Category Archives: Gardening

Big Springs Valencia Hill Median Make Over Before

Our second Green Team Median Make Over is underway. Thanks to the quick work made

of the demolition by City Public Works crew David Perkins, Alex Ayer and Mike Bolin (operating the back hoe). A cheerful bunch who thought we had a great idea in transforming a patch of asphalt in the midst of more asphalt, into a drought tolerant, community sourced, urban green space. Check it out.

Planting Party Up Next

The Planting Party is set for Saturday, August 22 at 4 p.m. Wear gloves. Bring a shovel.

The weather will be great. GTV will be there. See you there.
Big Springs Rd Valencia Hill Dr Median Make Over Before



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Utilities Offer Green To Residents Willing To Get Rid Of Grass

A new shade of green is sweeping through Southern California as a Growing number of Southern California homeowners are tearing out lawns – and seeing savings.


 Drought Tolerant Home Landscape


21 million  Square feet of turf removed through the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s rebate program, which began in 2008.

28,350  Acre-feet of water saved through the MWDSC turf-removal program.

56,700  Single-family homes that can live on the saved water for a year.

$13.8 million  The amount of rebates paid to MWDSC residents through the turf-removal program.

Source: Metropolitan Water District of Southern California

Drought Tolerant Home LandscapeBeckie Brown hated wasting water to keep the grass green and despised paying a gardener to mow and blow.

Today, she sees nothing but native shrubs in her yard – courtesy of water district rebates.

“It just was ridiculous to me that the norm is for people to have green lawns when we live in a desert,” she said.

Brown is part of a growing number of homeowners across Southern California who are tearing out grass to battle one of the worst dry spells in history – and seeing savings.

Water agencies are offering rebates to customers who remove their lawns and install drought-tolerant plants or artificial turf. In May, the wholesaler Metropolitan Water District doubled its turf removal rebate to $2 per square foot for its 26 member agencies, which deliver water to nearly 19 million people in Southern California.

“We just had people coming out of the woodwork,” said Tim Barr, water use efficiency manager for the Western Municipal Water District in Riverside, which buys water from Metropolitan.

RELATED: Highland resident writes the book on lawn-free landscaping

In July alone, Western fielded rebate requests for almost 200,000 square feet of turf removed in its district and other incentive programs it manages for the Jurupa Community Services District and Elsinore Valley and Rancho California water districts, he said.

Since March, requests to Western have totaled 500,000 square feet. That will save about 25 million gallons of water per year, enough to meet the indoor water demand for 300 families of four for a year, Barr said.

Highland resident Molly Bogh ripped out all the grass from her 10,000-square-foot lot in 2008, long before turf rebates became popular. Bogh said she saw the move as a way to protect a precious resource.

Drought Tolerant Home Landscape“Our own yards, that’s one place where we as individual citizens can make a difference,” said Bogh, author of “Life After Lawns: 8 Steps From Grass to a Waterwise Garden.”

Even more homeowners are expected to convert as turf rebates grow.

On Wednesday, Western’s board is expected to approve Barr’s proposal to boost commercial turf removal rebates from $2 to $5 per square foot. The district is going after an estimated 100,000 square feet of grass in city medians and common areas of apartments and homeowners associations.

“Those are areas where there’s high visibility, high water use and little pedestrian traffic. People don’t play in the street median, so the only time it’s visited is to mow it,” he said. “We want a call to action and we want it now.”

Barr said he doesn’t know of any other districts with such a high rebate for commercial landscapes. The money comes from the “efficiency penalty” paid for excessive water use under the district’s tiered rate system.


Drought Tolerant LandscapeDrought-tolerant landscaping had gradually gained popularity in the past few years, but the demand has skyrocketed since Gov. Jerry Brown declared a drought emergency in January, water officials said.

In an average year, Inland Southern California gets 10 to 12 inches of rain, but in the last few years it’s been about half that. To stay green, lawns need more than 48 inches of water a year, Barr said.

Some Southern California water agencies offer additional incentives on top of Metropolitan’s $2-per-square-foot rebate. For example, Los Angeles residents get $3 per square foot. In September, Western’s board will also consider kicking in an extra dollar to take its rebate to $3.

