Water Conservation

Study of Lawn in Our Gardens: Part II

April 22nd, 2011  |  Published in Landscape Sustainability, Water Conservation

Alternatives to Conventional Turf

turf alternative 001 Study of Lawn in Our Gardens: Part IIIn Part I of this article, we examined lawn and its place in California’s landscape.  And for a variety of reasons, it is clear the ubiquitous use of lawn in California is inappropriate (perhaps borderline irresponsible) because of a host of negative environmental impacts.    But does this mean there is no place for lawns in our landscape?  Absolutely not!

It is vital homeowners and landscape professionals closely examine the rationale for maintaining or installing a new area of lawn.   The following list is a series of helpful questions to ask when considering the environmental and financial appropriateness of lawn in your landscape.  After answering these questions, jot down a list of the pros and cons.  Often times, decisions to tough questions can be more easily answered when scrutinized on paper.

Do I enjoy maintaining my lawn?

For many, the act of tending a lawn is rather tedious, time-consuming, and incredibly repetitive.  Would you rather be doing something else on your weekends? Read the rest of this entry »

Does Rainwater Harvesting Make “Cents” in Dry California?

February 25th, 2011  |  Published in Landscape Sustainability, Water Conservation

Each winter, California’s weather patterns shift.  Stagnant, high pressure systems that bring heat and dry are dislodged by powerful low pressure fronts.  This change brings cool weather and welcomed precipitation.

The window in which the precipitation falls is generally very short:  beginning in November and extending through March.  During this time, our native and ornamental landscapes soak up and use as much water is available to them.  The rest is rapidly evacuated through our urban and rural storm water management system, picking up impurities on its way to the nearby creek, river, lake, or ocean.

The rest of the year when natural rainfall isn’t enough to rain harvesting 001 Does Rainwater Harvesting Make Cents in Dry California?sustain our landscapes, we import water from points beyond while expending enormous amounts of resources doing so.  The cost of that water running out of our hoses and faucets is heavily subsidized by local and state agencies.  Seemingly unattached to the cost per gallon of water are all the direct and indirect costs that no one has yet been able to quantify.  How can one really put a price on environmental costs such as habitat degradation and salinization?

From a hypothetical viewpoint, harvesting and storing rainwater makes perfect sense.  Save what you get for free (rain) and use it when you need it (warm months).  But a common first question one asks about rainwater harvesting is “What is my return on investment?”  However, what they should really ask is “What are all of the benefits of harvesting rainwater?”.   Read the rest of this entry »

Simple Rain Storage Techniques

February 25th, 2011  |  Published in Landscape Sustainability, Water Conservation

California rejoices with rain.  Much of our agriculture, development, and industry rely heavily on the snowpack, reservoir levels, and winter precipitation totals.  A “good” year for California is a wet one.

So it is rather ironic when the rain does come to our cities and towns, we treat the water like an unwanted guest and remove it from our sight as quickly as possible.  We direct it to drains and gutters and don’t know or wonder where it goes from there.

But as the water is directed elsewhere, it brings all of the surface pollutants and trash with it on a journey through the watershed, contaminating aquatic habitats and ruining natural spaces along the way.

los angeles river Simple Rain Storage Techniques

The mighy LA "river".

Read the rest of this entry »

Smart Irrigation Controller FAQs

January 1st, 2011  |  Published in Water Conservation

With an ever increasing demand for efficient landscaping practices, the irrigation industry is beginning to roll out smart irrigation controllers intended for the homeowner.  These controllers, when used to their full capabilities and in conjunction with other water saving techniques, have the ability to save measurable amounts of water to make our landscapes more sustainable.

irrigation controller Smart Irrigation Controller FAQs Read the rest of this entry »

Study of Lawn in Our Gardens: Part I

February 5th, 2010  |  Published in Landscape Sustainability, Water Conservation

lawn 003 Study of Lawn in Our Gardens:  Part I

How did lawns, indiscriminate guzzlers of precious resources, become such a welcomed and customary feature to our arid, western landscape?  Although many books and no fewer articles have thoroughly and justly documented the rapid rise and firm reign the lawn culture holds root in America, far fewer have provided creative and compelling reasons for homeowners and designers to question the installation and continued maintenance of lawn. Read the rest of this entry »

Mediterranean Garden Society’s: Making a Dry Garden

April 20th, 2009  |  Published in Water Conservation

article 002 Mediterranean Garden Societys: Making a Dry Garden

What is a dry garden?

A dry garden is one that receives little or no irrigation, using plants that are adapted to the dry summers characteristic of regions with a mediterranean climate.

Why make a dry garden?

Because water is a precious natural resource which is likely to become scarcer (and more expensive) as changes in the climate bring even hotter and drier summers to some parts of the world.  And of course because dry gardens are in keeping with the mediterranean environment and looks good throughout the year. Read the rest of this entry »