Surviving Drought in Benton County
Are you down and out about the drought? Then come to the Benton Soil and Water Conservation District’s annual Native Plant Sale on February 22, 2014, located at 3079 NE Garden Avenue in Corvallis! Planting natives and other drought-tolerant plants in your home landscape is one of the best ways to address low precipitation conditions. These plants are adapted to growing with lower water requirements. Native plants look beautiful, and birds love them too!
According to the United States Department of Agriculture’s US Drought Monitor, Benton County is experiencing a severe drought (see http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?OR). This January, the USGS gage on the Marys River at Bellfountain Rd. monitored some of the lowest flows in 58 years — since record-keeping began at that site. For more information about the 2014 drought, read this great article (PDF-1 MB).
Here are some tips for homeowners who would like to reduce their water use in the landscape and help their plants survive dry conditions.
Plant natives and other drought-tolerant varieties. Many native plants require less maintenance, are more resistant to pests and disease, and require less water to survive. Many non-native plants are also drought-tolerant: just be sure to choose species that aren’t invasive.
Mulch. Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil, provides nutrients for your plants, improves soil quality, reduces weed growth, and looks attractive.
Compost. Compost provides essential nutrition for plants and helps keep rain or irrigation water in your soil instead of running off.
Tune up your irrigation. An efficient, well-tuned irrigation system uses less water. Fix broken pipes, replace old sprinklers with low-water-use heads, make sure the water is directed correctly, and consider converting to a drip system if you don’t already have one. Making changes in your watering schedule can also help. Water early in the morning or late at night to reduce evaporation. You might also consider reducing the number of days a week you water, and the amount of time the water is on for each cycle.
Visit the Benton SWCD website (www.bentonswcd.org) for more information about the native plants available at the February 22nd sale! The deadline for online orders is this Friday, January 31, 2014. If you miss the order deadline, visit our Native Plant Market on Sunday, February 23rd, from 12:00 noon – 3:00 p.m. All plants will be $3 each. Cash or check only, please.
A great publication that highlights the above concepts, and includes both native and non-native (but not invasive) plants is “Water Efficient Plants for the Willamette Valley”. It is available for purchase for $1.00 from the Benton SWCD. Another great publication is the Naturescaping Workbook, by local author and landscape designer, Beth Young.
About the Author
Holly is an aquatic ecologist, botanist, and educator with more than 25 years of experience in natural resource planning/management, sustainable agricultural practice, and community outreach related to conservation and stewardship on public and private lands.