Drought Tolerant Landscape“All the phone calls I’m getting now are from people who want to take out their lawns – almost 100 percent,” said Francesca Corra, president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers’ Greater Los Angeles Chapter and owner of a Los Angeles landscape design business.

The rebates may not be enough to cover the labor, equipment and plant costs for the makeover – about $7 to $13 per square foot – but residents enjoy lasting savings on their water bills, said Nathan Adams, water efficiency administrator for the Santa Margarita Water District.

Drought-tolerant landscaping consumes about 40 percent less water in coastal communities and 50 percent less inland. Water providers have begun targeting outdoor irrigation because it makes up more than half of residential use.

In Mira Loma, Anheuser-Busch replaced 250,000 square feet of turf at its can production plant with rock, mulch and native plants, and added drip irrigation and weather-based irrigation controllers. In addition to saving more than 15 million gallons of water per year, the company scored a $250,000 rebate, plant manager Randy Burch said.


Drought Tolerant Home LandscapeDrought-tolerant landscaping has other benefits over grass turf.

Landscape designers say drought-tolerant plants attract wildlife and give a distinct look that stands out among green lawns.

Mike Evans, owner of Tree of Life Nursery in San Juan Capistrano, said people have a misconception that drought-tolerant plants will make their gardens look dry, mostly because of what they see on the local hills.

“They have to be shown that, choosing the right plants and taking care of them properly, the garden will look beautiful year-round,” Evans said.


A new Los Angeles company is offering free turf removal and drought-tolerant landscaping in exchange for rights to all available rebates.

Drought Tolerant LandscapeTurf Terminators has received more than 1,000 inquiries since May, said Andrew Farrell, head of business development. The key is to take on as many projects as possible, Farrell said, so that the company can buy bulk materials at discounted prices.

A company crew removes turf, covers the ground with either mulch or decorative rocks and installs prepackaged styles of California-friendly plants and drip irrigation.

“We did pick the right time to enter the market,” Farrell said.

Contact the writer: or 951-368-9586

Twilight Tours In The Botanic Gardens

Dear Friends,

Join us for a cool evening stroll!
Tours begin at 7:00 PM and will last until around 8:30 PM, followed by dessert/refreshments on the patio.

We will be hosting two Twilight Tours this summer:

July 25th
August 15th

Tours begin at 7:00 PM and will last until around 8:30 PM, followed by dessert/refreshments on the patio.

A follow-up message will be sent with additional details and RSVP information.

If you have never been in the Botanic Gardens come nightfall, you are encouraged to attend this event. It is unbelievably serene and mysterious in the evening, and always a relief from the heat of the day.  The tours are led by our docents.

As always, we hope to see you there!

~Your Friends at the UCR Botanic Gardens

Primavera In The Gardens Tickets Still Available

It isn’t too late to purchase tickets to our next fundraiser event, Primavera in the Gardens, Food & Wine Tasting.

The event is this SundayMay 18th from 2 – 5 PM.   We have some incredible restaurants, wineries and musical groups attending and it should be a beautiful day in the Gardens.

Please come out and support the Gardens!

Additional information and online ticket purchases can be made from our web page

As always, we hope to see you there!


Your Friends at the UCR Botanic Gardens



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A Parklet

Ugly parking places transformed into delightful dining spots. Or outdoor art galleries. Or herb gardens that scent the air as you head into a restaurant.

The idea of transforming dingy parking spots and other unused curbside spaces into visually enticing mini parks is a movement gaining traction across the U.S.

Now Redlands is getting on board.

The city is launching a Parklet Pilot Project that will lead to the creation of least one small sidewalk or curbside park by Sept. 19, the ninth annual international Park(ing) Day.

Ryan Berk, 29, who owns two downtown businesses, one of which has a small park/herb garden next to it, and is leading the way on the parklets idea, said they will set Redlands apart from other well-known historic downtowns in Southern California.

“This is something that Claremont doesn’t have, that Old Town Orange doesn’t have … that will make us unique,” he told the City Council on Tuesday, March 4.

