 29). Why did your article not talk about the things we can do to boost water retention? I also have to ask where all the money has gone that we taxpayers have paid over the years for dams to be built, and if we can cleanse water for drinking and cooking why don’t we take that water and use it for watering our lawn and the cities landscape? (I get it, a lot of people are squeamish, but what if a test area in the city was created and the land tested before and after?) Take a look around. Take a walk along the paseos and the arroyos. Really look at the trees, specifically the tops of the trees. Are there dead spots? Look at the dead leaves and pine needles under those pine trees. Ask any fire marshal or firefighter — those are fires waiting to happen. I grew up in the South. We used the dead pine needles to start our wood-burning fireplaces or fires outdoors.
Santa Clarita is a firestorm waiting to happen. There is a lot of dead undergrowth that needs to be cut out. Trees that are half-dead, removed. Fire season is coming. It’s time for the city to start taking care of those dead plants, trees and bushes. We know trees and plants fight greenhouse emissions. We need to water them. I agree with Gary that we conserve in the house first. But I also think a lot of us, including the city, have missed the bigger picture. What can we do before or during a drought?
1. First rule of thumb is to maintain your landscape by aerating the lawn, applying Gypsum if needed to get the soils the right balance. This may take several years. A lot of landscapers are using a product called Hydretain to help lawns hold moisture. It can also be used in the bedding areas. There are other products out there. Check with your local nursery.
2. Add compost. Work in bedding areas and add as a topsoil in the spring and even winter. Compost is good for both planters and lawns. It also helps soil retain water while boosting minerals. Bring in earthworms. I understand they help also.
3. Fertilize, fertilize, fertilize. During the drought or the hot season we need specific fertilizers. Check with your nursery. I am told not to use high numbers in fertilizer — use a product with lower numbers like 8-8-8. This will not burn the grass but will feed it. Years ago I was told your lawn and plants need food like our bodies do. Fertilize every four to six weeks.
4. Last but not least, recently I was told to put the Hydretain down, a nice layer, then cover with a good layer of topsoil and water. You can put fertilizer down first. This will help those spots.
Research. Do your homework. While a lot of people talk mulch, my first question is OK, I’m going to put wood chips or shavings on top of the soil that I need water to soak into and get down to the roots of the plant or tree. That doesn’t make sense as it’s the roots that need water, not the mulch. So, I am not a fan of mulch. Also, years ago after the Malibu fires there was an article about a lady whose house had burned twice. They lost everything. She did a lot of research, and built a house and barn that could not burn, but discovered mulching is fire material. Unless really soaking wet, during a fire it offers no protection. Instead, it feeds the fire. Her landscape was updated to plants that will not burn and retain moisture with little water. They are ready for the next burn.
Hence, given our current drought we and the city need to be doing the best we can to protect our homes and community before fire season officially starts.
Last but not least, turf. I saw an article regarding the use of turf in Santa Clarita. I am not a fan of it. Go take a walk on the high school football fields, in the middle of the day or afternoon. Ever been on one? The heat it generates is awful. I feel for those kids playing any kind of sport on artificial turf. But now you want to put it around the city. Let’s talk fire again. What fumes will the turf give off? With the amount of pets walked in Santa Clarita, it’s hot but it needs to be cleaned or rinsed to get the smells out. Again, you are going to need water to do that and someone to do it.
Leaving the grass as is and the city working to make sure the soil is kept in the best condition to retain water even if we have to cut back is better than turf, which is not environmentally friendly.