Unique concerns with some groups of plants:

 

TURF REPLACEMENT INCENTIVES

As I've explained below, I like lawns. But, the San Diego County Water Authority has a program available which reimburses you for at least a portion of the plants, materials, and design costs that you purchase for the re-landscaping of your landscape using lower water use plants which will cover at least 50% of the previous turf area within two years of installation.  The reimbursement is $1.50 per square foot of turf space that is changed over to the new non-turf lower water use landscape plan(with a maximum reimbursement allowance of 2,000 square feet which would be $3,000), with water reductions likely to be one quarter to one half of previous usage, or in other words a probable 3/4 to 1/2 reduction in water use compared to what you used immediately prior to the re-landscaping.  

Details for being accepted into the program are given here:  http://www.sdcwa.org/turf-replacement-incentives-now-available

 

LAWNS

I like lawns.  They're living carpets to walk on.  If you want a lawn, but don't want to water it much, and don't mind if it's light green to somewhat straw-colored or mostly straw-colored, especially during summer to fall (due to minimal water, and, in winter if fully frosted), grow Bermuda Grass if the space you want it in gets at least a half day sun year-round.  It will grow fairly slowly given minimal water but can make a decent percentage of cover if not entire.  But, be sure you want it, because when it gets established it's difficult to get rid of.

 

PALMS

When palms voluntarily sprout from seed in the 'wild' outdoors, whether in your yard or elsewhere, - with adequate soil texture and moisture -, the way they develop in the very early period after germination is that the base of the leaf sheaths are typically about 2" below the soil surface, sometimes more, sometimes a little less, with the roots originating from the base of the leaf sheaths.   That depth makes for their best stability and growth.   However, when planting palms from containers, have the soil be about 1 inch higher than the root-trunk-base juncture, - in other words, have the root-trunk-base juncture be about 1" below the soil surface.  If the soil level in the container/pot is already at that level, or the juncture is even deeper, and the palm is doing well, then plant with the container/pot soil level being level with the surrounding site soil level, if the root mass is firm and unlikely for the rootball/rootmass to compress further, and as well that the bottom of the hole in which it's planted in the ground is also firm and won't settle further any significant amount.

Of course planting too deep can also occur, so don't plant deeper than the recommendations above.  Additionally, the general standard recommendation is to make sure the trunk-base of the palm is securely placed in the soil so that it feels adequately secure and won't be blown over by wind, and, that all the roots initiating from beneath the palm trunk base will remain covered with soil.  If palm roots originating from the underside of the palm base are exposed such that you can essentially see beneath the base of the trunk, or even partly, it makes for the palm to potentially have less stability and vigor, and being more prone to blowing over in high winds, which has especially occurred with Queen Palms that were planted higher than appropriate.  

One exception:  In slower draining soils, high clay content, adobe-ish soils, when planting from containers, it is typically best to have the soil level only be slightly above the root-trunk juncture, rather than an inch above as stated above.

Also, unlike with many container-grown bushes, vines, and especially trees, it's not necessary or recommended to cut and spread out palm roots when planting from containers, - except if for your own convenience if they're hindering your removal and planting efforts.   Even if the palm roots are circling it's fine to leave them that way, because they will all be superseded by new roots growing from the trunk root base core(root initiation zone).  Palm roots don't have the expanding diameter and potentially constrictive persistence that roots of other types of trees have or can have, such as with girdling of the trunk or roots.   The thickness of palm roots doesn't get much more than about human finger diameter, if even that much, depending on the type of palm, and they basically remain the same diameter as when they emerged from the root initiation zone for their entire life.

You can cross reference with the following University of Florida article on transplanting palms, which also has illustrative pictures of problem concerns:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep001

 

Southern California Warm Season Drought Adapted Native Plants and other plants similarly adapted from other areas of the world

In summary:  There will be different watering practices, - based on different needs and tolerances of the given plants within this diverse genre in the title above -,  with different soils, different temperatures, different plants, and different exposures, in order for these plants to perform best, depending on your desires for their rates of growth, health, and appearance.  Additionally, with potted plants that are then planted into the ground(with some exceptions to the following occasionally being the case, on a case by case basis), typically the rootball will be roughed up somewhat in the process of unfurling the roots to more readily/quickly grow outward, and reducing the upper portion of soil of the rootball to reveal some uppermost roots arising from the trunk-root flare/juncture, as appropriate/if appropriate for the case, if roots aren't showing 'as is' at the top surface of the rootball at time of planting.  Also, make sure they're planted such that the trunk-root flare/juncture is a little higher (but not too high, the rootball should be firmly seated into the ground/planting-hole and not prone to excessively easy drying or unstable stature due to being 'too high') than the surrounding soil, with the rootball planted on firmed soil at the bottom of the hole which the rootball sits on.  The surface soil is typically best contoured to make a smooth transition to the rootball-trunk-root-flare or with slight berming up of soil to meet the upper edge/curve/slope of the rootball if it works out that way.   And usually it's beneficial to add mulch,whether plant material mulch or gravel mulch, around the plant entirely, lightly to the trunk(not normally a problem, normally only a benefit), covering the rootball, and to the drip line or further, with the following being typical guides, referring to gallon size of pot from which the plant came from:  1gallon: half inch, 5gallon: one inch, 15gallon: 1.5", 24"box: 2".  Also, again, and this goes for most potted plants, rough up the outer surfaces of the rootball a fair amount in order to laterally extend the peripheral roots somewhat, - this substantially increases the rate of root extension/growth into the surrounding soil, and therefore the rate of getting a secure hold and establishment into the soil.

