Tropical storm Hilary gave us a few days of anticipatory clouds and one day of solid rain, but, locally anyway, we escaped catastrophic damage. It seemed that everyone just wisely battened down the hatches and patiently rode out the storm. It felt like a throwback to spring 2020 when we all stayed inside.
Just as with the atmospheric rivers that devastated NoCal over the winter, San Diegans were again fortunate to be on the edge of the phenomena. Gentle, steady rain replenished the water throughout the soil profile, making optimal conditions for plant growth. This pattern made for a phenomenal winter, particularly for newly- planted landscapes, that went nuts!
I often reassure my clients that the first year is about survival, the second is about establishment, where the action is all underground, and it's only by the third year that things take off and you start to see the realization of the garden design. But this past season was all three in one year!
A frenzy of wildflowers, May 2023. Native landscape planted May 2022.
If you have an established landscape, my post-Hilary rx is to turn off the water until Indigenous Peoples Day (formerly known as Columbus Day, Oct. 10). As the soil dries, roots will follow the available water and grow deeper into the soil, building resiliency. If you planted your garden this Spring, you should be able to hold off watering until mid-September, but check your soil water levels after Labor Day.
If you are in the design phase and/or preparing your landscape for a Fall install, you can anticipate a great new bunch of weeds to kill before we plant. Conditions should be perfect in three weeks for the most environmentally benign weed control method that I've talked with you about. Killing the weeds before they set seed reduces the soil seed bank and will make your landscape maintenance a bit easier in the coming years.
It looks like we're looking at another El Nino this winter. If our luck holds, that portends another year of excellent conditions for establishing a new native landscape. This is a great time to plan (design) your garden for a November planting date, in hopes of more favorable weather to establish a native landscape that will be resilient to the inevitable weather extremes that we will face from our rapidly-heating global climate.