Tag Archives: water conservation

Fall Is The Time For Planting California Natives

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pumpkin-patch-playing-in-the-dirt-wordpressWhile a large part of this country is now in the process of preparing their gardens for winter and carving pumpkins for Halloween, here in Southern California our mild Mediterranean climate allows us the joy of year-round gardening. With the soil still summer warm and our rainy season just around the corner, from now (mid-October) through January is the ideal time to plant. And from all the landscapes I’m currently designing and building, fall appears to have surpassed spring as my busiest time of year.

California Native Plants

Except for tropicals, subtropicals and summer vegetables, which are best planted in early summer when the soil is warm, everything else is a go. This includes trees, shrubs and ground covers but most of all California native and Mediterranean plants. These species are particularly well suited to our seasonal rhythms. But don’t be concerned if, for the first couple of months, there isn’t much going on above ground, because come spring, the growth of healthy new foliage will demonstrate that during the intervening months, the plant has been busy establishing it’s root system.

I am particularly fond of using California native plants, not only for their diversity of foliage and blooms, but because the majority of them are drought tolerant, which is very important given the state of our water resources. What follows is a listing of California natives (extracted from Wikipedia) that I suggest you consider when laying out or adding to your garden or landscape this fall.

Selected Perennials

Sunny habitats

California Buckwheat
California Buckwheat

Shady habitats

Ferns

Selected bulbs

California Hyacinth
California Hyacinth

Selected annuals and wildflowers

Selected vines

Dutchman's Pipe
Dutchman’s Pipe

Selected grasses

Grasses:

Grasslike:

Selected succulents

Dudleyas

Sedums

See also

How to Repair Bare Patches of Grass in Your Yard

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bare-patches-grassWith summer coming to a close and kids returning to school, now might be the time to consider dealing with those bare spots of grass in the yard. A yard is an eco-system unto itself and the reason behind the bald patches of grass need to be dealt with before the replanting or re-sodding begins.

What’s Causing the Spots?

There may be a number of causes: lack of water (irrigation is broken or not properly calibrated), rocky or non-draining soil, grubs, dog urine, disease, shade, and compaction. Before you waste time and money you need to figure out what’s causing the problem, deal with it and then proceed.

If your problem is too much traffic, consider rerouting traffic or laying stepping-stones to discourage stepping on the lawn. If shade is the trouble, select a shade-happy variety of lawn seed or sod. If your dog’s urine is the problem, take it for a walk.

Available Alternatives

In addition to planting grass seed there are several alternatives to restoring your lawn:

InstallingSodStep1_300x242.ashx_Sod

If you don’t want to wait for the grass to grow, re-sodding the area is always an option. Home improvement superstores sell sod by the piece and it’s relatively inexpensive. The ground should be properly prepared, fertilized and leveled before cutting the sod to fit the exposed area.

Seed Pads

If you don’t want to spend a lot of time fixing up the lawn, there are some great products that incorporate seeds and a mulch-like covering in one easy application. These products work very well because the shredded paper and pulp that is mixed with the seeds is very effective at keeping the ground moist and the birds at bay. The filling is usually colored blue or green so you can easily see if you have the entire area covered.

Soil Preparation

The health of your lawn and new plantings depend upon the soil in which it is planted.

  • Dig up and remove the grass in the problem area. Remove the top layer of remaining turf and soil
  • Turn over the soil using a spade shovel (has a rounded or pointed end). Be sure to go down  4″ in depth. This breaks up soil compaction making it easier for your new seedling’s roots to grow deeper with more ease. Remove any stones, roots or other plant materials that may hinder the growth of your new grass as you work.
  • Amend the soil by placing compost or a commercial bagged product from your garden center into your loosened topsoil. This can greatly improve the growing conditions for your lawn’s roots. The darker the color of the soil more organic material and nutrients there are in it. Work the organic material into the soil using the spade and or garden rake.
  • Level the surface by using your garden rake to level and create a smooth surface. The soil surface should be the same level as the surrounding soil (or slightly higher to allow for settling). If you are using sod, the soil should be 1″ lower to allow for the depth of the sod’s soil and roots. Take care the surface is even with no low or high spots. This will create a lumpy end result and depressions can collect water, which may lead to disease.

