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California Native Landscape Designer — Rob Moore

Posted By on February 1, 2011

Enjoy Rob’s full story at his Native Landscaper site — I’ve excerpted a portion of it below:

California Native Landscape Design

My Story

By Rob Moore

The Jacumba Mountains were of particular interest to me as a child because this was the location of the Desert Lookout Tower. It was surrounded with giant boulders and featured fascinating rock carvings as well as a little shop/museum where artifacts, souvenirs and refreshments were offered. The tower was constructed in the 1920′s and was staffed by a friendly gentleman who sold admission tickets and offered up historical information printed on a pamphlet. After ascending a few flights of stairs to the top of the tower we would be rewarded by an amazing 360 degree view of an ‘other-worldly’ landscape with segments of the old auto trail road winding down the steep incline. It seemed there was always a steady breeze at the tower, even though just below the desert temperatures were hot and unforgiving. Being up on the deck was a wonderful treat. I found the varying terrain and native flora fascinating, and I loved experiencing it by way of regular road trips with my grandparents, my grandpa narrating all the while.

As a young child I always enjoyed these road trips to the back–country. We would drive up old Hwy 80, bouncing along to the rhythm of what seemed like an endless succession of expansion joints; stop a mile or so south of the Los Terrinitos/Descanso junction and eat lunch under the Coast Live Oaks. This shady destination featured a natural roadside spring and was known as Ellis Wayside rest stop, named for Charles Ellis who was Station Master of the Coyote Wells Stage Stop circa 1865.

I was fascinated with the history of the meandering old concrete highway and the circuitous path it wound through giant boulders that jutted out of the chaparral. Manzanita covered the hillsides and I remember being intrigued by their smooth red bark and how green the country side was at the height of the summer. All the while, I was being drawn in by stories of the old stage coach road that my grandpa’s older brother and father traveled back and forth from the Imperial Valley to San Diego at the turn of the century.

When I was ten, my mom re–married and we moved from Lakeside east to an unincorporated area near Alpine known as Flinn Springs. This exciting new place I was lucky enough to call home, was a vast, wide-open plant community, known in California native plant circles as interior sage scrub. I spent countless hours wandering the hills, exploring, and familiarizing myself with the native flora and fauna. The ubiquitous aroma of Black Sage and Artemisia filled the air as I wandered the seemingly endless trails and pushed through the Chamise, always careful to avoid the sharp spines of the Yucca whipplei. I scrambled over huge granite boulders hunting for snakes, lizards and horny toads. During the hot inland afternoons I would find respite in the cool shade of a grove of Coast Live Oak in a nearby canyon, an area we simply referred to as ‘The Oaks’.

I got to know the critters that called this community home, as well. Jack rabbits would appear out of nowhere, bolt across my path and disappear into the brush a few seconds later. Flocks of our state bird, the California Quail, with their signature three-tone call exemplified the ‘sound’ of the chaparral.

Occasionally, I would see a greater roadrunner with an unfortunate reptile dangling from her beak. I heard that seeing one of these birds was good luck, so I was always excited when a sighting occurred, hopefully optimistic that something good was going to happen to me in the near future! Of course, I was always on the lookout for rattlesnakes and ever aware of the red-tailed hawk circling high above in search of his next meal. With so many new discoveries and experiences, this was a truly magical time of my life!

Unfortunately, this magical time was to be short–lived. As I was enjoying a care–free life in the sage scrub, a large developer was meticulously plotting to implement a much different vision for my beloved open space. With final approval from the County, his bulldozers began the process of systematically destroying this paradise I had grown so fond of. We had heard rumors but that didn’t soften the shock that fateful day I came home from school only to see acre upon acre of scrapped hillside, literally stripped of all vegetation.

The vernal pools left over from winter rains where I caught frogs and pollywogs in the spring, the great granite boulder that had been precariously embedded in the side of the hill for thousands of years—a place where I built a make–shift Indian enclosure under a Laurel Sumac which grew from its base, even the bike trail and dry creek bed that my brother and I would race through, flying up and out of the other side—in a matter of days…gone forever!

