The Blue Thumb Garden Party was the pinnacle of this year’s exciting Blue Thumb Neighbors Program, sponsored by the Regional Water Authority and Carmichael Water District. My Green Gardener hat is tipped to Christine Kohn, the Program Coordinator, for masterfully organizing this community effort.
Carmichael residents were eager to learn how to have beautiful AND water-efficient landscapes, so they participated in three “in-class” workshops and one “hands-on” Garden Party.
First the workshops — The workshops focused on sustainable, River-Friendly Landscaping, a whole-systems approach to the design, installation, and maintenance of landscapes. Workshop topics included:
- Sustainable Landscape Design – Principles for creating water-efficient gardens, including assessing your site, creating a plan, and grouping plants by water and sun requirements. For more information, visit www.bewatersmart.info and www.riverfriendly.org.
- Efficient Watering – Five Steps to Watering Well, by Don Smith, Water Management Coordinator with the City of Folsom. What are the five steps: Determining how much water to use, evaluating your irrigation system, repairing and adjust the system and controller (timer), being more efficient in the use of water, and getting help when you need it. (Many tips are available right here on the BeWaterSmart website.)
- Right Plant, Right Place – Selecting plants that are appropriate for the Sacramento Region, with a focus on the UC Arboretum All-Stars, by Ellen Zagory, Director of Horticulture, UC Davis Arboretum. (Select plants for your garden at www.arboretum.ucdavis.edu and on this website by using the Water-Wise Gardening for the Gold Country plant data base.)
To start planning for garden party and the transformation of this thirsty, labor-intensive yard to a beautiful, water-efficient one, I met with our Hosts Elayne and Randy Anderson to discuss their goals and concerns: Too many plants for the small planting area, plants were too large when they matured, which required regular pruning and overshadowed the beautiful Crape Myrtles, and a mix of low and moderate water-use plants in the one area. I moved forward by creating a planting plan with the goal to have primarily lowing-growing, low-water use plants, so the mature Crape Myrtle trees could be the focal points of the garden.
Let’s look at the progression of the Garden Party:
- First calling Underground Service Alert (a free service, call 811) to have utilities marked.
- Host Elayne Anderson is a Champion — she moved a LOT OF COBBLE!
- Unearthing existing sprinkler heads
- Selecting irrigation methods and equipment to meet the needs of the plant material and lawn
- Assessing and amending the soil
- Placing and spacing plants so they can grow to their mature size and nature shape
- Replacing existing sprinklers with efficient rotary nozzles
- Installing efficient in-line emitters around plants
- Applying mulch to the proper depth and distance, yet keeping it away from the bases of plants to avoid disease and pest problems
Planning and execution are critical to the health and longevity of our gardens AND successful outcomes do not happen by themselves. Appreciation is extended to all the fabulous supporters, sponsors, and hosts:
- Elayne and Randy Anderson
- Carmichael Residents
- Regional Water Authority
- Carmichael Water District
- Carmichael Creek Neighborhood Association
- Ewing Irrigation
- Hunter Industries
- Vermicrop Organics
- Eric Zemlicka, of Z-Scapes, River-Friendly Landscaping Green Gardener
The photos below show the project’s site preparation. Check the next blog entry for the Part 2 of the project.
Host Elayne Anderson Conquers the Cobble
Old sprinkler ready to be converted
Two layers of landscape fabric (weed cloth) with compacted soil below