Category Archives: Gardening

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    http://gardens.ucr.edu/events/primavera.html

As always, we hope to see you there!

Cheers,

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 jsears@pe.com

PARKLET PROJECT

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.

MORE INFORMATION: parkingday.org

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 http://growriverside.eventbrite.com

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: https://www.facebook.com/events/735272693157495/)
NEXT MEETING: 

WHEN:  Monday, February 17 at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: RCC Alumni House located at 3564 Ramona Drive, Riverside 92506
NEXT MONTH’S AGENDA
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.
Sincerely,
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

Thoughts On Code Enforcement And Your Property

From Letitia Pepper

I hereby request that the following item be put on the City Council Agenda:

Do $1,000 a Day Fines, Resulting in $100,000 Liens on Properties in Foreclosure,
Actually Promote the Public Peace, Safety and Welfare?
Wouldn’t Abating Code Violations. and then Liening Properties
for the Costs of Abatement, Make More Sense,
Given the Alleged Purpose/Goals of Code Enforcement?

Dear Council Members and Mayor:
Why is the City fining properties in foreclosure $1,000 a day?  How does this promote the public safety, peace or welfare?

People who can’t make their house payments obviously can’t afford $1,000 a day, and they probably can’t afford to undertake, and no longer care to undertake, the actions needed to abate a problem.

So these liens end up becoming the problem of a mortage holder, and the eyesore remain, making the surrounding area look worse and worse.  So, if a property owner fails to abate a code enforcement violation, why isn’t the City directing code enforcement, with the assistance of appropriate city employees or outside contractors, to abate these problems, and then liening the property for the cost of abatement instead of repetitively fining and liening for the fines?

There’s a house across the street and down one house from my home, which has been foreclosed upon.  I know the City was citing it for code violations, at $1,000 a day, for such violations as the lack of appropriate front landscaping.

yard with free mulchI also know that one can get wood chips (for $7 a yard) or mulch (for free) at the Agua Mansa Transfer Station, and, of course, the City is actively encouraging people to replace lawns with landscaping that uses no or low water.

So, could the City please actually abate the nuisance of no front landscaping at this house, and others, by at least neatly covering the front yard with free mulch?

I don’t understand how the City can fine someone $1,000 a day, up to $100,000, for the effort involved in merely going out and posting violation notices on a foreclosed property and then sitting back and doing nothing — knowing that most mortgage holders aren’t paying attention to these properties.

It seems to me that there should be some actual public “service” involved for putting liens of $1,000/day and up to $100,000 total, especially when the specific situation (a property in foreclosure) is one which is unlikely to be abated by the owner as a result of simply increasing fines.  In such cases, it would make more sense for the City to abate the nuisance itself, and lien the property for the cost of abatement.

This actual abatement of this kind of basic, neighborhood-damaging code violations also makes a lot of sense in terms of the underlying purpose of code enforcement: the protection of the public’s peace, health and safety.  Properties with deteriorated exteriors attract crime, so when it comes to foreclosed, no longer owner-occupied properties in possession of banks, it would seem that abatement, not just citations, is the answer.

As we’ve seen in past housing recessions, the banks aren’t paying any attention to these places. In fact, does Code Enforcement even send the violation notices, or copies of them, to the senior lien holders?
Needless to say, the cost of actual abatements would be recoverable upon sale of the foreclosed property.

I think this issue is an important one that should be put on the Council’s agenda for discussion.  I understand that there are thousands of city properties that are currently in foreclosure, and being cited in this way.

I’d also like to know (1) into what fund any lien fines are placed, (2) what happens to those fines, and (3) what the City does with any properties it acquires, even temporarily, as a result of such liens.

 

 

See also:  IN-DEPTH: Eminent domain plan for mortgages gains traction in California

Richmond’s eminent domain mortgage plan faces a new concern

Paris Hires Sheep To Mow City Lawns

Four French ewes have ditched their country pads for the bright lights of Paris. If the city government likes their work, it may not be long until tourists see other eco-friendly animal lawnmowers at the Eiffel Tower.

sheep mowing pairs city lawns

PARIS — Will tourists soon see flocks of baaing sheep at the Eiffel Tower and bleating ewes by Notre Dame cathedral?

That could be the case, since Paris City Hall this week installed a small flock of sheep to mow the lawn at the city’s gardens, replacing gas-guzzling lawnmowers.

The media came out in full force to greet the four ovine landscapers.