My family and I moved shortly after construction began, but I never got over the sadness I felt from losing this place. I carried it with me for many years longing to return to the wild place where I felt so at home.

That experience was indelibly imprinted in my malleable young mind. Throughout my adulthood I would notice feelings of sadness and frustration rising whenever I saw native land being cleared for a new housing project or shopping center. I always wished that there was something I could do to rectify what I saw as an on–going wrong, being perpetrated on our natural environment.

As fate would have it, many years later, as I was finishing up my education in ornamental landscape design, I happened across an advertisement for a course in designing landscapes utilizing California native plants. It was offered at the Theodore Payne Foundation located in Sun Valley. I was intrigued and, even though it was a long drive from my home in Orange County, I decided to enroll.

At some point over the course of the four weekends I spent there, while walking through their nursery, the realization struck me. I realized that the plants I had loved so much in my childhood, were not only available for purchase, but could be grown in suburban gardens, and that as a Landscape Designer, there was something I could do about the on-going destruction of our native open spaces. Like the proverbial apple falling on my head, I was overcome with a feeling of joy, one that I had known as a child growing up in the wild places in the back–country of San Diego County, the feeling of coming full-circle, of coming home.

At that moment I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had discovered my calling: California native landscape design. Today, with every garden I design, assist others to create through consultation, lecture, or writing, I am recreating that lost paradise from my childhood. I am restoring California’s native landscape, one design at a time!

Fertilisers ‘reducing diversity’

Posted By on May 3, 2009

Scientists have identified why excessive fertilisation of soils is resulting in a loss of plant diversity.

Extra nutrients allow fast growing plants to dominate a habitat, blocking smaller species’ access to vital sunlight, researchers have found.

As a result, many species are disappearing from affected areas.

A team from the University of Zurich, writing in Science, warned that tighter controls were needed in order to prevent widespread biodiversity loss.

Estimates suggest that the global level of nitrogen and phosphorous available to plants has doubled in the past 50 years.

Looking at grasslands, the researchers said it was widely recognised that an increase of chemical nutrients in an ecosystem led to a loss of diversity, but the mechanism of how it was occurring had been difficult to determine.

“You would think that more [nutrients] would lead to more biodiversity,” said co-author Andrew Hector, a researcher at the University of Zurich’s Institute of Environmental Sciences.

“Yet it is considered to be one of the main threats to biodiversity this century.”

“When you get an increase in fertilisation, you get an increase in productivity, leading to increased plant biomass and increased shading.

“This shifts the idea to light being the critical resource, with shorter species being shaded out by taller species, resulting in a loss in diversity.”

Professor Hector’s team, led by PhD student Yann Hautier, fitted lights to the understory of grass in boxes containing fertilised soil.

“Additional understory light compensated for the increased shading caused by the greater above-ground biomass production,” they explained.

The supplementary light “prevented the loss of species and maintained… levels of diversity”.

The findings led the team to conclude that it was the lack of access to light that affects diversity, not an increase in the strength of competition.

“What our research shows is that competition for light is very asymmetric.

“So if a plant can get between the sun and its competitors, not only can it get all the light it needs but it can also block its competitors’ access to light.

“Because this competition for light is such a ‘winner takes all’, it emphasises how important it is that we control nutrient enrichment.”

via BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Fertilisers ‘reducing diversity’.

Extinction has a weird appeal

Posted By on May 2, 2009

This week, the Sears Tower in Chicago collapsed, London was swallowed by the Thames and Atlanta was taken over by wild beasts on a television show called Life After People. Ordinarily the History Channel, which aired it, uses old footage and photographs to bring the past to life. But last year the network decided to envision, with the help of time-lapse photography and computer graphics, what would happen to the world if, from some unspecified cause, every last human being died. Over the course of two hours, highways disappeared under meadows, collapsing cities turned into verdant hillocks and automobiles crumbled into dust.

It was macabre but riveting. Life After People became the most-watched programme in the history of the History Channel. Hence this season’s 10-part follow-up, which has just begun to air. It is not the only evidence of a new fascination with human extinction. Two years ago in the US, Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us became one of the top 10 non-fiction bestsellers of the year. This spring Fox bought the rights to turn it into a major film.