He envisions a collaboration of artists, architects and business owners creating visually interesting and unique spaces downtown.

Patty Hart, manager of the Olive Avenue Market, envisions the market having one of the first parklet in the street out front. The business already has obtained city permission to use the parkway in front of the business for tables and chairs, but would like to expand into an Olive Avenue parking spot.

“We think that we’re in the perfect location for a pilot project,” Hart said.

Councilman Jon Harrison presented the concept, which he said would be a year-long effort to create several parklets without spending a lot of money or using much city staff time. Four people have volunteered to serve on an organizing committee, he said.

Several other businesses have expressed interest in creating parklets – Martha Green’s Eatery on Citrus Avenue, Gerrard’s Market on Center Street, Augie’s Coffee Roasters on Fifth Street and Rok N Fondue on State Street.

The parklets would not all be in the street, Harrison said. On State Street, for example, where parking is at a premium, they could be created in areas where the sidewalk bows out for a tree well, he said.

The idea originated in San Francisco in 2005, when Rebar, an art and design studio in the city, paid for two hours of parking in a space along a downtown street. They rolled out a length of sod, plopped down a bench and a boxed tree and created a temporary park in a city more focused on vehicles than urban open space, the Park(ing) Day website states.

A photo of the park was shared across the internet and the idea caught on. The next year, 47 parks were created in 13 cities in three countries across two continents, the website states. By 2011, Park(ing) Day had become an annual September event. That year, there were 975 parks in 162 cities in 35 countries across six continents, the website states.

Riverside has held several Park(ing) Day events, when landscaping businesses, architects and even the city’s parks and recreation department have created parks for a day along Mission Inn Avenue. But none has remained in place longer than a day.

Redlands Councilman Bob Gardner said he saw parklets while visiting Grand Junction, Colo.

“As you drive through the Main Street area there are these things that catch your eye … and break up what frankly would be a kind of boring downtown,” Gardner said.

Downtown visitors shouldn’t be worried about the loss of parking spots, he said, because it would be good for most of them to walk a little farther to their destinations.

“In the long run we need to get people out of their cars and encourage habits that don’t depend on using the car for everything we do,” Gardner said.

Mayor Pete Aguilar pointed out that the city’s redesign of Ed Hales Park at Fifth and State streets was intended to provide opportunities for restaurants to use the space, and that State Street Deli, across the street, already offers sidewalk dining.

“So we do some of this already, we just don’t call it that officially,” Aguilar said.

Harrison said he hopes the architecturally designed parklets will be more successful than a mobile park the city created a couple of years ago by turning a shipping container into a planter with seating.

“In certain situations that may be ideal, but we haven’t found the right spot for that one yet, he said.

The goal is to launch the year-long pilot project on Sept. 19. Between now and then, a committee of four volunteers will meet with city staff to develop guidelines and regulations, and talk with business people to find out how receptive they are and what concerns they have.

Harrison said the trend toward creating small, useable outdoor spaces is exciting for communities that want to see “downtowns being the living rooms of cities again.”

Contact Jan Sears at 951-368-9477 or


Redlands is joining a long list of cities that are creating small parks to make commercial areas more inviting.

WHAT: Small, attractively designed areas in a parking space or along a sidewalk that offer seating, landscaping, bicycle parking and may incorporate art.

WHERE: Five businesses have expressed interest in creating a parklet.

OBSERVATION: Park(ing) Day is observed internationally on the third Friday in September.


Grow Riverside Community Events

Kick Off at 8.a.m.

Volunteers for trash pick up and weeding sign in and pick up your tools.

We’ve got a mega load of mulch arriving courtesy of Tim at Burrtec Industries.  We’re going to apply it where needed. Nice to see some of what we send them coming back to our gardens.

UNA University Neighborhood News January 18, 2014
You Should Know . . .
Grow Riverside Is Underway.

