GARDEN CLASSES Free classes offered by Castaic Lake Water Agency on garden conservation and management: Feb. 18 – PropagationMar. 18 – Plant selection: trees, shrubsApril 8 – Irrigation basicsMay 13 – Water management/auditJun. 17 – Turf selection/maintenanceJuly 15 – Landscape design principlesAug. 19 – Pest diagnosis: weedsSept. 16 – Pest diagnosis: diseases, insects Oct. 21 – Fall plant selectionNov. 18 – Soils and fertilizers All classes are held at the Castaic Lake Water Agency Conservation Gardens, 27234 Bouquet Canyon Road, Saugus. For information, call Karen Kenkinger at (661) 513-1230 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org SAUGUS – Free classes to teach gardeners – the garden-variety kind as well as the pros – how to landscape with water-saving plants are offered at the Castaic Lake Water Agency. For 10 years now, a series of classes bent on saving water while making everything grow has been offered, part of the agency’s community outreach efforts. More than 4,000 residents, casual gardeners, landscape contractors and anyone willing to get their hands dirty have benefited from the grass-roots effort. “We’re there to give people a good, strong horticultural class,” instructor Tim Wheeler said. “It’s not just for residents. We’re trying to reach contractors, landscapers and workers, anyone working in landscaping, and teach them how to save water. “It’s easy to ask people to cut back. We want to give them tools to cut back with a lot of success where growing conditions are so difficult.” He explained that the climate in the Santa Clarita Valley poses several problems for residents who might have moved from another growing area and expect what flourished in their previous yards to do well here. “The heat, the cold, the lousy soil – a lot of California native plants don’t like our growing conditions,” Wheeler said. “Generally, we have very heavy clay soil compacted by all the development that makes it tough to grow things that do well elsewhere.” The classes go far beyond conservation, digging into topics such as plant selection, pests – both creepy (weeds) and crawly (insects) – fertilizers and garden design. Gardeners can also learn how to protect their homes by planting fire-resistant vegetation, displayed in the water agency’s seven-acre garden. Among the plants are a display of fire-resistant species in a design by urban forester Keith Condon, who works with the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Fuel Modification Division. “The most important thing is to pick species that have a high moisture content, such as succulents like aloe and cactus, and don’t build up a lot of dead materials,” he said. “The combination of those characteristics make them fire-resistant, but the key is maintenance. “There are no plants that are fire-proof, but there are those that will slow down the rate of the fire by reducing the amount of fuel as it gets close to structures,” he said. “You can see where a fire has come up to some newer developments and reached the ornamental vegetation and literally stopped because it ran out of fuel to burn.” He added that the best thing anyone with a yard could do is provide regular maintenance. “Eliminate fuels like pine needles on the roof or around the house,” Condon said. “Maintenance is the key; even if you have the good intentions and plan what could be considered a good landscape for fire safety, if it’s not maintained properly, it could still create a bad situation.” Wheeler said the free classes attract upwards of 100 participants, many of whom appreciate the ability to practice the lessons learned during the lecture portion of the class. Saturday’s class members on pruning were handed shears and sent into the garden to trim shrubs and plants under the watchful eye of Wheeler and instructor Dave Lannom from Mount San Antonio College. For information on the classes, call Karen Denkinger at (661) 513-1230 or e-mail email@example.com Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 firstname.lastname@example.org AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!