Mortality is an obsession as old as our culture (“Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return”). So is Judgment Day. Extinction, though, is a relatively recent worry. Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” still shocks us with its vision of man winding up, like other species, “blown about the desert dust, / Or seal’d within the iron hills.”

What is the appeal of Life After People? It is fun to watch things break down and blow up on television, of course. But there was a vindictive serves-you-right tone to last year’s film: “San Francisco’s stately wooden Victorians are now only useful as timber,” says a gravelly voiced narrator as a street is consumed by flames. The same voice describes the crumbling of Manhattan: “The tunnels echo with the sound of cracking steel and cement as the streets above are sucked into the underground.” Such scenes rub mankind’s nose in the fact of its impermanence. A few stone-chiselled memorials will survive, from the pyramids to Mount Rushmore, but mould spores will devour our libraries and acid will melt our films. The History Channel view is Tennyson’s, recast in a mood not of dread but of glee.

A frequent technique is to go to places that humans have abandoned and to see what has happened to them: the island of Hashima 35 years after the Japanese coal industry abandoned it, for instance, or parts of Gary, Indiana, that have been derelict for decades. The news is mixed. If you are human, these are catastrophes. If you are an ailanthus tree, you will have a different perspective.

via FT.com / Columnists / Christopher Caldwell – Extinction has a weird appeal.

Native Plants and Biodiversity — Montana Wildlife Gardener

Posted By on April 27, 2009

The US has lost vast portions of its regionally distinctive flora and fauna to lawn-based yards. Lawns and traditional landscapes composed of relatively few ornamental plant species across the country have homogenized our nation. Landscape architects and installers across the country still use a limited palette of few species all over this country. As a result, these simplified landscapes resemble other climates and countries more then they do the US. As a result, yards in Maryland resemble yards in Utah, which resemble yards in northern Idaho.

Although many ornamentals commonly used in landscaping are not invasive, per say, the cumulative effect, as Tallamy and Shiropshire contend, is that they might as well be. Non-native ornamental species now cover the landscape as a result of commercial propagation and installation, so completely, and so effectively, that if you didn’t know the cause of the spread, you would think they are invasive species. What is the difference between purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria) or dalmatian toadflax (Linaria dalmatica) and arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis) , hosta (Hosta spp.) , or even petunias (Petunia spp.) when you add up the collective acreage?
Tallamy and Shiropshire demonstrate that native plants support significantly greater Lepidopteran species richness than common, non-native landscape plants that evolved elsewhere. Furthermore, they way butterflies used native plants was different and more diverse than the non-natives. For example, native plants attracted egg-laying females and supported their larvae, over an order of magnitude greater than with common non-native ornamental plants.

I commonly hear people justifying the use of commercially available, and regionally homogenous, cultivars by saying that they are ecologically similar to natives. As I have mentioned before, this is not the case. By definition, native insects have little or no evolutionary history with introduced plants, and thus the plants are of little use to them beyond occasional feeding, typically by adults (one short-lived life stage).

For example, it is common to hear gardeners extol the virtues of a non-native species that is a great plant for butterflies, because they see them feeding on it (Russian sage [Perovskia atriplicifolia], for example), and yet these plants are also touted for their insect and disease resistance. Planting individual, exotic species for individual wildlife species should be a thing of the past and we should think about native species and plant communities that provide for multiple animal families.

Homeowners should embrace the unique characteristics of their climate, geography and natural history when designing their garden. Native plant communities should be embraced and celebrated, rather than removed and converted to a landscape that could be found anywhere. As a group, homeowners can have a profound influence on the landscape. We need to recognize this and educate others about the positive beneficial effects or native plants as a basis for yards and demand more from nurseries, and public landscapes.

via Montana Wildlife Gardener.

The Bradley Method

Posted By on April 12, 2009

via The Bradley Method.

