In 3 months we converted our lawn into an award-winning, colorful, California- Friendly Garden!
A California-Friendly garden (also known as a Water-Friendly or Water-Wise Garden) is beautiful, bio-diverse, and filled with colorful water-friendly, drought-resistant plants. It is not only beautiful but it cleans the air and water, reduces waste and emissions, conserves water and power, provides an attractive habitat for wildlife, increases your property value, can be edible and pet friendly, and can serve as a gardening resource for your community.
In this time of severe drought, it is a responsible way to conserve our natural resources while having a beautiful garden at the same time! We hope that the information provided in this
website is helpful in getting you exctied about creating your own water-friendly garden.
Our previous landscape was all lawn (see photo below). There was no diversity of foliage and the soil was hard clay. When irrigating a significant amount of water would runoff into the gutter due to poor drainage (lawns are not good at absorbing water). Flooding during heavy rains was also a problem. The runoff contained fertilizers and pesticides which drained right into the Pacific ocean!
Since we did not know where to begin, we hired a landscape architect, Guy Stivers (who specializes in water-friendly gardens), to design a new landscape including the irrigation and drainage systems. The installation was completed in just 3 months and converted our yard into a water-friendly, beautiful garden paradise (see photo below taken 3 years later in 2012). The landscape is now biodiverse and attracts a variety of wildlife including birds, bees and butterflies. We now utilize organic fertilizers and pest-control managment. The previous clay dirt is now a living soil filled with beneficial bacteria and insects. As the yard continues to mature, the soil is becoming more enriched as the organic nutrients naturally decompose. This in turn, provides healthy, organic nutrients to the plants and trees which allows them to grow healthy and resistant to pests.
Our garden was the Grand Prize winnter in the 2010 Roger's Gardens California Friendly Gardent contest and we were the division winner for Best Water Efficiency. We were featured in the Sunset Magazine blog, Frish Dirt, on August 2, 2010, the August issue of Coast Magazine, and in the April/May/June 2011 issue of Pacific Horticulture magazine. We received a Water-Wise Recognition Award from the City of Huntington Beach during the Green Expo in September, 2011. We became a Certified Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation in June 2013.
To reduce runoff and maximize water efficiency, our new landscape utilizes drip irrigation. The irrigation is run by an Irritrol Rain Dial controller with an attached rain sensor that automatically turns off the irrigation for 24 hours when it senses rain. Mulch (1 to 2 inches) and worm
castings are regularly applied throughout the yard. These help retain the water, keeps down the weeds and enriches the soil as it naturally decomposes.
Water capture is accomplished by diverting rain runoff from the roof and landscape into a functioning water capture system disguised as a dry river rock bed (see photos below). Beneath this area is buried three 60-gallon CUDO cubes. These capture the water and then slowly release it to re-irrigate the soil and percolate down into the aquifer below. This is an important contribution to the underground water basin for providing fresh water to the community and preventing seawater intrusion barrier.
The photo below on the left shows the 3 CUDO cubes wrapped in landscape cloth with cobble stone around them to facilitate drainage. The picture on the right shows the finished yard, with Colorado River Rock installed on top of the buried CUDO cubes.
We avoid using chemical pesticides preferring beneficial organic products, nematodes (worms!), ladybugs, and other "good" insects and microbes to control pests above and below the soil. Our maintenance contractor, David Kern (Landscape Architect License #NV450) uses organic fertilizers. Mulch, blood meal and worm castings are applied regularly throughout the year. This builds up the microorganisms within the soil. They in turn break down organic materials into nutrients for the plants.
We, as a society, need to rethink how we are utilizing our natural resources, especially water. We need to stop being inconsiderate consumers and become responsible citizens. Just because water flows so readily out of our faucets does not mean that there is an unlimited supply.