Seasonal gardening tips and events from the UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County
February Tips & Events for Santa Clara County
“February is the border between winter and spring.”
Quiz: Lawn Mushrooms
In this wet season, you might see mushrooms popping up in your lawn, on the mulch, or under the leaf litter. Is this something to worry about?
Photo credit: Ying Chen
Photo credit: Pixabay
Upcoming Gardening Courses
Just getting started gardening? Or looking for some in-depth information on growing vegetables? Our three-week Gardening for Beginners course introduces basic concepts to help you successfully start gardening. Or for vegetable lovers, our six-week Sustainable Vegetable Gardening course dives into the science of growing your own food. We offer a wide variety of free talks and workshops as well. See our Events Calendar for a full list.
Artificial turf is marketed as a way to save water, but local water districts don’t include it in water-saving lawn removal rebates due to environmental concerns. In sunny areas, artificial turf gets hot, with studies showing temperaturesreaching 140-170°F. That heat can burn people and pets, kill soil microbes, and might even damage nearby plants. Artificial turf using crumb rubber infill may also pose health risks due to lead and other harmful chemicals. After its 8- to 15-year lifespan, the turf will likely end up in a landfill. Yet another downside: soil covered in plastic means there are no plants to help limit CO2 in the atmosphere through carbon sequestration. Consider living lawn alternatives instead.
When did you last adjust your sprinklers? If you don’t use a smart irrigation controller, a set-and-forget approach may waste water and even harm your landscape. When it’s time to change irrigation settings, keep an eye on the weather. In addition to the short-term forecasts that most people are familiar with, the National Weather Service provides temperature and precipitation predictions that cover periods for the next few weeks to months. Use this information plus your plants’ water requirements and your soil properties (ability to absorb water, any hill slope) to adjust your irrigation settings.
There was a flurry of news last November about updates to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s plant hardiness zone map. The zones, designed to help gardeners determine which perennial plants are most likely to thrive for them, are now based on the lowest average winter temperature for 1991–2020. You might wonder, “What does that mean to me?” Santa Clara County zones didn’t change much; you can see the difference by entering your zip code using the link below. The USDA has more information about how to use the map.
If you’re building raised beds for your vegetable garden, you may have heard to avoid treated wood. Pressure-treated lumber contains chemicals to resist insects and rot. Even though alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ) has been deemed safe by the EPA, chemicals could still leach into the soil. Railroad ties contain creosote and should never be used. More desirable options are untreated redwood and cedar, which are naturally rot and insect resistant (but a bit pricey). Untreated hemlock, fir, and pine are also good options. Other choices include composite decking materials, bricks, concrete blocks, straw bales, and steel tanks.
Most lawn mushrooms are harmless to your yard. Mushrooms are the fruiting structures of fungi. These fungi break down organic matter in the soil, making nutrients available for your grass and other plants. The decomposing organic matter also helps to retain moisture and nutrients leading to a healthier lawn. Mushrooms in lawns may be a sign of overirrigation or poor drainage and these issues may impact the health of your lawn.
Follow the link below to learn about different types of mushrooms that may show up in your yard and things to do if you want to do something about them.
Check our calendar for the latest schedule of events. Videos of many past presentations are also available.
University of California Master Gardener volunteers promote sustainable gardening practices and provide research-based horticultural information to home gardeners. Visit our website for more information including: