All plants will burn. Some burn faster and hotter than others. Those that contain oil, sap, or resin ignite easily, burn intensely, and and make a fire worse. Those that contain water are fire-resistant, do not significantly contribute to the fuel, and can even slow advancing flames. Our garden’s rosemary swaths and neighboring plants epitomize… Read More Plants: Play it risky or safe?
Gravel, stone, and other hardscape don’t need water, which is a blessing in summer-dry gardens. They don’t need refreshing, which is a blessing for maintenance. And, as we found in the recent Thomas Fire, they don’t burn, which is a blessing in a fire. In a 2015 rationing-driven makeover, we replaced 42′ x 140′ of… Read More Hardscape: count its blessings
Our Thomas Fire experience revealed that water-smart and fire-smart are 2 peas in a pod. These past few years we implemented recommendations distilled from expert sources on how to protect your home from wildfire. But that was all in the abstract. Reality struck at daybreak on December 16, 2017 when what firefighters called a ‘fire… Read More Fire lessons learned
Fifty shades of gray – that was what I saw through my tears as I snapped photos of my gardens after the Thomas Fire. By comparison, photos I took the day before we evacuated were a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and textures, just like the ‘Latest Photos’ sidebar. Our 5-year transformation to water wise and… Read More 50 shades of gray after fire
The rule of thumb is ‘Water during growing season.’ Plants grow in spring and summer as temperatures heat up, and any supplemental water occurs then, right? It is not that simple for dry-climate plants. Some are warm-season growers that push out new growth in spring through fall and go dormant in winter. Others are cool-season… Read More Water when?
When it comes to water needs, all plants are not alike. After years of tinkering, I learned to regulate flow to each individual plant with 2 indispensable levers. One – tailoring emitters – customizes plants within a zone. The other, described here, customizes irrigation times and frequencies across zones. Both breakthroughs occurred as my confidence… Read More Customize time & frequency
Q: What do you get when you convert lawn to waterwise plants? A: Dramatic cuts in consumption and maintenance coupled with surprisingly better aesthetics and functionality. This revelation proved true in long-term studies such as the City of Santa Monica’s garden\garden. And it proved true in our 4 projects chronicled in earlier Grass Be Gone… Read More Grass be gone #5
One of my many learnings these past 3 years is that a camera is an invaluable sustainability tool. Its two-dimensional photos are truth-tellers even more than the naked eye. Whether produced via smartphone or sophisticated camera, whether striking or just so-so, they show attributes with great clarity that we otherwise miss, downplay, or ignore. Consider… Read More Snap and see
Not all low-water plants are created equal. Some are low water, some are very low, and some are almost none. While many grasses, groundcovers, shrubs, and trees are classified as low, succulents are in the sweet spot of very low to almost none. A striking case study is revealed in the 3 stages of our… Read More Get hooked on succulents
It rained 12” here the past 3 weeks. That’s more in 3 weeks than we had each year since this drought’s onset in 2011, and 2/3 of historical annual averages! Even after all that rain and upstream reservoirs spilling, Lake Cachuma (our primary water source) is only 13% full, the lowest of all state reservoirs.… Read More Rains, reservoirs, drought