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Lawn Gone and Loving It!

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How I replaced my lawn with truly California Native plants to save water and create a habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies. I also include a discussion on maintenance.

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Lawn Gone and Loving It!

  1. 1. Lawn Gone and Loving It! One Homeowner’s Guide to Lawn Replacement Kathy Sturdevant
  2. 2. Outline • Background • What is Native? • Goal • Process • Some Costs • Plant Sources • Maintenance • Lessons Learned • References • Other Garden Styles
  3. 3. Background • Math, computer science • Basic gardening experience • Girl Scouts: backpacking, camping, hiking • Inspired by Theodore Payne Foundation’s annual garden tour • Previously unaware of the disconnect between nature and what we plant in our gardens
  4. 4. What is Native? Drought Tolerant versus Native • Def native: grew here prior to European contact • Drought Tolerant • Mediterranean • Australia • California • E.g. Rosemary, Rockrose, Lavender, … Native Mediterranean
  5. 5. Motivation • Ecology • Habitat • Use Less Water • Did not try to save money – Although…Santa Monica experimental gardens show that native gardens save money on water and maintenance
  6. 6. Goal Create an English cottage style garden using California Native Plants
  7. 7. Before
  8. 8. Landscaping Steps • Budget • Design • Prep work (e.g. paint house, sewer line, permits, removals) • Kill/Remove Lawn • Perform Grading • Install Hardscape • Install irrigation • Plant • Pre-emergent weed killer • Mulch • Water, water, water
  9. 9. Pre-Design Considerations • Existing plants • Soil drainage test • Shade analysis • How you will use the space? • Any problem areas? • Constraints • Neighbors • Views
  10. 10. The Reality • Budget? What’s that? • Kill lawn THEN take design class • Get stuck on plant selection for 6 months – Diversity of information on plant sizes • Hire designer Greg Rubin to rescue me • Replaced front porch midway
  11. 11. My Design Process • Locate trees • Evergreen foundation • Vibrant green next to the house • Gray green plants as accents • Plant in groupings • Some specimen plants • Pathways (mail carrier) • Inconspicuous deciduous plants • Low plants in the front, taller toward the back and left side • Simple parkway (dog traffic, city eugenia trees)
  12. 12. The Design
  13. 13. Sewer Line
  14. 14. Lawn Removal Smother or Spray Glyphosate now available in generic form
  15. 15. Grading
  16. 16. Install Hardscape
  17. 17. Irrigation
  18. 18. Irrigation Hunter MP Rotators with 12” Popups Emulate rainfall
  19. 19. Completing the Stream Dry stream designed as swale to allow water from gutters to absorb into water table
  20. 20. Everything But the Mulch
  21. 21. Planting • Plant ½ - 1” high; water drains off root crown • Basin to hold water • 3-4” shredded redwood mulch • Lots of water first day • Big rocks (optional)
  22. 22. Where did I get plants? • Theodore Payne Foundation • Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden • Las Pilitas Nursery, Escondido (Closing) • Las Pilitas Nursery, Santa Margarita (mail order) • Tarweed Nursery, Glendale • CNPS Annual Plant Sale • Native plant friend • Larner’s Seeds (mail order)
  23. 23. Cost Estimates • Mow Strip – $700 • Flagstone Patio 10 x 12 ft – $2800 • Irrigation $3-5K – $1300 - $1800 per valve circuit • Dry Stream – $75-125 per linear foot • Plants – Avg. $9 per 1 gallon
  24. 24. Installation Complete March 2010 Western sycamore was 5 gal, rest of plants 6” to 1 gallon pots
  25. 25. 1 Year Later 2011
  26. 26. Installation and 1 Year 2010 – Installation 2011 – 1 year Western sycamore was 5 gal, rest of plants 6” to 1 gallon pots
  27. 27. 2 Years Later 2012
  28. 28. Installation and 2 Years • Planting Day 2010 • 2012
  29. 29. Compare: 1 & 2 Years 2011 – 1 year 2012 – 2 years
  30. 30. 3 Years Later 2013
  31. 31. Today – 6 years 2016
  32. 32. Before and After
  33. 33. Patio Feature Dry stream is functional– directs water from downspouts into water table
