OCEANSIDE — There has been a shift in the way Californians think about gardening.
Horticulture instructor and urban sustainability gardener Jill Morganelli noticed the change in summer 2007 after the release of “An Inconvenient Truth.” Classes on sustainable urban landscaping that formerly appealed to an interest niche of 17 to 25 students, suddenly were packed with 45 students.
The popularity of low-water use “California-friendly” gardening was evident at the Residential Landscaping Workshop sponsored by the city of Oceanside and taught by Morganelli at MiraCosta College on March 28.
The room was packed with 64 gardeners eager to learn how to use less water and maintain a green yard.
“Some people wanted to get in so badly they brought their own chairs,” Nancy Romero, water conservation educator with the city of Oceanside, said.
Dan and Carole Ross of Oceanside wanted ideas on what to put in place of their grass lawns.
“We’re planning to remove one or two lawns,” Dan Ross said. “We also want to save a bit of water,” Carole Ross said.
Saving water was on most workshop students’ minds.
In urban areas, 60 percent of water is used for irrigation.
“We use way too much water,” Janene Possell, an Oceanside resident, said. “This is a great informational discussion about alternate things to do.”
The half-day workshop covered topics that ranged from understanding plant nomenclature to mapping out plot plans and effective use of irrigation systems.
“Hydrozoning is where most of you make your biggest mistake,” Morganelli said. The workshop taught gardeners to consider the water and sun “hydrozoning” needs of plants and group like plants together.
From the beach to I-5 there are three distinct habitat zones that suit different types of plants.
“Figure what habitat you’re in rather then trying to make your yard something its not,” Morganelli said.
Cutting back on excessive water use was also a recommendation. Morganelli suggests gardeners stop watering until plants show initial signs of stress to find a benchmark for how often to water.
“Watch your plants — you’ll be amazed at what you’ll see,” Morganelli said.
Additional city-sponsored gardening workshops are scheduled for May 23, June 23 and June 25.
For more information on workshops and water conservation tips, visit www.ci.oceanside.ca.us.