UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
UC Master Gardener Program
University of California
UC Master Gardener Program

Latest Statewide Master Gardener News

Tips for saving water in your landscape during drought

On April 1, 2015, following the lowest snowpack ever recorded and with no end to the drought in sight, Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced actions that will make California more drought resilient. Photo credit: ca.gov/drought

Standing in the usually snow-packed Sierra Nevada Mountains, Gov. Jerry Brown called for a mandatory reduction of water use across California the beginning of this month. For the first time in the state a required water conservation action has been called, shedding light on the severity of California's drought conditions.

At the direction of Gov. Brown the State Water Resources Control Board will require local water districts to impose a 25 percent water restrictions on all resident's water use.

Green lawns may become a thing of the past in California, according to Gov. Brown. (Photo credit: Faith Kearns, UC California Institute for Water Resources)
“People should realize we are in a new era,” Brown said. “The idea of your nice little green grass that gets water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past.”

These new mandatory restrictions have left many home gardeners to wonder what this means for their home landscape.

Reducing Water Use in the Garden

According to The California Garden Web, an informational website about gardening hosted by the UC Master Gardener Program, water use in the home landscape can often be easily reduced by 20 to 40 percent because overwatering is a common mistake by homeowners. Slowly start to reduce water supplied to plants over the course of a few weeks, giving the plants time to adapt to the change.

It is important for residents to remember to not introduce new plants to your landscape during a severe drought. Even California native plants aren't drought-tolerant until they become well established. When water restrictions are lifted and new plants can be introduced, select drought-tolerant varieties appropriate for your climate zone. 

Planting in the fall as opposed to the spring allows plants to become established by winter rains. Residents should prioritize water use in their landscape, saving established trees and large shrubs first because they are typically more expensive to replace and require years to mature.

Understanding the water cycle of plants is useful for developing effective watering schedules and for recognizing and correcting signs of drought stress. (Fig 4.1 California Master Gardener Handbook)
The lawn should be given a low water priority. As Brown stated during his address, “nice little green grass that gets water every day, that's going to be a thing of the past.” The lawn is often underused and typically mismanaged with overwatering in the home landscape. Lawn can easily be reestablished over a short period of time, or replaced with ground covers, mulches or hardscapes. If saving a lawn is a must, remember to mow your lawn higher during very warm weather and only water at night between 9 pm and 6 am.

UC Master Gardener Program Offers Help

The UC Master Gardener Program has volunteers across the state, trained by University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE), available to answer the public's questions about how to save established trees, plants and reduce water use in their yards.

Many of the program's 50 county-based locations offer free to the public hotline services, home irrigation analysis and workshops for the public that are aimed at helping California's residents reduce their water use. Contact a local UC Master Gardener Program for more water saving information and resources.

Trusted Resources

The new second edition of the California Master Gardener Handbook from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is a great resource for drought tips and home landscape water conservation methods. With an extensive chapter dedicated to water conservation methods, best practices for irrigation, plant selection, and tips for protecting water quality in urban landscapes.

Another great option is to use the irrigation worksheet for homeowners that was recently developed by Dr. Loren Oki, CE Specialist, Landscape Horticulture with UC ANR and UC Davis. The worksheet is designed to calculate an irrigation schedule for a landscape zone for one calendar year.


Posted on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Garden Sense Program Recognized for Saving Californians Millions of Gallons of Water


UC Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardeners of Sonoma County's Garden Sense project won first place in the community service category for the Search for Excellence awards at the 2015 International Master Gardener Conference (being held Sept. 2015)!  This incredible achievement acknowledges the outstanding contribution by the UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County to their community. 

“Garden Sense is a wonderful example of partnership between UCCE Master Gardener volunteers and our local water agency.  A lot of hard work went into developing this innovative program by many volunteers.  Everyone involved feels like they're making a real impact in our community in the very important area of water conservation practices.”  - Mimi Enright, Program Coordinator

Trained UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County consult local residents on efficient water practices for the home landscape.
UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County partnered with the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA) to deliver the program called Garden Sense.  Most home landscapes, which comprise the majority of home water use, have been created without any regard to our summer-dry climate, and the public is not aware of the water needs of commonly used landscape plants.  The Garden Sense program, initiated in September 2013, is available to all Sonoma County residents to help address this issue.