CHARLES PLATIAU/Reuters

The media came out in full force to greet the four ovine landscapers.

Four woolly ewes — shipped in from an island off the Brittany coast — are currently munching the grass surrounding Paris Archives building. The number of sites doing that could expand from October in and around Paris.

The goal of the experiment is for sheep to graze at intervals until autumn on the parcel of land and to maintain it without weed-killers.

CHARLES PLATIAU/Reuters

The goal of the experiment is for sheep to graze at intervals until autumn on the parcel of land and to maintain it without weed-killers.

The ovine-operation follows a successful stint last year by two goats that were hired privately by the Louvre to mow the lawn at Tuileries, central Paris’ grand 17th-century gardens.

Motorless and independent, the four-legged workers contentedly munch day and night — oblivious of the France’s strict 35-hour work week.

A similar experiment in a Paris suburb found that sheep droppings attracted small insects, which in turn helped bring back the swallow population.

CHARLES PLATIAU/Reuters

A similar experiment in a Paris suburb found that sheep droppings attracted small insects, which in turn helped bring back the swallow population.

A similar experiment in a park outside Paris even found that sheep droppings were a benefit, bringing swallows back to the area.

The sheep are part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment in the 19th district in Paris.

CHARLES PLATIAU/Reuters

The sheep are part of an ‘eco-grazing’ experiment in the 19th district in Paris.

“It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director. “And they’re so cute.”

Paris City Hall, meanwhile, has big ambitions for its sheep. “I can imagine this very easily in London and New York … even Tokyo,” said Fabienne Giboudeaux, Paris City Hall’s director of Green Spaces. “And why not have them at the Eiffel Tower?”

The Ouessant sheep hail from an island off the Brittany coast.

CHARLES PLATIAU/Reuters

The Ouessant sheep hail from an island off the Brittany coast.

The City Hall initiative was inspired by a handful of private French companies that have been hiring sheep and goat lawnmowers for quite some time.

Sylvain Girard, owner of

Francois Mori/AP

Sylvain Girard, owner of “Ecomouton” inspects a tiny worker. Ecomouton has 260 sheep working landscaping gigs for major French companies.

Alain Divo is the director of one such company, Ecoterra, whose goats worked at the Tuileries last summer. He said having animal lawnmowers is great for biodiversity.

“We installed some at the Parc des Sceaux (a famous park outside Paris), where the swallow population had completely disappeared. Because the droppings attract small insects, the swallows all came back in two years,” he said.

“It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director.

CHARLES PLATIAU/Reuters

“It might sound funny, but animal lawnmowers are ecological as no gasoline is required, and cost half the price of a machine,” said Marcel Collet, Paris farm director.

Parisians who cringe at the sight of poop may worry that sheep droppings could ruin their pristine City of Light. But Divo said goat and sheep poop crumbles away in days to an odorless, inoffensive powder that serves as potent fertilizer for the grass.

Another company known as Ecomouton, (Ecosheep in English), currently has 260 sheep working the premises of top companies such as Gaz de France. Ecomouton plans to expand that number to more than 600 sheep by the end of 2013.

Its director, Sylvain Girard, said he’s surprised by the initiative’s success, with interest coming in from countries such as the Britain, Germany, Belgium and Russia.

He’s said the idea came to him by chance.

“I have a company myself with lawn, and I was always running about after the guy who was meant to mow the lawn. One day I just thought: ‘What if I just put in sheep?'” said Girard. “It was a bit of a wacky idea, but it worked.”

A Free, Pick-Your-Own Orchard Takes Root in Los Angeles

Before Seattle developed plans for its one-of-a-kind food forest, before Guerilla Grafters took their pruning knives to the flowering trees on the sidewalks of San Francisco, there was Fallen Fruit.

The Los Angeles-based artist collective has been exploring the interrelationship of public space, urban planning and food through various fruit-related performances, installations and actions since 2004. And now, members David Burns, Matias Viegener, and Austin Young are bringing California’s first-ever publicly funded community orchard to Los Angeles County.

Twenty-seven trees have been planted in Del Aire park, which sits in an unincorporated area of L.A.’s South Bay, each chosen to be “fruitful and abundant” in the particular climate that exists west of Interstate 405 (it’s more than a cultural divider, apparently). Burns tells TakePark that they tended predominately toward “things that you don’t typically buy,” like persimmons and pomegranates.