Spread the Seed

Pick a quality grass seed that matches both the type of grass currently growing in your lawn and the requirements of the area it is to grow in.

With the soil prepared, lightly sprinkle the grass seed over the exposed area. Be sure to spread it at the rate as described on the seed packaging. Rake a thin layer of soil over the seeds. Apply a starter fertilizer to assist with jumpstarting the seed growth and ensuring strong roots.

Apply Mulch Covering

Cover the seeded area with a protective layer of mulch. Typical materials include straw, peat moss, or other commercially available products made of recycled newspaper, which conserve moisture and contain starter fertilizer. The covering used is not as important as what it does: conserve moisture, increase turf density and minimize weed seeds from finding your freshly prepared fertile soil.

Keep Soil Moist Until Seeds Sprout

Lightly water the seeds every day, multiple times a day if it is warm, sunny or windy. Keep them moist until you see the seeds germinate and begin to root into the soil, then reduce the frequency of watering. Allow your grass to grow and fill in before you mow. Mowing it too early or too short can damage the grass and possibly uproot it.

Grass Alternatives

Grass consumes an extraordinary amount of water and there are so many alternatives to its use that I suggest, before you spend time and money trying to maintain a perfect lawn, you consider replacing your lawn or a considerable portion of it with drought-tollerent, sustainable native plants and succulents. I’ve written a number of blogs on this subject including my last post, Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn. Help save water and save money by re-thinking how your garden grows.

Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn

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Malibu_11An important article appeared in the New York Times this past Sunday, August 11, 2013, by Ian Lovett, entitled  Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn. As detailed  in the article and quoted in this blog, it examines a very serious concern––lack of water––and how the Southwest and California and Los Angeles, in particular, are dealing with it.

This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, aspects of which I’ve written about on a number of occasions, which you’re more than welcome to check out:

Help Save Water & Save Money

Are You And Your Garden Stressed Out

Five Water-Conserving Tips For Summer Gardening

Water, Water Everywhere … So Where Did It Go?

Southern California’s Most Pressing Problem

A Drought-Resistant Lawn … Is It Possible?

residential-sustainable-1

In the article, it was noted that since 2009, when the Los Angeles’ rebate program began, the city has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns, and more than one million square feet of grass has been removed and replanted with succulents and drought-tollerant native California plants. New city parks provide only token patches of grass, surrounded by native plants, and the park outside City Hall, which was once a field of grass, has been transformed into a garden of succulents.

The first five months of this year were the driest on record in California, with reservoirs in the state at 20 percent below normal levels. The lawn rebate program here will save approximately 47 million gallons of water each year, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. So concerned about this issue, Los Angeles, last month, raised its rebate from $2 a square foot of grass removed to $2.50. Long Beach now offers $3 a square foot.

“The era of the lawn in the West is over,” said Paul Robbins, the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. “The water limits are insurmountable.”

City officials across the region have hailed turf removal as vital, given the chronic water shortages.

Las Vegas Made It Work

Las VegasLas Vegas presents a model of how quickly the landscape can change when a city moves aggressively. In 2003, after a drought wiped out the city’s water resources, the Las Vegas Valley Water District offered what officials believe was the first turf removal rebate program in the country.

Since then, the water district has paid out nearly $200 million to remove 165.6 million square feet of grass from residences and businesses.

In the winter, watering is allowed only one day a week. Homeowners who take advantage of the city’s rebate must sign a deed restriction stating that even if the property were to be sold, grass could not be reinstalled unless the new owner paid back the rebate, with interest.

The city’s investment has paid off. In the last decade, 9.2 billion gallons of water have been saved through turf removal, and water use in Southern Nevada has been cut by a third, even as the population has continued to grow.

“The landscape in Southern Nevada has changed dramatically,” said Patricia Mulroy, the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District. “If you had driven through a single-family development in the 1990s, it would have had grass all the way around. Today, you find desert landscaping. You see very little grass.”

