July 2015

Welcome to this month’s edition. It’s already July and in another month school will be starting; it does go by fast. The summer’s heat sure makes you appreciate the cooler days of fall.  Likewise, the plants appreciate getting out of the hot plastic cans and being planted into the cooler ground. Within two weeks of planting I see positive changes with the plants as the root temperatures cool and the plant is better able to acclimate to the heat.

 

This month we are adding a third picture to the Kurapia’s development.  Now going on 2 1/2 months from our first install the growth is super impressive with virtually no bare ground! Also this month we have videoed the featured yard so that I could better interact with you.  (Scan or key in the URL Code). I will repeat some key points, using both the video and the article to emphasis them.

Let’s start with what I have learned about Kurapia. As a grower of plants the first thing that interests me is the strength of any new variety that comes to market. Most of the time I can tell just by looking at it; however since Kurapia is purchased in plugs it is hard to get a read on it. Although, on this job a “negative” happened, which actually turned out to be a learning experience.  The crew accidently over fertilized the landscape and several of the plants burned, including the Kurapia. A number of the plugs burned and some died, so I thought. It has now been one month since the incident and about 75 percent of what was burned or believed dead have come back to life and are growing. From this experience I have learned that Kurapia is one tough plant!  The information I have from the grower states that it is able to handle the higher salts in reclaimed or recycled water. Now I know that truth for myself for we exceeded the salt content in reclaimed or recycled water by a high percentage and the majority of the plugs came back.

 

Next thought: good landscapes are more than just pretty plants, boulders and dry stream beds. They also are trying to solve problems. Whether it be with grade or elevation, unused areas becoming purposeful, or in our current case with water becoming more restrictive, saving water. Aside from Kurapia as a lawn alternative with its water saving abilities, another useful action is to collect the water coming from the downspouts.  Our roofs have a huge footprint and they capture much rainfall. What if we collected all that water and returned it back to the ground? It can be done via a dry creek bed with perforated drain lines, or a leach line running along the back of the yard or front if it makes more sense. This way we are able to help recharge our ground water and though one yard won’t make a difference, if we all did this it would. Therefore, if a dry stream bed is in the design it now has a second function. Since March we have done this with the exception of one yard. We landscaped a backyard where the home was at the bottom of the hill, meaning that everybody else’s water that did not make it into the drains made into their backyard. Since it was the backyard that faced the hill, that meant that the ground water had to pass under the foundation of the home, I did not want to satiate the ground any more.

 

Though I am very pleased with collecting water and returning it back to the ground, there is one step better. What if we collected our water and returned it into an underground cistern and the overflow into the ground? Prior to this moment, we valued our lawns too much to have them torn up. Now, however, that is what we are doing. We are removing the lawns and putting in semi-drought tolerant landscapes. What a perfect time to consider adding an underground cistern to collect the rain water.

Let me give you an idea of how much can be collected in a single rain.  If one storm yielded an inch of rain on a 1,700 square foot roof that equals 1,060 gallons of water (it takes .6234 gallons to cover one square foot an inch deep). If a 2,500 square foot roof received one inch of rain, it would yield 1,556 gallons of water. That’s a lot of water. If we got two inches of rain, that equates to 2,120 gallons on a 1,700 square foot roof and 3,112 gallons of water on a 2,500 square foot roof. That’s even more impressive. If that was collected in underground cisterns that water could be used to irrigate our yards.  Cisterns are as old as Bible times.  They are mentioned in the scriptures as something of great value, (Proverbs 5:15 for those of you that are interested) so the concept is nothing new. Most pools hold between 16,000 to 18,000 gallons of water, so we are talking about a cistern about the size of a large spa (one cubic ft. holds 7.5 gallons of water).  And if businesses did this, especially those with large roof footprints, using either the lawn areas or the space under the parking lots, the parking lots and lawns would serve two purposes. What the regulations are for something like this and or the permits required, I currently do not know, but if rain does not return to a more normal pattern, permits and regulations will have to be enacted. Serious food for thought.

 

Gardeners – you may need to do some thinning or pruning between the veggies to encourage air circulation and make it easier to see the harvest. Continue to apply the organic fertilizer (per instructions) and lightly rinse the leaves free of dust. Do it early enough to not send them to bed wet, mildew can start. Until next time – Good Gardening.