Lemons, limes, various hybrid stone fruit, and a few different types of figs are also among the trees included in the orchard. The group plans to provide fruit pickers and maps of the trees, but beyond that general guidance, Burns says that as far as Fallen Fruit is concerned, the fate of the orchard in in the community’s hands.

Fallen Fruit was initially born as a cartography project: The group charted the publicly accessible fruit trees in various neighborhoods around Los Angeles, distributing the maps online. The artwork helped residents interact with their communities, showing people that they could turn to local resources like the Meyer lemon tree that’s branches reach over an alley rather than a taking a trip to the grocery store. This on-going mapping effort, which has since expanded across Los Angeles and around globe (curious to know where all of the guanábana trees are in Cali, Colombia? There’s a map for that), was followed by fruit-tree adoption events, community jam-making parties, and eventually public orchards like the one at Del Aire.

When there are plans to rehab a public park, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission is often involved with bringing artworks to the space. When considering a new vision for Del Aire in 2008, the Commission’s Project Manager for the park, Letitia Fernandez, tells TakePart that the Victory Garden installations by Amy Franceschini and Futurefarmers, done in collaboration with the city of San Francisco, inspired the Commission to pursue a food-related artwork. “I pulled together a list of artist that were working at the intersection of food and art and put out a call to those folks to apply for what was essentially a year long residency,” Fernandez says of the Commission’s initial outreach. “The idea was to do civic engagement activities to gauge the interest in the community of having some kind of public gardening project in the area,” with the hope of following those one-off events with a permanent installation of some sort.

Fallen Fruit was on that list, and the group’s idea for a public orchard beat out the other food-art proposals, earning the trio $40,000, funded by the Public Percent for Art program, to bring the plan to fuition. As means of introducting themselves and the idea to the neighborhood, Fallen Fruit brought their signature tree-adoption and public-fruit jam events to Del Aire—engagements that both pulled in the community and expanded the boundaries of the orchard beyond its 27-tree heart. The area residents who walked off with one or more of the 50-some adopted saplings were asked to plant them in publicly accessible areas, and the trees will be included in Fallen Fruit’s map of the orchard.

While chance brought Fallen Fruit to this specific park, the symbolism that’s wrapped up in the location is such that I can’t think of a more appropriate place. An office building owned by the aerospace giant Northrop Grumman and the Los Angeles Air Fore Base are just blocks away, signs of the military-industrial- and manufacturing-driven economy the South Bay has depended on (along with oil refining) since World War II.  But prior to the war, the surrounding area was integral to the County’s agriculture-based economy. So while a publicly owned orchard is a new model for growing food in Los Angeles, it also represents a return to a lost, largely forgotten history.

More recently, Jerry Brown’s Governor-Moonbeam-era signing of the Direct Marketing Act, which allowed farmers to sell directly to consumers, led to the first Southern California farmers’ market to open in nearby Gardena in 1979. The success of the market, which still takes place every Saturday, helped popularize the then-novel idea of buying produce directly from growers.

Could planting public parks with communal fruit trees be as commonplace as farmers’ markets in thirty years? Only time will tell, of course, but Burns tells TakePart that Fallen Fruit has received a number of inquires from other cities interested in bringing the public-orchard concept to their own parks—New York City among them.

The intention of the orchard is not only to help feed a neighborhood, but to draw the surrounding communities together, and as Fernandez sees it, the creation of the park was infused with that attitude on the administrative level too. “I think that that’s what’s at the core of this work, and that trickled into the approval process,” she tells TakePart. “From the beginning we had the spirit of breaking new ground, of being open and flexible, of experimentation. And I think that’s a really beautiful thing for a government agency.”

The two years of planning and development the Del Aire orchard required didn’t just involve the Arts Commission, but the office of County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas (the supervisor’s deputy, Karly Katona, in particular), the Parks and Recreation Department and other agencies too. The fact that the project managed to navigate L.A. County’s rather notorious bureaucracy, happily bringing together disparate departments, has made other city planners optimistic about making a Del Aire-like park fly elsewhere.

The orchard, which will have its official grand opening in the New Year, doesn’t resemble an urban Eden just yet. Unlike popular backyard plants like salad greens or tomatoes, tree-fruit crops require a bit more patience in the beginning, but with decades-long lifespans, the wait pays off in the long run. “We do imagine that in the first few years it won’t be perceived as being abundant,” Burns says regarding the initial harvests. “But I can tell you that after this project is out of memory, the trees will be abundant and people will forget. And that’s part of the goal: to have the trees remain and the trapping of the project disappear.”