Also, drought adapted plants will typically need some watering after planting.   And, variable per plant type, appropriate frequency reduction will be necessary, otherwise if these sorts of plants get continual 'frequent' watering many of them run the high risk of root rot, many will die, since they've evolved being accustomed to periods of very dry soil.  Also, too much water at a given watering time, can also lead to rot and death with some of these drought adapted plants, such as some native California plants, for example Xylococcus and Dendromecon, especially if done during very warm to hot weather during spring through autumn.   In which case beyond the initial soaking deep watering, only light waterings, at necessary frequency, somewhere from three days to one week between waterings depending on the conditions, should occur thereafter through autumn, with typically between 1/3 to 1/2 gallon of water per day of watering, with multiple applications of smaller amounts adding up to the total amount(1/3 to 1/2 gal, depending on the situation), spaced over several minutes to allow for some upper rootball soaking.   The idea is that the majority of the underground rootball won't be soaked.  However, some drought adapted species have a fair amount of tolerance to typical 'frequent' irrigation.   Also, many species will look fine in some locations without any additional irrigation beyond the first year or two, and some other species will benefit from occasional irrigation during the dry season.  A rotor or spray irrigation system that is let to run for a length of time that would be about the equivalent of a 1/4" of rainfall, about every one to two weeks depending on location from June through October, (you can put out same-size catchment containers to measure the 'water fall') can be done to hydrate the plants such that they are able to absorb the water through their leaves and stems, which keeps them greener/fresher, and as an added benefit, substantially more resistant to burning in fire.  The link included here, by Greg Rubin(California's Own Native Landscape Design), explains this concept in more detail:        www.cnps.org/cnps/conservation/pdf/fire/frem38.2_38.3_rubin.pdf

 

A common scenario is this, with clay-ish soils:   When planting plants of this sort of adaptation during the warm season in clay-ish soils, especially if given significant mulching, such as, say, a two-inch layer, whether of plant materials or a rock/dg - decomposed granite layer, - though with dg the top level of the plants rootball soil would be level with the dg level or faintly higher, and with some consideration for the the rootball heights mentioned in the first paragraph in most cases - ,  it's typically best to give them only one substantial ground soaking when they are planted which might go down to 24" deep.  And any further waterings should generally be not penetrate more than half the depth of the original rootball, making sure water gets to the rootball, with the frequency being only as necessary for the site and the plant's unique tolerances and requirements.  However, some species of this adaptation can certainly take deeper waterings at intervals suitable for healthy faster growth.   Typically, be careful that the plants don't wilt too much because of getting too dry in their early period after planting, though just a little wilting is ok, but you don't have to let them wilt either.  Warm weather/season watering tends to be when these sorts of plants are more sensitive to 'overwatering' by human applied irrigation.  Check on the requirements of each plant type, get to know their needs and tolerances, contact me if you have any questions, because all the answers are not necessarily easy to come by.  If mulching is not done, more watering frequency will be necessary.  It's generally best to give at least a light mulch cover, just enough to cover the soil.  No mulching is recommended wherever it is preferable for quicker drying to occur.

Planting from containers, or other sorts of transplanting, typically adds a special need of supplemental watering for a few months or more after planting, though in some cases only one or two waterings may be beneficial or necessary if the plants are also mulched whether with plant materials or a rock/DG layer, or in some cases even when not mulched.  

Some plants of this adaptation, after some establishment, will healthfully go into a somewhat dead looking dry dormant state through the warm dry season.  And then they perk back up with new growth when the rains return in the cool half of the year.  However with most, you don't have to let them go dry-dormant. You can have them maintain more green during that time, simply as a matter of moderate-lite occasional spray or rotor watering, or showering them with hose watering, every week or two, though could be either more frequent or less frequent,... again, depending on soil type, plant type, and weather.  And to state again, by watering these sorts of plants by broadcast spray or rotor watering for 5 minutes every one to two weeks during the dry season, that substantially increases their fire resistance while still being sustainably healthy for the plants.