Save Water & Save Money

If you would like to examine the possibility of re-landscaping your home with succulents and drought-tollerant native species, and save water and money, give us a call––we are specialists in creating beautiful, sustainable landscapes.

Green Walls & Woollypockets

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Garden-of-Eva-1I recently completed creating a green wall in downtown Los Angeles for the building that houses the Department of Homeland Security.  No, I didn’t have to be frisked or the plants patted down, but the piece to your right did stir up some interest.

Green walls are definitely stirring up interest and they’re popping up all over the place since all you need is a wall, some sun and a little water, particularly if you’re creating a wall out of succulents, which is what the wall I created consisted of.

What holds all these plants in place is a living wall planter made by the company, Woollypocket. They specialize in providing vertical gardening systems that can be used anywhere and you would be amazed at the range of products that can hang on a wall.

So if you’re interested in hanging plants on a wall that will grow and thrive, check them out, www.woollypocket.com. If you go to their Professionals & Case Studies, you’ll see their products in situ and learn what was involved in their creation including Overview, Pockets, Plants and Irrigation.

Go Green!

Garden of Eva-2img_3933_1 wgw-splendid-store-suthi-picotte-hires1_1 Green Wall

Help Save Water and Save Money

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While I have written about the importance of saving water, “Southern California’s Most Pressing Problem”“Water – Water – Everywhere … So Where Did It Go?”, the reality is that this very serious problem threatens Southern California’s very existence and it isn’t going away! In fact, it’s getting worse. And as we are already in “fire season” (“Firewise Your Landscape“) I thought I would bring to your attention some of the money and water-saving programs and approaches currently available.

Water Conservation in Los Angeles

The City of Los Angeles recently implemented Phase II of its Water Conservation Ordnance, which requires the following:

Summer Fun

  • Outdoor watering with sprinklers is restricted to three days a week with different watering days assigned to odd-numbered and even-numbered street addresses.
  • Customers with odd-numbered street addresses – ending in 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 – are allowed to use their sprinkler systems on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
  • Customers with even-numbered street addresses – ending in 0, 2, 4, 6, or 8 – are allowed to use their sprinkler systems on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
  • Watering with sprinklers is limited to one eight-minute cycle per watering day for non-conserving nozzle sprinkler systems (typical residential system), or two 15-minute cycles per watering day for conserving nozzle sprinkler systems.
  • All outdoor watering is restricted to hours before 9:00 a.m. and after 4:00 p.m., regardless of the watering day.

To continue reading … Eva’s Notes & News

Dwell on Design – LA Convention Center – Saturday (6-22) 1:00 – 3:00 p.m.

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8B6EB5BCFB0B77072AEDC6CE2AAD060F_9124973This Saturday, I’ll be at the LA Convention Center offering free consultations on Landscape Design from 1:00- 3:00 p.m. This gathering is sponsored by APLD’s Focus on Design and the magazine Dwell.

So come on down and introduce yourself and learn how you can improve you landscape, garden and home from advice given by one of the five Best Landscape Designers in Los Angeles.

Pervious Concrete

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When It Rains It Drains

One of the most important aspects of landscaping design is the way water is dealt with. Whenever possible, I try to provide a means of allowing rainwater and sprinkler runoff to seep into the ground. This can be accomplished with the use of gravel, decomposed granite and pervious concrete pavement – when a hard, stable surface is required.

Pervious concrete, also know as porous concrete, permeable concrete, no-fines concrete, gap-graded concrete, and enhanced-porosity concrete, is a unique and effective means to address important environmental issues and support green, sustainable growth. By capturing stormwater and allowing it to seep into the ground, porous concrete is instrumental in recharging groundwater, reducing stormwater runoff, and meeting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stormwater regulations. In fact, the use of pervious concrete is among the Best Management Practices (BMPs) recommended by the EPA—and by other agencies and geotechnical engineers across the country—for the management of stormwater runoff on a regional and local basis.