Strategy. The basis of this method is the native species ability to recolonize by tipping the ecological balance away from the weeds and toward the native plants. If one begins by clearing out the weeds from the most heavily infested areas, the weeds will come right back because they are given ideal conditions: bare, disturbed soil exposed to direct sunlight. But, by working a little at a time, from the strongholds of natural vegetation towards the weeds, the native vegetation is favored and its natural regenerative power will prevail over the weeds.

Plan of Work

In this sequence the Bradleys designed work for one person to follow, working from the best stand of native vegetation to the worst infestation of weeds. By keeping the sequence always the same, it can be followed by any number of people in any number of places.
1. Prevent Deterioration of Good Areas. Start by getting rid of weeds that occur singly or in groups of four or five. Check once or twice a year for missed weeds.
2. Improve tithe Next Best. Choose a place that you can visit easily and often, where the native vegetation is pushing against a mixture of weeds and natives, preferably not worse than one weed to two natives. Start with a strip about 12 feet wide and no longer than you can cover about once a month during the growing season. If this boundary is on a steep slope that might erode, clear a number of patches instead, but still no more than 12 feet from the vigorous native vegetation. Let a few months go by before you lengthen the strip. Your experience will dictate whether  to make the strip longer or shorter.
3. Hold the Advantage Gained Resist the temptation to push deeper into the weeds before the regenerating natives have stabilized each cleared area. The natives need not be very tall but should form a dense ground cover. The Bradleys think excluding light from the ground is very important since weed seedlings consistently appear in bare soil at the edges of paths and clearings even when relatively undisturbed and surrounded by dense native vegetation.
4. Cautiously Move into the Really Bad Areas When the new growth consists almost entirely of native species with only a few weeds, it is safe to move further into the weeds. Don’t start to clear a block of solid weeds until you have brought the good native vegetation right up to that area. Solid infestations of weeds can be worked on at the edges by forming peninsulas of weeds, small clearings less than six feet in diameter. Also, spot weeding, removing a single large weed plant next to a native plant in the middle of a solid weed infestation, will bring remarkable results by allowing the native plant to grow much faster. There is no reason to hurry this process; much more is gained by allowing the native plant to grow well before removing another adjacent weed.

S.F.’s scraps bring joy to area farmers

Posted By on April 3, 2009

Every morning, garbage trucks swing by the Hotel Nikko, the Palace Hotel and MoMo’s, picking up food left on dinner plates and in San Francisco chefs’ kitchens. Green crews hit neighborhoods from the Mission to the Sunset, collecting oatmeal, chicken bones and dead tree leaves.

About 2,000 restaurants, 2,080 large apartment buildings and 50,000 single-family homes have embraced the city’s environmentally friendly green bins. The scrap is turned into gold, a rich compost that boosts the region’s bounty of food while curbing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

San Francisco’s garbage and recycling companies are leading the way in producing a high-quality, boutique compost tailored for Bay Area growers, experts say. In one year, 105,000 tons of food scraps and yard trimmings – 404 tons each weekday – get turned into 20,000 tons of compost for 10,000 acres.

The compost is in such demand from nearby growers of wine grapes, vegetables and nuts that it sells out at peak spreading season every year.

One big payoff comes from the crops that return to feed the Bay Area, making a full circle of food returning to food. The composted crops are sold in farmers’ markets to restaurants such as Chez Panisse in Berkeley and in wine made by Sonoma and Napa vintners.

Reducing waste

Returning decaying organic matter to the soil also helps San Francisco meet a state law that requires cities to reduce waste going to landfills. The move also keeps plant and animal material out of the dumps, where it decomposes and emits methane, a greenhouse gas, and can leak into water supplies.

The city’s success in the world of waste is attracting attention as a model for other cities, experts say. Meanwhile, Mayor Gavin Newsom is expected to take an ordinance to the Board of Supervisors that would make composting and recycling mandatory for all residential and commercial customers and levy fines of up to $500 for repeat offenders.

San Francisco has a self-imposed goal of diverting three-quarters of its waste from landfills in 2010. Food scraps thrown in black garbage bins make up about a third of that.

Other Bay Area counties are revving up green waste collection. Waste Management picks it up in Oakland, Hayward and other East Bay cities and sends it to commercial composters.

