Monday, December 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Brave new gardening for brave new climates

Gardening-Going Sustainable

This photo taken on May 13, 2014 shows dwarf crested irises in the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, New York, that are cultivars of native species. They use less water and fertilizers and are more resistant to challenging weather than traditional green lawns. As many parts of the country struggle with drought, heavy downpours and rising water bills, the move toward sustainable gardening is picking up steam, experts say. (AP Photo/Katherine Roth)

By
From page HSR2 | July 19, 2014 |

Ripping out the front lawn and its bordering rhododendrons and replacing them with a landscape of native grasses, groundcovers, succulents and rocks once seemed an unfathomable act of defiance. No longer.

As many parts of the United States grapple with drought and rising water bills, “The thought of an English garden in the Central Valley of California is sheer madness. It wasn’t meant to be, and it’s sucking up precious groundwater we need for agriculture,” said Ann Savageau, a design professor at the University of California at Davis, who recently traded in her lush green lawns for a desert look.

Instead of scoffing, neighbors stopped to ask her landscaper for his business card. Other California towns, including Sacramento and Menlo Park, have begun offering rebates to homeowners who remove their lawns.

Gardeners nationwide are feeling the effects of climate change. In the East, and other areas where heavy downpours have become more intense, a sustainable garden might include native grasses and other plants that do well in heavy rain and the dry weather that can follow.

“Awareness is changing in a way that is here to stay,” said Brian Sullivan, a vice president for landscapes at The New York Botanical Garden. “Yard by yard, region by region, the overall environmental impact of this trend, which I think is very positive, is substantial.”

Mowing and watering a traditional lawn requires a lot of time, money, water and fertilizers. Increasingly, many home gardeners want to focus instead on edible gardens, and rethink the rest of their landscaping in a more environmentally sustainable and low-maintenance way.

It’s sometimes hard to know where to begin, however, and few people have the funds or time to tackle a total garden makeover all at once.

Some strategies:

Take it in steps

“Transitions should be made at your own pace and you do these things in small steps,” Sullivan said. “Lawn has utility. We play on it, sing on it and look at it. You can still enjoy your lawn, but cut it down by a third or half, or go with groundcovers you can walk on. They’re not the same, but it’s about shifting expectations.”

Susan Middlefield, horticulture editor for the Vermont-based National Gardening Association, said “less lawn means you’re putting less carbon into the atmosphere. Lawns are fertilizer hogs, and a lot of fertilizer also contributes to oxygen depletion in local waterways.”

Savageau retained a small circle of lush lawn about 12 feet across for her grandson to play on. It’s surrounded by agave and desert grasses.

Consider your site

When taking your yard in a new direction, experts say, the first step is to know your site. Do you have a slope? Is it shady or sunny?

Plants on the top of an incline will be drier and plants at the bottom will be wetter. But when the water dries up, the plants at the bottom need to be fine when it’s dry, too.

Talk with local experts

Many arboretums, botanical gardens, native plant societies and local extension services offer brochures, online help, and classes on suitable plants and landscapes for various climates and regions. Many also maintain native plant gardens to inspire home gardeners, and some communities offer incentives to homeowners making the shift toward more sustainable yards.

Melanie Sifton, vice president of horticulture and facilities at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, in New York City, suggests that homeowners start with Landscapeforlife.org, an interdisciplinary effort toward sustainable gardens led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden.

Consider a rain garden

Rain gardens are “a great idea for any part of the country. . . . You take out a small area of lawn and make a depression into which you direct the rainwater coming off your roof. Instead of rainwater running down the driveway and overwhelming sewers, it goes into an area planted with occasionally heavy downpours in mind,” explained Middlefield.

In Vermont, she said, rain gardens often include summersweet, inkberry, shrubby dogwoods and purple coneflower.

“When there’s a big thunderstorm, you know all that water will be going somewhere useful,” she said.

The Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s new rain gardens, planted with varieties of blue star, switch grass and black gum trees, have been successful and provide stunning fall color, Sifton said.

Where lawns are viable, think sustainable

“In areas with sufficient water, I’m not anti-lawn,” Sifton said. “Just be aware of water use, use organic fertilizers and aerate the soil a lot.”

Sustainable lawn varieties being used successfully in New York City include tall fescues mixed with Kentucky bluegrass, she said.

Compost

“Composting yard waste and putting out a bucket for rainwater are huge in their environmental impact, and are both very easy ways to start gardening more sustainably,” Sifton added.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Christmas comes early to San Marco Street park

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Travis squadron delivers Christmas gifts to East Tabor

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Multiple car accident blocks I-80 in Vacaville

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
 
 
Last-minute shopping at Vacaville Premium Outlets

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4, 1 Comment | Gallery

Kitchen fire dislocates family for Christmas

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Famous Creations’ toy drive and cupcake sale

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

Fairfield police log: Dec. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Dec. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Weather for Dec. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

Killer of 2 NYC officers had long criminal history

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

 
Killings of 2 New York officers trigger backlash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 6 Comments

California puzzles over safety of driverless cars

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Timeline of events before and after NY cop deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

A look at the 2 NYC officers killed in ambush

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Exit poll: Ex-regime official is Tunisia’s new president

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Pakistan makes arrests in Taliban school carnage

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Tent city sprouts in shadow of downtown Detroit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

US mulls putting NKorea on terrorism sponsor list

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Satanic Temple puts up display at Michigan Capitol

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 3 Comments

Australian woman charged with murder of 8 children

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Opinion

Faust and the 2015 federal budget

By Mike Kirchubel | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

 
Obama, surgeon general still losing to NRA

By Francis Wilkinson | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Let the music begin

By Colleen Britton | From Page: A8

 
Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Dec. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Dec. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Dec. 23, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Horoscopes: Dec. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
‘Hobbit’ goes out on top with $90.6 million 5-day debut

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Good news from Tom Brokaw: His cancer is in remission

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Review: ‘The Interview’ deserves to be seen

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B7

Happy day: Elton John, David Furnish marry in England

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
TVGrid Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

Steelers, Packers win, move into playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Raiders knock Bills out of playoffs with 26-24 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Kings snap 5-game losing skid, beat Lakers 108-101

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Burns gives Sharks late-night win over Blues in OT

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

The Week Ahead: Not much of a break for Christmas

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
Super-G crash makes Vonn wait in bid for record

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

NFL Roundup: Cowboys end 4-year drought, make playoffs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
7 hurt when lightning strikes near Tampa Bay game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

India’s Arjun Atwal wins Dubai Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Documents: FSU QB Winston cleared in conduct hearing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

Survey: US gas prices fall 25 cents per gallon

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
US companies eager to embrace Cuba face hurdles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

Marian Kay Zutz

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Bart Ferro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

B.C. Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Blondie Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Bridge Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Cryptoquote Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Sudoku Dec 23

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Blondie Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Beetle Bailey Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Garfield Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

B.C. Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baby Blues Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baldo Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Zits Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Sally Forth Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Bridge Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Crossword Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Sudoku Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote Dec 22

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7