Now that we are in the middle of the summer, because of the drought and water restrictions imposed by the water departments other garden issues are starting to appear.
Our post last month talked about damage to our sprinkler heads and drip lines made by small outdoor animals (critters, rodents, etc.) looking for water. Although obviously problematic, that damage is easy to identify with regular maintenance and by checking the sprinklers zones, turning them on one by one.

Problems have now gone below ground.

Every summer there is of course gopher, mole and vole activity, but this year the activity is certainly on the rise, and the damage these animals cause is much more than just a nuisance. With the lack of water in open areas and most of our gardens irrigated, the gopher, mole and vole populations seem to be at an all-time high. Not only do these animals continue to dig up our lawn areas, they are also doing damage to the root systems of plants in various ways. Gophers actually cause damage by chewing the roots while moles create havoc in a different way. Moles look for grubs by digging around plants and in doing so, actually expose the roots to the air which causes plants to dry up very quickly. The result in this increased activity by gophers, moles and voles is that we have begun to see plant damage on species that seemed to have gone unscathed in the past. This is particularly unfortunate with the loss of mature shrubs and plants that have taken years to get to their desired fullness and height.

One solution to prevent damage is to re-plant using gopher wire cages in order to help keep the new plantings from being invaded by these animals. When planting or replanting larger shrubs and trees, there can be both positive and negative aspects of using wire gopher cages: one positive is that the cages help prevent gophers and moles from getting close to the main roots; on the negative side however, using cages around plantings forces roots to grow through the wire mesh, and can restrict their hearty growth.

Our goal is to help our readers and gardeners with advice and solutions as we navigate the continued summer difficulties in keeping our Bay Area gardens beautiful.

dying due to gopher damage to the existing hedge

dying due to gopher damage to the existing hedge

Wouldn’t you say that this synthetic lawn installation looks very realistic?

Artificial turf is not the Astroturf your grandma installed on her patio years ago. Improved technology, newer materials and a greater demand for synthetic lawns made it possible for manufacturers to create an extraordinarily realistic product.

Keeping a natural lawn green is getting costlier and goes against the harsh reality of our current and long-term drought conditions on the west coast.

Have you seen the latest artificial turf? Perhaps you walked by it and didn’t even realize it was artificial!

For more information about artificial lawn solutions, please give us a call or e-mail us at



Although the recent changes in the climate have made it necessary to decrease our water consumption, we can still benefit from a luscious, flowering garden. In fact, these adjustments to our water usage has effectively opened up new ways of creating California landscapes.

There are many plants that thrive in California, with blooms that either remain throughout or return each year, and that need very little water and minimum irrigation. These natives are visually pleasing, fill in and naturalize quickly, provide interesting color and texture, and can be quite fragrant. California native plants also increase species diversity of bees, birds, and butterflies; fortify the native ecosystem; provide excellent screening; and enhance existing natural landscapes.

Planting native flowering bushes, shrubs and ground covers makes it easy to decrease water usage, preserve resources and still enjoy an abundant garden.


With the extended drought that we are currently experiencing in the Bay Area, we are now also seeing quite an increase in damage to water systems as a result of small outdoor animals (critters, rodents, etc.) looking for water.

Even as we are diligently practicing minimal watering, we might actually be using more water than we realize due to sprinkler systems not operating efficiently. These inefficiencies are primarily because of critter damage, and even the heavy duty brown drip tubing is getting destroyed! (see photo) These thirsty creatures are looking for a drink of water which forces them to chew through irrigation sprinkler nozzles, heads and drip tubing. We have been seeing geysers springing up all over!

We highly recommend that you check your sprinkler systems zone by zone every 2-3  weeks to make sure the proper water is being distributed to your plants. And don’t forget to also check the visible portion of your sprinkler system (the heads and nozzles), as evidence of creature damage can clearly be seen by the actual tooth marks in the plastic. Damage to a drip system is a little more difficult to find without turning on the sprinklers and looking for geysers or listening for water leaking.

As this record drought continues, we hope this little tip will offer you another way to make sure that you are saving as much water as possible.