GreenWaste collects in Sonoma and Santa Clara counties and creates a compost for sale to growers and gardeners. The organic material that Allied Waste Management Services picks up in parts of Alameda and Contra Costa counties is used as landfill cover.

San Francisco’s compost is sold under the brand of Jepson Prairie Organics, a subsidiary of Norcal Waste Systems, the parent company of employee-owned Sunset Scavenger and Golden Gate Disposal and Recycling Co.

via S.F.’s scraps bring joy to area farmers.

One hundred ten ways to save water

Posted By on April 2, 2009

One hundred ten ways to save water

#1 There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.
#2 When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
#3 Some refrigerators, air conditioners and ice-makers are cooled with wasted flows of water. Consider upgrading with air-cooled appliances for significant water savings.
#4 Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
#5Run your clothes washer and dishwasher only when they are full. You can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
#6 Choose shrubs and groundcovers instead of turf for hard-to-water areas such as steep slopes and isolated strips.
#7 Install covers on pools and spas and check for leaks around your pumps.
#8 Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.
#9 Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
#10 For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
#11 Monitor your water bill for unusually high use. Your bill and water meter are tools that can help you discover leaks.
#12 Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
#13 Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
#14 Spreading a layer of organic mulch around plants retains moisture and saves water, time and money.
#15 Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.
#16 If your shower fills a one-gallon bucket in less than 20 seconds, replace the showerhead with a water-efficient model.
#17 Collect the water you use for rinsing fruits and vegetables, then reuse it to water houseplants.
#18 If water runs off your lawn easily, split your watering time into shorter periods to allow for better absorption.
#19 We’re more likely to notice leaks indoors, but don’t forget to check outdoor faucets, sprinklers and hoses for leaks.
#20 If you have an automatic refilling device, check your pool periodically for leaks.
#21 Check the root zone of your lawn or garden for moisture before watering using a spade or trowel. If it’s still moist two inches under the soil surface, you still have enough water.
#22 When buying new appliances, consider those that offer cycle and load size adjustments. They’re more water and energy efficient.
#23 Shorten your shower by a minute or two and you’ll save up to 150 gallons per month.
#24 Upgrade older toilets with water efficient models.
#25 Adjust your lawn mower to a higher setting. A taller lawn shades roots and holds soil moisture better than if it is closely clipped.
#26 When cleaning out fish tanks, give the nutrient-rich water to your plants.
#27 Use sprinklers for large areas of grass. Water small patches by hand to avoid waste.
#28 Put food coloring in your toilet tank. If it seeps into the toilet bowl without flushing, you have a leak. Fixing it can save up to 1,000 gallons a month.
#29 When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
#30 Walkways and patios provide space that doesn’t ever need to be watered. These useful “rooms” can also add value to your property.
#31 Collect water from your roof to water your garden.
#32 Designate one glass for your drinking water each day or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.
#33 Rather than following a set watering schedule, check for soil moisture two to three inches below the surface before watering.
#34 Install a rain sensor on your irrigation controller so your system won’t run when it’s raining.
#35 Don’t use running water to thaw food. Defrost food in the refrigerator for water efficiency and food safety.
#36 Use drip irrigation for shrubs and trees to apply water directly to the roots where it’s needed.
# 37 When you are washing your hands, don’t let the water run while you lather.
back to top
#38 Reduce the amount of lawn in your yard by planting shrubs and ground covers appropriate to your site and region.
#39 When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
#40 Teach your children to turn off faucets tightly after each use.
#41 Remember to check your sprinkler system valves periodically for leaks and keep the sprinkler heads in good shape.
#42Use a water-efficient showerhead. They’re inexpensive, easy to install, and can save you up to 750 gallons a month.
#43 Soak pots and pans instead of letting the water run while you scrape them clean.
#44Don’t water your lawn on windy days when most of the water blows away or evaporates.
#45 Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.
#46 Know where your master water shut-off valve is located. This could save water and prevent damage to your home.
#47 To decrease water from being wasted on sloping lawns, apply water for five minutes and then repeat two to three times.
#48 Group plants with the same watering needs together to avoid overwatering some while underwatering others.
#49 Use a layer of organic material on the surface of your planting beds to minimize weed growth that competes for water.
#50 Use a minimum amount of organic or slow release fertilizer to promote a healthy and drought tolerant landscape.
#51 Trickling or cascading fountains lose less water to evaporation than those spraying water into the air.
#52 Use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
#53 Avoid recreational water toys that require a constant flow of water.
#54 Turn off the water while brushing your teeth and save 25 gallons a month.
#55 Use a rain gauge, or empty tuna can, to track rainfall on your lawn. Then reduce your watering accordingly.
#56 Encourage your school system and local government to develop and promote water conservation among children and adults.