  34. 34. Side of House Note the downspout directed into the stream
  35. 35. Desert Willow Chilopsis Linearis “Timeless Beauty” 2010 – 5 gallon 2016
  36. 36. “Espalier”
  37. 37. Espalier Comparison Consider growth rate when designing– this Ken Taylor flannel bush grows more slowly than this ceanothus
  38. 38. Sunset Manzanita Hedge If you want a more traditional look to your garden, choose plants that will tolerate hedge trimming, for example.
  39. 39. Certified Habitat National Wildlife Federation • Provide Food • Supply Water • Create Cover • Place to Raise Young • New… • Sustainable Habitat
  40. 40. Bird Bath with ¼” copper drip Repurposed fountain
  41. 41. Several Garden Visitors
  42. 42. Maintenance: Water • Water once every 10 days, non-rainy season – Goal: ¼” precipitation, penetrate mulch • Avoid soaking soil during heat waves – Water before and/or after – Water with cloud cover – Light mist on leaves at end of scorch day • Obtained city watering exemption – Demonstrated low water usage – Goal: flexible watering schedule < 1 per week on the day of my choosing Note: replacement plants are hand watered 1-2 x per week until established; trees are deep watered periodically.
  43. 43. Maintenance - Year 1 • Clean birdbath • Weed • Clear leaves from plant basins • Pull back the mulch • Wind damage
  44. 44. Maintenance - Year 2 • Clean birdbath • Weed • Clear leaves from basins • Pull back the mulch • Wind damage • Wildflowers look messy when going to seed • Replace an occasional dead plant • Pick up (mostly neighbor’s) leaves
  45. 45. Maintenance - Year 3 • Clean birdbath • Weed • Clear leaves from plant basins • Pull back the mulch • Messy wildflowers • Replace dead plant(s) • Pick up leaves • Prune to shape plants 
  46. 46. Maintenance - Now • Clean birdbath • Weed • Keep sprinklers clear • Dead head: buckwheat, etc • Replace monkeyflowers • Replace dead plants • Wildflowers look messy when going to seed • Prune each type of plant 1-2 times per year • Thin overcrowded plants • Argentine ant abatement Plan for monthly maintenance– which is less than a traditional landscape
  47. 47. Maintenance: Pruning • Avoid overcrowding to minimize pruning • Sterilize pruners, e.g. 10% alcohol solution • Sterilize between plants • Be especially careful of ceanothus and manzanita • Seal branches thicker than a pencil
  48. 48. Problem Areas Got ants? Argentine ants are farming scale on the roots of this buckwheat.
  49. 49. Ant Abatement Address Ants Before You Plant Boric Acid Desperate Measures Indoxacarb Spot Treatment to save infested plants
  50. 50. Recommendations • Use Native Plant Landscaper • Take the time to design • Design to compliment your home • Don’t work in a bubble – get to know other native gardeners – stay in touch with your native landscape professional (additional cost) • Expect change: grow, thrive, or die • Design with maintenance in mind
  51. 51. Lessons Learned • Mow strip was a great idea • Too many plants • Shorter varieties • Need irrigation modifications (risers) • Argentine ants are evil; start abatement sooner than later
  52. 52. Rebate? • My installation was in 2010, pre-rebate • If you can get a rebate, GREAT! • Before you start, have all your “ducks” in a row, as your time is limited. • Know the rules • Don’t feel bad if no rebate--more flexibility without it, e.g. native grass lawns
  53. 53. References • CNPS – http://cnps.org • TPF – http://theodorepayne.org • Las Pilitas Nursery – http://laspilitas.com • Summary of references – http://kathysturdevant.com
  54. 54. Questions?
  55. 55. See Other Gardens • Look at TPF Garden Tour website photos – theodorepayne.org – nativeplantgardentour.org • CNPS San Diego Garden Tour • CNPS Orange County Garden Tour
  56. 56. Native Grass Lawn Sunland, CA: blue grama, deergrass, Nevin’s barberry Theodore Payne Garden Tour
  57. 57. Contemporary Theodore Payne Garden Tour
  58. 58. Naturalscape for Spanish Home Theodore Payne Garden Tour
  59. 59. http://kathysturdevant.com

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