UCCE Master Gardeners of Sonoma County presently have 50 trained volunteer consultants who receive advanced training in lawn conversion, water management, irrigation systems, and low-water use plants.  By working together the UCCE Master Gardener Program and the Sonoma County Water Agency help to conserve precious water resources and protect our communities and environment through responsible gardening practices. 

Water savings as a result of the first year of Garden Sense consultations are estimated at an equivalent to six acre feet of water saved annually (nearly 2,000,000 gallons)!

For more information about saving water in your home landscape visit your local UC Master Gardener Program for event and workshop information. The newly revised UC ANR California Master Gardener Handbook has helpful information about water conservation and sustainable landscaping practices. 

Posted on Thursday, March 12, 2015 at 9:51 AM

How to Prune a Hybrid Tea Rose


Many home gardeners plant roses in their landscapes because they can be easy to grow and produce a wide variety of beautiful scented flowers. If you live in California and you haven't already pruned your hybrid tea roses, don't wait! Now is the time to get out and prune.

Roses are typically pruned before dormancy ends in late winter to early spring. In most parts of the state this typically runs from Dec. 15 – Feb 15. The amount of pruning needed depends on the type of rose you are pruning. If you have the most common home garden rose, the hybrid tea rose (3 – 5 feet tall with large, mostly single flowers) they require more extensive pruning. 

Watch this short video with Marcia Nelson, UC Master Gardener of Yolo County, and learn some simple tips about how to properly prune a hybrid tea rose for desired shape, growth and flower production.

According to the California Master Gardener Handbook, always remember to follow the fundamental pruning practices for all garden roses:

  • Remove broken or damaged canes
  • Remove rubbing or crossing canes
  • Remove spindly canes, those smaller than a lead pencil
  • Make clean cuts towards the outside of the plant at a 45° angle just above a bud or shoot
Posted on Monday, March 2, 2015 at 10:57 AM

Help Stop Invasive Garden Plants from Overrunning California's Landscapes!

Green fountain grass - Photo Credit: Ritu Goswamy
This spring, PlantRight is conducting its 6th Annual Spring Nursery Survey! UC Master Gardener volunteers can help PlantRight track the availability of invasive plants by simply visiting local nurseries. Check with your local county program coordinator to find out if your program offers volunteer hours for participation.

Participation in the 2015 Spring Nursery Survey is easy, educational, and fun! Volunteers will:

  1. View an online training
  2. Download required survey materials (e.g. survey form & plant ID key)
  3. Sign up to survey a randomly selected store in their county
  4. Visit the store and record information about any invasive plants being sold
  5. Submit information to PlantRight

Highway iceplant - Photo Credit: Carol Pancner
The survey process takes approximately 2.5 hours to complete and can be done with other volunteers - if approved by your county these hours can count towards certification volunteer hour requirements. Returning volunteers may view the full training or a shorter refresher video.

PlantRight will host two training webinars to reflect different survey periods for Southern California (San Luis Obispo, Kern San Bernardino Counties and south) and Northern California: 

Southern California Webinar:
Monday, February 23rd, from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Northern California Webinar:
Wednesday, April 15th, from 7:30 – 8:30 p.m.

Sign up at: www.plantright.org/survey-registration


“2014 saw many common invasive plants decline in availability, yet some are more popular than ever. Help us prevent the next big invasive by making the 2015 survey our most successful yet!” –Chris Crawford, PlantRight Survey Manager

2014 Survey Highlights

Mexican feathergrass - Photo Credit: Christine Weber
Thanks to the dedication of more than 120 UC Master Gardener volunteers last spring, PlantRight's 2014 survey was a huge success. Drawing from data collected at 226 stores in 35 counties across the state, PlantRight saw a decline in the availability of invasive plants from their original list, from around 30% in past years to 19% of stores surveyed.