#57 Learn how to shut off your automatic watering system in case it malfunctions or you get an unexpected rain.
#58 Set a kitchen timer when watering your lawn or garden to remind you when to stop. A running hose can discharge up to 10 gallons a minute.
#59 If your toilet flapper doesn’t close after flushing, replace it.
#60 Make sure there are water-saving aerators on all of your faucets.
#61 Next time you add or replace a flower or shrub, choose a low water use plant for year-round landscape color and save up to 550 gallons each year.
#62 Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up. This also reduces energy costs.
#63 Use a grease pencil to mark the water level of your pool at the skimmer. Check the mark 24 hours later to see if you have a leak.
#64 If your dishwasher is new, cut back on rinsing. Newer models clean more thoroughly than older ones.
#65 Use a trowel, shovel, or soil probe to examine soil moisture depth. If the top two to three inches of soil are dry it’s time to water.
#66 If installing a lawn, select a turf mix or blend that matches your climate and site conditions.
#67 When you save water, you save money on your utility bills too. Saving water is easy for everyone to do.
#68 When the kids want to cool off, use the sprinkler in an area where your lawn needs it the most.
#69 Make sure your swimming pools, fountains, and ponds are equipped with recirculating pumps.
#70 Bathe your young children together.
#71 Consult with your local nursery for information on plant selection and placement for optimum outdoor water savings.
#72 Winterize outdoor spigots when temperatures dip below freezing to prevent pipes from leaking or bursting.
#73 Insulate hot water pipes for more immediate hot water at the faucet and for energy savings.
#74 Wash your car on the lawn, and you’ll water your lawn at the same time.
$75 Drop your tissue in the trash instead of flushing it and save water every time.
#76 Direct water from rain gutters and HVAC systems toward water-loving plants in the landscape for automatic water savings.
#77 Make suggestions to your employer about ways to save water and money at work.
#78 Support projects that use reclaimed wastewater for irrigation and industrial uses.
#79 Use a hose nozzle or turn off the water while you wash your car. You’ll save up to 100 gallons every time.
#80 Share water conservation tips with friends and neighbors.
#81 If your toilet was installed before 1992, reduce the amount of water used for each flush by inserting a displacement device in the tank.
#82 Setting cooling systems and water softeners for a minimum number of refills saves both water and chemicals, plus more on utility bills.
#83 Washing dark clothes in cold water saves both on water and energy while it helps your clothes to keep their colors.
#84 Leave lower branches on trees and shrubs and allow leaf litter to accumulate on the soil. This keeps the soil cooler and reduces evaporation.
#85 Report broken pipes, open hydrants and errant sprinklers to the property owner or your water provider.
#86 Let your lawn go dormant during the summer. Dormant grass only needs to be watered every three weeks or less if it rains.
#87 Plant with finished compost to add water-holding and nutrient-rich organic matter to the soil.
#88 Use sprinklers that deliver big drops of water close to the ground. Smaller water drops and mist often evaporate before they hit the ground.
#89 Listen for dripping faucets and running toilets. Fixing a leak can save 300 gallons a month or more.
#90 Water only when necessary. More plants die from over-watering than from under-watering.
#91 One more way to get eight glasses of water a day is to re-use the water left over from cooked or steamed foods to start a scrumptious and nutritious soup.
#92 Adjust your watering schedule each month to match seasonal weather conditions and landscape requirements.
#93 Turn off the water while you wash your hair to save up to 150 gallons a month.
#94 Wash your pets outdoors in an area of your lawn that needs water.
#95 When shopping for a new clothes washer, compare resource savings among Energy Star models. Some of these can save up to 20 gallons per load, and energy too.
#96 Apply water only as fast as the soil can absorb it.
#97 Aerate your lawn at least once a year so water can reach the roots rather than run off the surface.
#98 When washing dishes by hand, fill the sink basin or a large container and rinse when all of the dishes have been soaped and scrubbed.
#99Catch water in an empty tuna can to measure sprinkler output. One inch of water on one square foot of grass equals two-thirds of a gallon of water.
#100 Turn off the water while you shave and save up to 300 gallons a month.
#101 When you give your pet fresh water, don’t throw the old water down the drain. Use it to water your trees or shrubs.
#102 If you accidentally drop ice cubes when filling your glass from the freezer, don’t throw them in the sink. Drop them in a house plant instead.
#103 To save water and time, consider washing your face or brushing your teeth while in the shower.
#104 While staying in a hotel or even at home, consider reusing your towels.
#105 When backflushing your pool, consider using the water on your landscaping.
#106 For hanging baskets, planters and pots, place ice cubes under the moss or dirt to give your plants a cool drink of water and help eliminate water overflow.
#107 Throw trimmings and peelings from fruits and vegetables into your yard compost to prevent using the garbage disposal.
#108 When you have ice left in your cup from a take-out restaurant, don’t throw it in the trash, dump it on a plant.
#109 Have your plumber re-route your gray water to trees and gardens rather than letting it run into the sewer line. Check with your city codes, and if it isn’t allowed in your area, start a movement to get that changed.
#110 Keep a bucket in the shower to catch water as it warms up or runs. Use this water to flush toilets or water plants.

