Garden Sense

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Garden Features

1

Drought Tolerant

2

Edible Garden

3

California Natives

4

Deer Resistant

5

Drip Irrigation

6

Pesticide Free

7

Rainwater Harvesting System

8

Rain Garden

9

Reclaimed/Recycled Materials

10

Sheet Mulching

11

Lawn Conversion

12

Lawn-Free Landscaping

13

Permeable Surfaces

14

Wildlife Habitat

Partner: Garden Sense

Lawn conversion on a major scale! From wasteful lawn to a model ecological efficiency.

For 20 years our property had a 1/4 acre of irrigated lawn that extended around the entire outside of our home. We live on a hill so water cascaded down the hillside during the rainy season causing ruts and bogs as it passed through our property and into pastures. Parts of the “lawn” were muddy and wet until mid summer.

We wanted to capture some of that water and we really wanted to become more sustainable and ecologically sound. So in 2018 we decided to remove the entire lawn using sheet mulching and a small tractor, to convert the seven irrigation stations to drip systems and to create natural drainage.

Irrigation & Drainage

Walkways

For our walkways we wanted a permeable surface to connect the planting areas that would be easy to maintain and still be able to push a garden cart on. We settled on compacted decomposed granite bordered by Sonoma field stone.

Rain Garden

To address our challenges with excess water coming through our property we dug a “dry creek bed” into the wettest area near the top of our yard. Digging down three feet deep and four to five feet wide in places. We back filled the entire 30′ length with gravel then river rocks. All of our materials and rocks were salvaged over the course of three years.

The basin that was formed at the end of the creek bed is a rain garden. There are layers of compost, rock and loamy garden soil in the basin held in place by a berm of rock and clay built up at the end. The plants in the rain garden can withstand extended periods of soggy conditions in the winter.

Overflow

There is an “overflow” drain built into the berm. If needed, the water will pass into another bed connected by an underground drainage pipe that will allow the water to slowly dispense onto the surface of the next bed.

Choosing Plants

1

Using Reference Lists

We chose plants from those recommended by the Sonoma County Master Gardeners Water Wise Plant guide and those recommended by the WUCOLS plant list. Many are California Natives or suited to our Mediterranean climate, characterized by wet winters and long, dry summers with little rainfall.

2

Pollinators

Flanking the dry creek beds are our pollinator gardens. Buddlea, Gaura, Salvia, Cuphea, Abelia, Abutilon, Lavender, Ceanothus and Digitalis are abuzz from sun up to sundown with bees, hummingbirds and other insects.

3

Edibles

Other areas of the garden include raised vegetable beds, a small fruit orchard of apples, pear and plums.

4

Native Wildflowers

A native wildflower meadow which includes native grasses and wildflowers grown from seed collected by the Theodore Payne Native Plant society graces the slope that leads to the compost heaps.

About the Gardener

Favorite Plants

1

Arctostaphylos spp & cvs

‘Pajaroensis’, ‘Sentinel’, A. uva-ursi ‘Radiant’

2

Ceanothus cvs

‘Skylark’, ‘Julia Phelps’, ‘Dark Star’, ‘Diamond Heights’

3

Physocarpus capitatus

native Ninebark

4

Quercus agrifolia

Coast Live Oak

5

Rhamnus [Frangula] californica

‘Mound San Bruno’, ‘Eve Case’

Recommended Resources