Another watering method to prolong growing and/or blooming performance with many plants, including regional San Diego natives, is for the plants to receive what can be called 'peripheral watering' in the sense of soil soaking, meaning that the location of the water application and subsequent lateral dispersion occurs well away from the trunk of the plant but within reach of the roots.  The age of the plant is a factor for that determination.  Younger plants given this consideration could be given water that reaches to about a foot from the trunk.   Older-bigger plants would be given gradually further reaches depending on the size of the plant, but a general guideline would be reaching to near the outer edge of the 'dripline', from the outer area.  If the plants in consideration are given plenty of water around their trunk area they can be much more prone to root rot, which can kill some or all of the roots and hence potentially the entire plant.

The type of irrigation practice used in order to minimize the amount of water used, yet still have good to excellent plant performance, depends on the arrangement of the plantscape and practicality.  It could be as a rudimentary as hand watering from a container into the planted 'basins', soaking the 'basins' by moving a hose around to each of the plants individually, or, a combination of using a soaker hose for the initial soaking of the general area and watering by hand afterwards, or using moveable sprinklers.  Or, setting up a drip irrigation line, but instead of using drip emitters, you could use adjustable flow micro-streams or micro-sprays, which can have spray-diameters up to about 12' with the micro-sprays, and have a healthier water distribution for the native plants than true drip.  With those you can turn them off when they've done their job in adequately establishing a given plant, whereas even on the same line system some of those emitters could be kept on for plants which can benefit from more watering to boost their rate of growth.  That occurs where you have plants with different rates of growth for the same amount of water.  Some being faster, some being slower,.. the faster ones being taken off the watering sooner such as within a few months, and the slower ones potentially getting water from the system over several years or more.

And, with careful management, even true drip can work well if, say, ideally three emitters or more are used per plant to get a good and even distribution around each plant(though just one emitter can work also), with adequate flow rate to get a fairly quick lateral water distribution, and watering no more than necessary for adequate hydration, and then typically cease any further soil-soaking-watering as soon as the plants have made some establishment, and just let the plants survive on ambient rainfall alone, or if you prefer, give them an occasional 'hosedown wash' or moveable sprinkler watering like described above, or move the drip emitters substantially further out, well away from the plant's trunk-root crown area, though with some species the drip emitters can stay in place, depending on the size of the planted space.  

Btw, with suitably tolerant species, 1/4" dripline with the internal factory-installed emitters at 6" or 12" spacing with 0.5gph to 1.0gph emission rates(depending on water pressure) used below mulch can work too.  They could be made into rings of, say, 10 or more emitters, which encircle the plants, especially plants that either are planted near established trees or large shrubs, to counter water consumption competition with focused application to minimize water use, though yes, more plastic materials are being used).   And also, 1/2" dripline with emitters at 12" intervals, used below mulch, could also be used, with emission rates per emitter being 0.60gph to 0.90gph depending on model used, as appropriate for the site conditions.

The ideal irrigation practice for large continuous planted areas with a stationary irrigation system is to use multi-stream rotators, rotors, or for 'in between size' areas, sprays.  Multi-stream rotors are potentially more efficient than sprays because they have less evaporation loss due to the streams being used instead of sprays, sprays having more water surface area which can more readily evaporate.   However, variable arc nozzles(VAN's) have the highest outflow rate/precipitation rate(per area) of the nozzles, and an advantage with them is quick application rate, and most probably also, low evaporation rate, due to the larger water volume that they throw out, - they're not so 'spray-ee' as typical sprays, the water 'droplets' are larger with VAN's and hence less evaporation is likely, at least compared to standard sprays.   And being that they have the highest precipitation rate they're also the quickest to cause run-off, so cycling run times is necessary, as conditions may necessitate.  And, rotors and multi-stream rotors typically have the lowest precipitation rates, making them less likely to cause runoff, though runoff is also a matter of continuous run-time.   So, whichever irrigation system is used, have it stop short of runoff.  And, as necessary and appropriate, have cycled run times in order to minimize runoff and get deeper water absorption.

The ideal planting time for these sort of plants is after the first couple of rains of the cool season(autumn/winter) and then they would still get more rain during the remainder of the cool season, at least in a normal rainfall season/year. That way you can minimize additional watering beyond the initial planting ground soaking.   But that's just an ideal.  Planting anytime can still work with appropriate care.

Also, as mentioned briefly a few paragraphs above, micro-sprays or micro-streams are good options for watering medium to tiny areas, if drip isn't used.  The advantage of these includes focused watering for small areas from twelve feet down to a few inches, and, less material being used compared to pvc pipe systems, though typically a little more maintenance is required, though infrequent, with the irrigation parts, as they can occasionally get out of adjustment, or get clogged, which you can simply open up to let the water flush, then put back on.

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Green Thumb San Diego Comprehensive Landscape Design Plants