What is sustainable landscaping?

Posted By on April 2, 2009

One definition:

A landscape that minimizes the inputs of
natural resources, maximizes recycling of
materials, and minimizes outputs that have
negative effects on the environment – while
still supplying the social need of aesthetics
and utility.

Sustainability — Practices that would ensure the continued viability of a product or practice well into the future.

Sustainable Development — An approach to progress that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

Sustainable Landscaping — Low-impact, low-maintenance, low-resource-use landscaping that fits a particular site and climate.

According to the California Integrated Waste Management Board’s (CIWMB) “Sustainable
Landscaping” publication, “Sustainable landscapes are managed by using practices that
preserve limited and costly natural resources, reduce waste generation, and help prevent air,
water, and soil pollution. The goal is to minimize environmental impacts and maximize value
received from dollars expended.”

Brad Roeller — My definition of a sustainable landscape is one where, once the plants are established (typically a one- to two-year process) the need for additional irrigation, fertilization, or pesticides should be nil. Sounds nice, but I have seen very few examples of sustainable landscapes.

Many “sustainable” landscape designers are using the “natural” model, going “wild” by using native plants in a more naturalistic design. While these intentions are laudable, unless one thoroughly analyzes the growing characteristics of the property and makes wise plant selections based on their investigations, their plantings are destined to need continued sustenance. Even if the necessary site investigations are made and plants are selected based upon growing constraints, unless accepted planting and post-planting care guidelines are used, even the best natives for your site will perform poorly.

One popular application associated with landscaping with natives involves restoration projects in woodlands, meadows, wetlands or other riparian areas where the goal is to introduce indigenous native species back into their representative habitats. This approach is also finding some popularity in residential and even commercial landscapes. While it is typically used for large areas that have varying degrees of functioning native plant communities present, it does have a place in “small” landscapes. The time has come for ecologically designed landscape, and there is no reason that even the smallest of landscapes can’t duplicate a particular and appropriate habitat and landscape with plants obligate to that ecological niche.