Driving this positive change was a large decrease in periwinkle (Vinca major), dropping from 17% in past years to 9% of surveyed stores. However, the number of stores selling the most recently added invasive plants on PlantRight's list (updated in early 2014) increased. Notably, the drought-tolerant emerging invasive Mexican feathergrass (Nassella tenuissima) increased in prevalence from 27% in 2013 to 38% in 2014.

A comprehensive report and simplified fact sheet detailing the results can be found on the Spring Retail Nursery Survey – 2014 Fact Sheet. These results act as PlantRight's guiding light, shaping its strategy and helping it move forward collaboratively with the nursery industry.

2015 New Plant List

After a year-long review, PlantRight is very excited to share its brand new 2015 list of Suggested Alternatives for Invasive Garden Plants. This list identifies the top ten priority invasive plants for sale in California and provides recommendations on beautiful alternatives. Without the help of the UC Master Gardeners and the data collected from the annual spring survey, the new and improved list would not have been possible.

We are proud of what we've accomplished together with the UC Master Gardener Program, and look forward to working together again in 2015!

-- For questions, contact Chris Crawford, PlantRight Survey Manager, at ccrawford@suscon.org or (415) 977-0380, ext. 331.


Posted on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 1:03 PM

California Master Gardener Handbook - 2nd Edition - Has Arrived!

California Master Gardener Handbook - 2nd Edition
The highly anticipated 2nd Edition - California Master Gardener Handbook has arrived and is available online for purchase to the public. The California Master Gardener Handbook has been the premiere choice for gardening enthusiasts on the West Coast since it was first published in 2002.

The trusted California Master Gardener handbook is a valuable resource that is packed with research-based information and more than 21 in-depth home horticulture topics. The handbook offers advice on home vegetable gardening, plant propagation, landscape design, insects, water management, weeds and much much more!

What's new inside?

The completely redesigned handbook has updated tables, graphics and color photos throughout. Technical information has been updated by University and industry experts and the handbook is more reader-friendly with a reorganized flow of information.

“The second edition handbook has been a true labor of lots of hard work and dedication and the result shows! The handbook includes many updates and expanded coverage of important topics of interest to UC Master Gardeners and avid backyard gardeners as well. The Water Management chapter include timely topics such as use of graywater and more coverage of edibles than the first edition. Controlling Garden Pests Safely, Landscape and Garden Design, Poisonous Plants and other chapters have been updated and expanded to reflect accurate information pertinent to the needs of today's environmentally-conscientious gardeners.” - Janet Hartin, Environmental Horticulture Advisor, San Bernardino, Riverside and Los Angeles Counties and UC ANR Environmental Horticulture Associate Editor 

New topics include invasive plant species and designing and maintaining landscapes for fire protection.
New content was added on important topics including invasive plant species and designing and maintaining landscapes for fire protection. The poisonous plants chapter was completely rewritten by Judy Alsop, the former Director of the Calif. Poison Control Center, and there is an expanded chapter on water management in the home landscape.

How to order

“We received our new handbooks yesterday and believe me, they are well worth the wait--a beautiful publication that we can all be extremely proud to have as our primary educational resource. Congratulations and thanks to everyone at UC ANR who worked on updating this truly impressive publication!!” - Linda Baity, Program Coordinator, Santa Clara County

If you are a currently certified UC Master Gardener volunteer check with your local program coordinator about purchasing the new publication. All active UC Master Gardeners receive a 40 percent discount on the publication which retails for $37 to the public. Members of the public can order a copy of the publication through a local UC Master Gardener Program or by using the UC ANR online catalog.

Do you already have a copy of the new handbook? We'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section below!


Posted on Monday, January 12, 2015 at 10:01 AM

Next 5 stories | Last story

Webmaster Email: mgwomack@ucanr.edu