This pavement technology creates more efficient land use by eliminating the need for retention ponds, swales, and other stormwater management devices. In doing so, pervious concrete has the ability to lower overall project costs on a first-cost basis.

In pervious concrete, carefully controlled amounts of water and cementitious materials are used to create a paste that forms a thick coating around aggregate particles. A pervious concrete mixture contains little or no sand, creating a substantial void content. Using sufficient paste to coat and bind the aggregate particles together creates a system of highly permeable, interconnected voids that drains quickly.

While pervious concrete can be used for a surprising number of applications, its primary use is in pavement.

For more information check out the website Pervious Pavement or watch this YouTube Video. To see a video on pervious concrete in action, click here.

The Monthly Gardener – August – Living Is Easy

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While August may be the “dog days of summer” to some, to me, it’s the time to enjoy your garden to its fullest and if you’ve planted vegetables, a lot of delicious produce.

Other than maintenance and watering, which I have written about extensively over the last couple of months and guarding and spraying against insects, there’s not a lot that you have to do. So sit by the pool, have a barbeque or enjoy our cool summer evenings with friends, family, a pitcher of lemonade or, my preference, a frosty gin and tonic.

However, if you must busy yourself in the garden, do it in the early morning or early evening so that you and your plants aren’t stressed out by the sun and the heat of the day.

Can’t Stop Gardening?

If there are beds that still need to be tended or areas that cry out for help, and if you live in a costal zone, it’s still possible to plant:

and to fertilize:

  • roses, fuchsias, tuberous begonias, tropicals, ferns, water lilies, cymbidiums, warm-season lawns and succulents growing in containers

Pests & Diseases

Scale, spider mites, and thrips may attack during summer months. Mist plants frequently to increase humidity and reduce stress. Treat plant infestations with insecticidal soap, following label instructions or with a neem oil product if the infestation persists.

More Information

If you want to know more about what to do in the garden in August, check out Pat Welsh’s “Southern California Gardening – A Month-by-Month Guide, or Google, “Southern California Gardening August.”

5 Ways To Save Water

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Here are five relatively simply ways to save water, an essential commodity of life. While the information is gardening common sense, it’s been complied by a terrific garden resource, Sunset.  Their newsletter is well worth a subscription.

Select Drought Tolerant Plants

Succulents create a marvelous bed. Planted together, these drought-tolerant plants with their outrageous shapes, striking colors and flamboyant flowers will make a striking front yard or flower bed and will require a fraction of the water a lawn or normal bedding plants require. See my blog on Succulents.

Sensible Watering

Irrigate deeply and infrequently, then allow the soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Water early in the morning, when the air is calm and temperatures are cool. If you have sloping ground or clay soil, water more often but for less time to minimize runoff.

Get Rid Of Your Putting Green

Here in the West, lawns are the number-one consumer of residential water outdoors. Reducing their size, restricting them to spaces where you actually need them (like kids’ play areas), or eliminating them altogether are the most effective ways to reduce your own outdoor water use.

Mulching Saves Water

Organic mulches (ground bark, wood chips, compost) save water by cooling the soil, reducing evaporation, and encouraging healthy roots. They also help eliminate water-hungry weeds. Mulches break down quickly, so you’ll need to reapply them quite often; 2 to 3 inches is usually enough.

Check Your Sprinklers

You can often tell if your system is not working efficiently by watching it run. Or look for signs: Brown spots mean your lawn isn’t getting enough water; wet spots and runoff signal too much water. Make use of your water department’s local lawn-watering guidelines.

Southern California’s Most Pressing Problem

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This year’s California Landscape Contractors Association’s Landscape Industry Show offered, in addition to the usual garden art, nursery stock, turf equipment, fertilizer and lighting, a number of interesting booths and products designed specifically to deal with Southern California’s single most pressing problem – water, or lack there of!

A Smiling Vendor

“Chinatown” or How Water Came To LA

One of my very favorite films is “Chinatown,” not only because it’s brilliantly written, acted and directed, but because it’s based on fact, albeit somewhat fictionalized, and one of its principal characters is LA itself.

Continue Reading January’s Newsletter …