San Diego’s Mediterranean climate

Posted By on March 31, 2009

notes from ::

A Visual Tour of
San Diego’s Sustainable Urban Landscapes

presented by
Marian Marum, ASLA

Mediterranean habitats account for 8.5% of land in California, and comprises20%
of the Earth’s named vascular plant species

•Within a single day in this county, we can experience numerous ‘enviro-zones’

•Canyon habitats surround us with incredible natural beauty, despite the lack of rainfall

Mediterranean regions (only 5 in the world) cover only 2.2% of Earth’s surface, yet
host 20% of all known plant species on the planet

•MOST threatened ecosystems on the planet: (Nature Conservancy)

For every 1 ac. of Med. habitat saved, 8 ac. have been permanently lost
(*The Nature Conservancy has protected 1.2 million acres in California)

•Warm/dry summers & cool/wet winters

•Average rainfall in San Diego is only 10 inches. We import over 90% of our water

SUSTAINABILITY EFFORTS in SAN DIEGO:
• RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS
-Scripps Institute of Oceanography/NOAA (renowned global research)
-UCSD, SDSU, CUYUMACA COLLEGE
• SUSTAINABLE ORGANIZATIONS
-San Diego Foundation (Climate Change Study in San Diego)
-San Diego Regional Sustainability Partnership (Consortium/Sustainability Calendar)
-San Diego Sustainability Forum
-San Diego Civic Solutions
-County Water Authority
-California Center for Sustainable Energy
-CleanTech San Diego
-San Diego Natural History Museum
-San Diego Roots (Food not Lawns)
-Nature Conservancy
-C3
-US NAVY, MARINE CORPS, COAST GUARD
• SUSTAINABLE DESIGN/GREEN BUILDING/ENERGY & WATER CONSERVATION:
-USGBC (LEED rating system/NC/EC/Schools/Advocacy)
-CCSE (Regional Energy Office)
-ASLA (Sustainable Sites Initiative & the local Stewardship Committee)
-AIA (Committee on the Environment)
-SANDAG
-CITIES Going Green = San Diego, Chula Vista, Encinitas, Solana Beach
-School Districts

SUSTAINABLE PRINCIPLES in our URBAN LANDSCAPES
1) VALUE and RESTORE NATIVE HABITATS/NATURAL RESOURCES
2) MANAGE and USE RAINFALL/FILTER POLLUTANTS
(swales, basins, permeable surfaces, constructed wetland/bio-filtration units, )
3) WATER EFFICIENT LANDSCAPES (WEL) (reclaimed water, drought tolerant plants
(WUCOLS), smart irrigation, inert decorative mulches)
4) PROTECT and RECLAIM SOIL (erosion protection and composting)
5) RECYCLE MATERIALS (sustainable products and green waste)
6) EMPLOY EDIBLE PLANTS
7) REDUCE IMPERMEABLE SURFACES (Green Roofs, etc)
8) INCREASE SHADE
9) MANAGE FIRE RISK

Landscape Architects Designing Chicken Coops : TreeHugger

Posted By on March 16, 2009

Many people say that when we dig ourselves out of the current economic mess, the world will look very different. But how will people adapt? Daniel Gross writes at Slate that “if the economy is going to recover, Americans need to start taking risks again.” Many of those risks involve careers that didn’t exist before. He describes a few risk-takers, including Landscape architect Susan Durrett.

durret garden image

Gross writes about how she got started:

Layoffs can prove a powerful spur to entrepreneurship. Last October, Susan Durrett was laid off from her job at a San Francisco-based architecture firm whose business designing large resorts and condominium projects had dried up. “Starting my own business was actually my best alternative,” she said. Reasoning that people might be forswearing major remodeling projects for smaller ones, she started her own firm, Susan Durrett Land­scape Architecture, and now has four proj­ects in the works.

But what is really interesting is this description from her website:

We specialize in creating healthy environments and promote sustainable living through our expertise in:-green roof design,
-edible landscapes, including organic vegetables, fruit tree orchards and espaliers, and chicken coop design.

I really don’t think there were very many landscape architects promoting their expertise in chicken coop design and edible landscapes until very recently. The jobs that people are creating for themselves are different, and right now we need fruit tree orchards and chicken coops more than we need resorts.

No chicken coops in the portfolio yet but we will watch Susan Durrett Landscape Architecture

via Light at End of Tunnel Dept: Landscape Architects Designing Chicken Coops : TreeHugger.