We have set up a promo code for our loyal readers to receive an additional 20% off the ticket price. Use promo code: GrowRiversideFriend when registering at

Wildlife Is Part of The Neighborhood

(01/10/14) at about 3:30pm, a possible mountain lion or bobcat sighting occurred in the field to the rear of the UCR Materials Science & Engineering Building.  UCPD responded and was unable to locate the animal. According to the California Department of Fish & Wildlife, mountain lions are typically quiet, solitary and usually avoid people.

UNA Working Group Digging Deeper Into Best Practices
Neighbors, City Staff, Students began in depth inquiry. Source material below.

26 in 26:  A Neighbor Designed Neighborhood Plan
Introduction at February UNA Meeting.
What Do You Love About the Neighborhood?
Community Garden Council
There are many exciting initiatives related to gardening on the horizon (one being the GrowRiverside Conference – details below). We look forward to gathering to hear about what is happening with each of the respective gardens/sustainability groups each of you are involved with.

Our monthly meeting was suppose to be happening this upcoming Monday, but it was decided at the last garden council meeting to reschedule since several people are involved in activities to honor Dr. King this Monday. One  of those activities being the 3rd Annual MLK Jr. Day of Service being hosted by Arlanza Community Garden (for more details, please visit:

WHEN:  Monday, February 17 at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: RCC Alumni House located at 3564 Ramona Drive, Riverside 92506
In addition to the typical round table sharing out, FEATURED SPEAKERS at our next meeting will be Harmony Wolf with the Tequesquite Community Garden and Fortino Morales with the UCR Community Garden. They will be discussing their thoughts regarding the possibility of creating a garden coordinator role through Americorps.  Your input will be greatly appreciated.
Please let me know if you would like to be added to the agenda or if you have an event happening before our next meeting that you would like to share with the group.
Jessie Fuller
6:30p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
3431 Mt Vernon Rd
Riverside, CA 92507
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How Trees Can Boost a Home’s Sale Price

In a study, homes with “street trees,” those planted between the sidewalk and street, sold for $7,130 more, on average, than homes without street trees.

BySanette Tanaka connect

Oct. 10, 2013 6:33 p.m. ET

Maybe money grows on trees after all.

In an analysis of 2,608 real-estate transactions over 10 months, researchers found that homes with “street trees,” those planted between the sidewalk and street, sold for $7,130 more, on average, than homes without street trees.

What’s more, homes with street trees sold 1.7 days more quickly than homes without street trees, says Geoffrey Donovan, an economist at the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, Ore. Neighbors can reap the benefits as well. Homeowners who live within 100 feet of street trees enjoy a sale premium of $1,688, on average, even though the trees aren’t on their property.

Taken all together, street trees resulted in an extra $19,958 in neighborhood house sales, Mr. Donovan says.

Mr. Donovan and economist David Butry of the National Institute of Standards and Technology analyzed 2,608 single-family home sales in Portland between July 1, 2006, and April 26, 2007. Their team visited the houses in summer 2007 and recorded the number and characteristics of street trees that fronted each property. The study controlled for property characteristics like location and house condition. The researchers then remotely calculated the crown area of trees and the percentage of tree cover on each lot. The study, “Trees in the city: Valuing street trees in Portland, Ore.,” was published in Landscape and Urban Planning in February 2010.

The advantages of trees go well beyond mere aesthetics, Mr. Donovan says. “There’s increasing evidence that there are huge public health consequences of living in a city. Not everyone can live next to Central Park. Trees are a way of modifying this urban environment.” Other research conducted by Mr. Donovan shows that street trees are associated with cleaner air, lower energy use and lower crime.

Michael Vargas, a New York City-based appraiser, says trees are generally a premium in urban environments. In New York City, “most of the prime streets that are tree-lined get a 10% to 15% premium in value over similar streets with less tree architecture,” he says. “It’s a way to make it seem like you’re not in the city.”

But before branching out at home, know the downsides. “Tree ownership, just like owning a property, has costs involved and responsibilities involved,” says Craig Filipacchi, associate broker with Brown Harris Stevens in New York City. “Vehicles spreading salt can kill the tree; trucks can bump into them and damage the bark; trees can get infected. When it’s on your property, it’s definitely something you have to take care of.”

More Green? Less Mean