We find ourselves going into springtime and looking forward to warm sunny days and all the outdoor activities that go along with the spring and summer time of year. But wait a minute…maybe we ought to reflect on what kind of winter we just experienced. Depending on which agency you talk/listen to, our snow pack in the Sierra’s is at 50% to 60% of average and the reservoirs are far from full. Granted we could still receive some more precipitation before the ‘wet’ season comes to an end, but we need snow a lot more than rain and the weather ‘guru’s’ are calling for a fairly dry spring weather pattern. So what does all of this have to do with homes, inspections or what ever? Well, quite a bit actually. Many of us have yards with plants that we’ve worked hard planting, growing and nuturing, some maybe for years that add to the esthetics and value of our homes. Others of us may have vegetable gardens and/or fruit trees that we have been laboring over and nurturing for food. These gardens, trees, bushes and vegetables all need water all summer long if they are to grow, produce and thrive. Last summer, thanks to a controversial mandate by the State Water Board that the lake level at Pinecrest Lake must be maintained at an elevation at or above 5608’ until after Labor Day, those of us that are supplied water by T.U.D. (Tuolumne Utilities District) were forced into Phase 3 Water Restrictions in order for the State Water Board to agree to a one time lake level reduction below the 5608’ level. T.U.D. and P.G. & E. (Pacific, Gas & Electric) had to apply for the variance because T.U.D. would probably run out of water to serve the community without the variance. Unfortunately, we appear very possibly to be headed down the very same path again this year. So the question than becomes, what possibly can you do to help alleviate this problem of lack of adequate water and it’s increased cost to your pocket book and treasured plants/trees in your yard? Mulching and smart irrigation methods are the answer. You probably should have started earlier during winter with the mulching ‘program’, but late is better than never. If you weed and mulch around your trees and bushes you will provide a layer of organic material that will help keep the earth around and at your plantings much cooler and help hold the water that you do apply to keep the soil moist longer. The organic material also provides cover and nutrients to all the beneficial microorganisms in the soil that help ‘feed’ your trees and bushes. The mulch, if applied to a proper thickness will also smother out weeds that would compete for the water/moisture that is available. Just make sure that you don’t let the mulch accumulate around the base of the plants or trees as it can ‘suffocate’ them, believe it or not. There are probably many other things that you could do, but with spring here and summer just around the corner, the most logical and beneficial thing to look at would be just exactly what your watering/irrigation method actually will be that will be effective and not be cost prohibitive. If you haven’t already, seriously look into installing drip watering systems to water your yard plantings. A drip system, if properly installed, can save a bunch of water over hand watering or sprinklers, and it will save you a bunch of money at the same time. Now, get out in the yard and ‘get after it’!