Loving Our Earth

I’m spending  Earth Day getting my hands dirty.  I started yesterday, since there is always a lot to do this time of year. After dispatching every last weed in the garden, I got busy staking the tomatoes I didn’t plant and harvesting the potatoes from the compost pile. I didn’t plant the potatoes either.

So far it’s been an interesting spring in the garden. We’ve stopped watering pretty much everything. This is year four of the California drought, prompting Governor Brown to issue mandatory, 25% state-wide water restrictions.  Later this week I’m meeting with a landscape designer to draw up alternative plans to replace our lawn.

In this semi-arid state, we have no business planting lawns in the first place. It’s an old tradition, imported from the lush gardens of England and Europe where water is plentiful. Somehow it became a status symbol and then the status quo. Those days are over.

I’ve been contemplating several ideas but I seem to lack the overall vision of what a replacement will look like. It will be nice to meet with J.P. who designed our beautiful front ramp and deck  in 2010 and the circular patio out back.

2010 Landcape Plan front yard

J.P. Bergez, Landscape Design

2010 front garden design bergez

Completed Landscape, 2010

Two years ago we removed the grassy sidewalk strip and replaced it with a flower garden. The sidewalk garden uses less water while attracting beneficial insects. I think it’s much prettier, too. We should have done it years ago.

Sidewalk strip before and after

Sidewalk strip before and after

Yesterday I gathered all of my stored seeds including my much-loved sunflowers and planted them in the curb garden. There they will grow or perish. They’ll have to get by with the water available to that narrow strip.

Late last year Garden Sunshine blogged about her sheet mulching project and I knew immediately that I wanted to do the same thing.  I drew a mental line down the center of the lawn in our back garden, then sheet mulched half of it. The area is still composting, but I achieved the desired effect: that section of the lawn is gone. Slowly, gradually, our water-thirsty suburban grass is going away.

I’ll let you know how the consult goes.

Here are my goals:

  • Reduce the amount of water needed to maintain the garden by half. Since 50% of residential water use goes to irrigation, cutting that use in half means we’ll achieve a 25% reduction overall.
  • Create a small seating area for my swing under the shade of the orange tree. We used to have the swing under the tree, but it rested on the lawn. We had to remember to move it every two or three days, or deal with a soggy swing. No grass, no problem.  My future, summer afternoon napping place is secure.
  • Share the process and what I learn along the way with others via my blog, Facebook, Twitter and email.

Please let me know if you take the Earth Day quiz, below. I only scored five out of ten but was happy to know I beat the average score of four.

24 thoughts on “Loving Our Earth

  1. Good for you, Alys! Really impressed with how you’ve honored Earth day. I took the Guardian quiz and scored 6, but I must admit I guessed on most of them (just got lucky). I do love your posts, even though I’m terrible at taking the time to comment! Also impressed with your blog lesson implementation. My website is getting a complete overhaul — once it’s launched I hope to follow some of your examples!! 🙂

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    • Congratulations on your website overhaul. That is always exciting. I’m glad you’ve been reading along. I know how much extra time it takes to comment, and appreciate your words when you can share them.

      I’m pretty excited about the new garden possibilities. Stay tuned.

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  2. What possibilities you have! Good for you for taking action. Some succulents attract pollinators and have beautiful flowers as well. Maybe you can add some of them. I’m thinking of some ice plant for garden fence lines between the sidewalk. Let us know what you decide on.

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    • Thank you for your enthusiasm, Lisa. There are many beautiful natives to plant, along with succulents that will also do well in the summer and survive the cooler winter. I have a friend who gardens almost exclusively with succulents. She’s a pro. Unfortunately she lost many of them two years ago when we had a freakish, early November frost. That sort of thing is unheard of here in San Jose.

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  3. What an exciting project you have underway! There is something wonderful about rising to meet any situation willingly and with forethought and appreciation for our good Earth! I’m sure your new form of gardening will bring many interesting adventures your way and you will be an inspiration for those looking to follow on! I like your curb garden much better than the lawn strip!

    I saw something on facebook the other day about Nestle still trucking out mega gallons of water from California apparently to sell as bottled water – but I never know if anything on fb is an actual fact or just another myth! Do you know anything about this?

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  4. Good luck with all those measures… planning change can actually be quite fun too! I did fairly well on the quiz, but it was pure guesswork. Made me realize how little it is reported about these days here. It seems our government is resting on its haunches a bit regarding climate and energy reforms.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think change is good and for the better, but governments in all countries move slowly. It’s also mind-blowing to me the way elected politicians can continue to deny climate change. The science is there. I’m excited about the changes ahead, and though I remember how disruptive it can be having the yard dug up along with the crew of workers in and out, but in the end it will be new and improved, water saving and beautiful. I’m ready!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I realized how little I knew about the people involved in the original movement. It was eye opening for me.

      I had a water audit done by the city last year and they do offer a number of rebates and incentives for replacing your lawn. Pretty cool, eh? They offer other incentives as well for replacing old toilets which use a ton of water. Some of the originals used 12 gallons a flush. Ours use a fraction of that. Indoors we’re in great shape. We have low flush toilets, low flow faucets, and of course when here they checked for leaks. That lawn has to go. I’ve been ready for awhile, but my husband has been reluctant to do so. It represents lovely memories of our young boys, now teenagers, playing in the grass. We live two blocks from a park, so plenty of running around space when needed.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, LB! my hope is that as we all become more and more aware of the consequences of our behavior, that little by little we can make a collective difference. I wish everyone could be as involved as you are in there community. Grass roots is where it starts. I applaud you.

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  5. Omgosh, I’ve been lost in the Web-o-sphere reading story after story of the drought. Have you seen these startling photo’s of Lake Oroville and the Enterprise Bridge over the lake just 3 summers ago?

    http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/california-drought/california-drought-crisis-takes-toll-lake-oroville-n185001

    I’m so very worried for you hon. Not to mention all the poor critters that rely on the river for their very existence. What will it come too? Am I crazy or are some people just not taking it all really seriously. When they say critical, that is an understatement. What could that do to property prices in the end? I’m too scared think about it. I’m going to do the quiz, I’ll let you know.

    On the bright side, bravo for having a concrete plan of action Alys. I hope everyone else has your gumption for sacrifice. Time will tell xoxox

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    • Marlene, I learned about sheet mulching from another blogger, Garden Sunshine. You layer soil, then cardboard, then leaf waste or mulch over the lawn. I ran out of soil so skipped that step half way through and it made no difference at all. I now have rich, brown soil with lots of worms just below the surface. They worked hard all winter.

      Since we had such a dry winter, I occasionally hosed it down to keep it decaying, but in Diane’s case, they had snow covering it all winter. With the rain you get in the fall and spring, you should be good to go. It’s kind of fun, actually.

      Liked by 1 person

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