Fierce winds toppled our 36” diameter, 100-year-old, double-trunked live oak last week. The massive tree grazed smaller live oaks as it fell, crushed 3 Prunus ilicifolia ssp lyonii, stripped the leaves off 5 Plumbago auriculata ‘Imperial Blue,’ and shredded 6 Agave ovatifolia ‘Frosty Blue.’ Where nature’s Rip-Van-Winkle-esque miracle had graced our outdoor living area, a… Read More When a tree falls…
Two years ago when rationing was first threatened, the prospect of our water use being slashed in half came as a shock. Experienced local professionals had recently redone all our landscaping with drip irrigation and drought-tolerant plants, so our improvement options seemed limited and our investments at risk. Incredulously, our local water district was one… Read More Six stages of adaptation
The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that landscape irrigation accounts for almost one-third of all residential water use, with families in dry climates such as the Southwest using twice that of their counterparts. Irrigating our lawns and gardens consumes nearly 9 billion gallons/day, of which an astonishing 50% is wasted due to inefficiency: The… Read More Water, water, where are you?
Garden guides, both online and printed, specify plant height, width, exposure, and water needs. Some even list soil conditions or vary water needs by specific geography. What is missing, though, is water per square foot, the single-most revealing sustainable gardening metric. While water use of an individual plant matters to overall consumption, my analysis these… Read More Gauge plants by water/sq. ft.
If you don’t know how to read the meter, learn. Or have someone else do it for you. A water meter is just like a bathroom scale, car speedometer, or checking account. The information displayed changes bad behavior, validates changes, and reinforces progress. Flawed habits and assumptions are exposed, replaced by facts. Wanting landscaping well-suited… Read More Read the meter and reap
Every gardener knows that plants sometimes struggle. You try to coax them back to health. If they die, you generally replace them with the same variety, especially if mates are in the same bed. A drought upends that “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” mentality. Some plants in some places are simply… Read More Pack it in when plants die
Early 2014’s rationing to less than half our prior consumption was a turning point. Overnight I went from blissfully unaware of how we used water to resolutely committed to sustainable landscaping. Wanting a sound basis for tough decisions, I recalled life cycle assessment (LCA), a systematic evaluation of product stages from cradle to grave. I… Read More Follow the water