» 2017 » February

From a Weedy Turf to a Dream Garden

From a weedy turf to a dream garden: beforenafter Against a full wall of Camilla trees, Lucy (not her real name)’s lawn used to be green and lush.  With the drought, however, parts of the turf just went bare, with the remaining thin and weedy.  Then rains – lots of them- came, the turf just turned into this big bed of wild weeds.  Lucy had been wanting to replace it with a much nicer “dream garden”, but with her really busy schedule, she did not even have the time to think about it. Graden - Before Graden - Before After Lucy heard about the Santa Clara Landscape Conversion Rebate Program, especially the way her project will be done, i.e., all the paper work will be handled, the project will cover the entire process of design and installation, the only time she needed to be involved was the design of the garden – she happily got on board.

Landscape Conversion Program Application

To apply for the Rebate Program, a pre-inspection was scheduled.  At the end of pre-inspection, the application forms were provided.  For the application, the filled forms, along with the design of the garden were to be submitted. Rebate Program Pre-Inspection

Designing the Garden

This will be a water efficient garden, meeting all the requirements of the Rebate program, i.e., using only native or drought tolerant plants, using drip irrigation, applying mulch, etc. The next consideration was the look.  There was a wall of the camellias at the back of the front yard; in addition, two small fruit trees in the middle. The camellias were in their full blossom, sporting bright pink and red colors, against thick green leaves. It was a beautiful view.  A good design should add to the view, not take away from it. At the time of plant selection, when Lucy spotted a picture of a lavender, she cried “that is it!” A path with lavender on both sides, with its strong scent – that was something of a dream for her.  Very luckily, lavender is one of those low water-use plants that qualify for the rebate. Now she could have her dream realized! The application was submitted with the garden design.  After a week or so, the Notice to Proceed was received.  The project could kick off now.

Installing the Garden

The weeds and turf were removed, plants purchased and placed.  For mulch, it was bark chips, which came in different colors.  The mulch can effectively prevent evaporation and keep the soil moist longer.  When the chips decompose, it can add to the organic matters of the soil, improving the its quality and water holding capacity, which in turn will save more water.  Lucy chose the black color, which turned out to be a great choice. Installing a Water Efficient Garden

A Dream Garden Came True

Beautiful Water Efficient Garden The clean design and black surface from mulch make the Camilla’ colors really “pop” out.  The light step stones surrounding the two small trees in front not only provide something very functional, but accentuate the trees and add liveliness to the garden. These plants dot the garden space with colors and textures, without distracting from the main view of Camilla.  They are all drought tolerant and qualify for the Rebate program. Water Efficient Garden Water Efficient Garden While the garden already looks nice, there is more to look forward to. When the lavenders grow up and fully bloom, walking in the middle will be like walking through a purple corridor with that wonderful lavender scent.  Now that is something to wait for! Dream Garden with Lavender  

Trees – Great Managers of Stormwater

Rains and storms have been sweeping California for the last couple of months, making 2017 a big wet year.  While this is so great,  relieving the state’s historic, 5-year drought, and lifting half of the state out of drought, now we face another issue opposite the drought: stormwater runoff, and in some places, flood and mudslide.  Due to mudslide, some free ways in North Cal have to be closed. Stormwater Flood How can we better manage stormwater and reduce the hazard? One of the key answers lies in something we see all the time – trees.

Trees Reduce Runoff by Drawing a Large Amount of Stormwater

For their critical function of photosynthesis and other functions, trees need a lot of water.  They take water from soil, finish the processes,  and evaporate it into air.  Each tree is like a sponge that absorbs away a large amount of rainwater that sinks in soil. In addition,  the branches and leaves of trees, like arms and hands, can catch and absorb a big amount of raindrops falling from sky, reducing that falling on ground. As trees draw away so much rain water, they reduce runoff. Trees Draw Water

Trees Reduce Soil Erosion By Slowing Down Rainwater

The canopies of trees can slow down raindrops falling through them significantly, reduce the force they hit the ground; On the ground, trees block and slow the current of stormwater, reducing its force to carry soil; underground, the roots of trees bind soil tightly so they are not as easily washed away. All together, tress lessen the impact of rainfall for soil, effectively reduce erosion and mudslide. Trees Reduce Erosion by Stormwater

Trees Improve Quality of Soil and Increase Storage Capacity for Water

The root systems of trees break up the soil, create space for air and water, support the growth of living organisms and worms; the fallen leaves, and the waste of animals live in the trees further add to the organic matters deposited onto the soil.  Together they improve the quality of soil, and its capacity to hold water. According to USDA, “Each 1 percent increase in soil organic matter helps soil hold 20,000 gallons more water per acre.”   When the heavy rains come, healthy soil helped created by trees can absorb much more water than barren soil, reduce runoff and its hazard. Trees Increase Water Holding Capacity

Trees Transform Pollutants Into Less Harmful Substances

From the long course that stormwater flows over, especially in cities, it usually carry a certain amount of pollutants, such as metals, chemicals, etc.  When trees draw water from soil for its photosynthesis and other functions, they also draw pollutants with it.  After the processes, these pollutants are transformed into less harmful substances, and delivered to all parts of trees.  Trees are natural purifiers that filter out the harmful substances, making water and environment for us cleaner and safer. Trees Transform Pollutants in Stormwater

Include Trees In Water Efficient Gardens

Trees have always been an important part of water efficient gardens. In dry times, along with native and drought tolerant plants, trees can beautify the landscape, cool down the area, reduce demand for water, improve soil quality and enhance overall capability of water conservation. In rainy season, as trees are such great stormwater managers, they can help the community reduce runoff and loss of soil. Quite a few popular trees, i.e., Crape Myrtle, Fig, Avocado, Pomegranate, etc, which qualify for Santa Clara Water District’s Landscape Conversion Rebates, are good choices to be included in a water efficient garden.  With such a tree in your garden, not only will you enjoy its shade and fruits, but also that great feeling that they are strong helpers in rainy season as well as dry. Trees In a Water efficient Garden