Related Stories on TakePart

Community Garden Revives Neighborhood, Creates Food for Elderly

Fruit Trees Feed Girls’ Survival in India

Urban Fowl: Community Garden Chickens Laying Lead-Filled Eggs


Willy Blackmore is the food editor at TakePart. He has also written about food, art, and agriculture for such publications as Los Angeles Magazine, The Awl, GOODLA Weekly, The New Inquiry, and BlackBook. Email Willy | TakePart.com

Capturing Water On Site Before It Becomes Urban Runoff

Rain gardens capture water before it becomes urban runoff

The shallow depressions are surrounded by dirt berms and planted with climate-appropriate flowering plants. More than 185 of the gardens have been installed in northeast San Fernando Valley yards.

December 15, 2012|By Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times
  • Alice Abler has added several ornamental features to her rain garden, including a watering tray where mourning doves come to drink.
Alice Abler has added several ornamental features to her rain garden, including… (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles…)

Watching water stream under parked cars and through the gutters every time it rained made Alice Abler cringe.

“What a terrible waste,” Abler recalled thinking, pondering all the pollutants being swept down drains and into waterways.

Her chance to act came with a new program that provides homeowners with free rain gardens installed in their yards. These shallow depressions surrounded by dirt berms and planted with climate-appropriate flowering plants are designed to hold rainwater from rooftops and paved surfaces and keep it from flowing to streets.

The program allows homeowners to become environmental stewards, said Marcus Castain, founder and chief executive of Generation Water, an L.A.-based nonprofit organization that seeks new ways to reduce water usage.

Most rainwater travels over concrete and asphalt and picks up vehicle fluids, trash and other contaminants, which are then carried through sewers to the ocean. The untreated water, called urban runoff, is considered the biggest source of pollution in California’s rivers and the ocean, officials of Generation Water said.

Environmentalists say the first inch of rain carries almost all the polluted runoff. A rain garden captures the water and allows it to be filtered into the soil rather than entering storm drains. And there are other benefits:

“A lot of people think it looks beautiful,” Castain said. “It’s going to reduce your water bill … and it takes less effort to maintain than turf.”

Generation Water worked with the environmental nonprofit group TreePeople and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power to launch the rain gardens pilot program in October. So far, more than 185 rain gardens have been installed in yards in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

This area was selected because its soil is silky sand, providing “good infiltration potential,” said Eric Yoshida, a civil engineering associate with the DWP.

Provided that a homeowner has a large enough roof and yard and an adequate gutter system, a rain garden can be installed by cutting out a portion of turf and surrounding it with a dirt ridge. The hollow is planted with flowering plants, such as hot lips sage, then covered with mulch and pebbles. Existing irrigation is capped off.

Yoshida estimated that up to 1.85 million gallons of storm water would be captured by the installation of 310 rain gardens, and is eager for more homeowners to get them.

“It’s changing the thinking of the typical homeowner,” Yoshida said, getting them to “think about water as a precious resource.”

While eligible properties are fitted with rain gardens for free, homeowners can also install their own and be reimbursed up to $500 per garden.

“When we see people do it themselves, we see them get more invested,” Yoshida said

This was the case with Abler, a resident of Shadow Hills, who expanded her rain garden and even created a blog about it.

On a recent morning Abler stood in her yard and showed off the triangular garden in front of her three-stall barn. She has added a moat made from a salvaged wooden gate and several ornamental features, including a white stone duck and a watering tray where mourning doves come to drink.

Blue-eyed grass and California rushes were among the dozen plants that came with the water agency’s installation. Abler complemented them with a variety of succulents, such as aloes and agave, artfully placing them around the man-made swale.

“This is just a tiny thing that one person can do in his or her backyard,” Abler said. “It’s part of being a responsible human being on this planet.”

ann.simmons@latimes.com

University Neighborhood Green Team Median Make Over Video

A neighbor’s idea inspired by last year’s neighborhood Earth Day Celebration,  a few phone calls,  some creative collaboration and  three hours of fun, transformed a neglected and ignored  place, into a neighborhood show space.

This is just a tiny example of the kind of results we can create in our communities. It was even easier and more fun than it looks.  Check Out The Video.  Thanks again to all our collaborators, it wouldn’t have been as easy or as much fun without you.