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Take the Test: Use a Soil Probe

If you want to create a healthy, thriving landscape full of beautiful plants, you need to know how to use an important soil management tool: a soil probe. 

Irrigation is essential to keep your landscaping green and growing. But to do so, you need to know as much as possible about your soils. One way is to use the Jar Test.

You should also use a soil probe. A soil probe lets you determine a lot more information about the soils in your landscaping. It helps you learn whether your irrigation water is successfully reaching the roots of your plants, or even if it soaks in too deep past the reach of plant roots.  

Without a good picture of your soil profile, you can’t answer questions about effective irrigation. Variability across your landscape could result in different types of soils in different areas, or in soil layers extending different depths.  

A good soil probe will help you figure out when irrigation water has reached the right depth for landscaping plants. It is a simple process with the right tools. 

When your soil is moist, a soil probe should go into the ground easily. Your soil probe will stop when it hits hard, dry dirt and won’t go further.  

How Low Should Your Irrigation Go?  

If your probe stops, it could be hitting a rock, so you may want to reposition it a few inches away and try again. If you are confident you’ve just hit dry soil, put your fingers around the probe at the soil surface, and pull it out. Measure the depth in inches to learn how deep your irrigation penetrates the soil. 

To properly irrigate your plants, understand the depth of their roots. Trees send their roots much deeper into the soil than shrubs, and shrubs have deeper roots than bedding plants like annual and perennial flowers or vegetables.  

Most plants will do fine as long as the top foot of soil is filled with water when you irrigate. Shrubs should be irrigated to a depth of two feet, and trees irrigated to a depth of three feet.  

You can purchase a soil probe at any general hardware story or gardening center. A basic soil probe costs between $30 and $80, but there are high-tech probes costing up to $300.  

This article was inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook available at Hardcopies are available free of charge at the Water Authority’s headquarters, 4677 Overland Ave., Kearny Mesa. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at   




No, Californians, You Won’t Be Fined $1,000 If You Shower And Do Laundry The Same Day

No, Californians, it’s not against the law to shower and do laundry on the same day — even though loud voices in the conservative blogosphere are claiming it is. Taking aim at two water-conservation laws signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, a conspiratorial far-right financial blog called Zero Hedge reported Sunday that Californians could be fined $1,000 a day if they bathe and wash their clothes on the same day. “If you don’t plan to comply it’s going to be way cheaper to move,” the blog post stated.

Californians Approve Measure To Fund Parks, Conservation

California voters have approved a ballot measure allowing the state borrow $4 billion for parks and conservation projects that proponents say will help ensure access to clean drinking water. Proposition 68 — one of five statewide measures on the ballot — passed Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote. The measure lets California issue general obligation bonds to fund parks in underserved neighborhoods and provide money for flood-prevention and clean drinking water projects. It also includes $200 million to help preserve the state’s largest lake, the Salton Sea, which has been evaporating since San Diego’s regional water agency stopped sending it water.

“Trump And Pruitt Are Waging An All-Out Attack”: Inside The Battle To Save California’s Water

The Tijuana River is a temporary river, which is to say that at times it runs dry. But when the rains come, it runs near bursting. After a healthy spring storm, tires and bottles litter the muddy banks. A refrigerator door reclines, half submerged in gray sediment. What looks like an old bathrobe hangs from the trees amid varicolored shreds of plastic bags, uninvited markers of high water. A bright yellow boom, broken free from a network of battens intended to snag larger flotsam, lies idle at the side of a catch basin in Goat Canyon.

OPINION: California’s New Water Restrictions Send Residents Fleeing To Saner States

“Please sir, I want some more,” is no longer a sentiment just for Oliver Twist in the orphanage. A new law in California limits how much water can be used by each household. Now their showers, how many flushes, and how often they can do their laundry will be under the watchful eye of the state government. This from politicians who have pushed policies creating homeless and drug abuse crises throughout the state. They have now decided to clamp down on the use of the most basic needs of civilized living.

California WaterFix Developments Continue

Over the last few weeks, several significant developments related to the California WaterFix project have occurred, not the least of which was the formal creation of the Delta Conveyance and Design Construction Authority (DCA). A joint exercise of powers agreement between the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the DCA gives the the DCA responsibility to staff, design, contract, construct and finance the California WaterFix project.

California State Officials Voice Concerns Over A Federal Plant To Raise The Shasta Dam

In a March of 2018 letter, John Laird, the secretary for the California Natural Resources Agency, asked members of Congress to “not pursue the Shasta Dam enlargement project,” primarily because heightening the dam would violate the McCloud’s Wild and Scenic protections. But the feds don’t seem to be listening. “Congress hasn’t yet given permission [to the Bureau of Reclamation] to waive the state law, but they did give them 20 million bucks,” said Ron Stork, senior policy advocate with the Sacramento-based group Friends of the River.

Carl DeMaio On New Bill Restricting Water Usage In California

A new California law will make it illegal for Californians to shower and do a load of laundry on the same day. The law signed by Governor Jerry Brown will limit individuals daily water use to 55 gallons. Gov. Brown signing AB 1668 sponsored by Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) and SB 606 sponsored by Senator Robert Hertzberg (D-Van Nuys), will implement strict water use limits by January 1, 2020; long-term water use efficiency standards by June 30, 2022; and manage their assigned water rationing goals beginning in 2027. KUSI was joined by Chairman of Reform California Carl DeMaio with more on this new bill.

Man-Made Fabrics Have State Lawmakers Vying For Warning Tags

Your polyester shirt may soon come with a warning label. Lawmakers in California and New York have proposed state bills this year to raise awareness of a problem few consumers may have heard of — synthetic fabrics shedding microfibers into the water system. Reminiscent of the plastic microbeads that were banned from cosmetics, garments made with polymer-based cloth can release as many as 1,900 microfibers per wash that eventually end up in waterways, one study shows. But research is still at the early stages, and few are in agreement about what the best response is.

Water District Delays Tentative Deal With Poseidon For Desalination Plant

Acknowledging opponents’ concerns, the Orange County Water District board on Wednesday night postponed a vote on updated terms for buying water from the desalination plant proposed for Huntington Beach by Poseidon Resources. The nonbinding term sheet, which will be considered again July 18, would revise the groundwork for an eventual contract if Poseidon gets the final two regulatory permits needed for construction and the district decides to proceed. Some 18 residents, environmental activists and representatives from other water districts leveled criticism at the project, questioning the need, the cost and the track record of Poseidon’s 2 1/2-year-old desalter plant in Carlsbad.