June 2015

Welcome to our June edition. Spring has been very busy with its normal high volume of phone calls. However, since May’s article on Kurapia the phone calls have increased all the more. I am very grateful that so many of us are taking water conservation seriously.

 

Before I start with this month’s topic I want to draw your attention to the pictures. The first two are May’s featured landscape. One is of the Kurapia at the time of planting and the other is 6 weeks later. You can see that in this short time it has grown about 7 to 9 inches. That is incredible! This month the yard we are featuring is in principle following the same concept, using the Kurapia as a lawn replacement – a designed “green space.”  The whole yard was lawn (see before picture) so we designed several green spaces with an assortment of semi-drought tolerant, bee friendly (when requested), hummingbird and butterfly attracting plants as  the new design. The biggest difference between this month and last month is the size of the yard. The larger size yard allows us to work with more plant combinations and create more unique transitions.  By doing two yards that are quite different in size my hope is that you are able to envision how your landscape could be. Semi-drought tolerant landscapes can be super attractive, and active with nature’s life.  In a few months I will be able to show you another Kurapia yard. It is a backyard that we are currently working with. Aside from Kurapia as green space and the accompanying sun/shade plant combinations, it also has a recirculating waterfall/spill way feature as well (uses less water than a traditional waterfall).

 

Though I am excited about having Kurapia “on board,” I do not view it as a panacea for all the “water ills.” I view it as an extremely useful contributor among a whole range of semi-drought tolerant plants. The main role I see it contributing to is that of a lawn substitute, erosion control alternative and a huge water saving tool for businesses. It is an especially good choice for large campuses, hospitals, apartments, tech companies or any commercial entity. With Kurapia in place of lawn at these locations, they can be more green while at the same time offer an aesthetic value to its employees as well as be favored in the public eye. Beyond that, I see Kurapia as a pollinator or a supporter of our bee population, which has been in decline (the importance of supporting our bees is equal to saving our water).

 

 

With this month’s project we have designed three green areas. These are purposefully placed in locations where the eye can relax from all the interest of the plants with the stream bed serving as a transition from the landscape.  Also, by placing Kurapia closer to the home we maintain an open view from the house to the yard and beyond.   And, though the dry stream bed is a key feature and adds much interest to the landscape, it too has another function. Fifteen inches below the cobble is a perforated drain line that takes all the rain water coming off the roof and returns it back into the ground. In that way we are recharging our ground water and not allowing it to just go down the gutter. Although this is not advisable in all cases, it’s a good step toward water conservation (I will discuss this more next month).

Though the Kurapia is very small in our picture, it will grow fast as we know. This brings me to an important discussion point. The pricing of the Kurapia (number of plugs needed), has to do with its spacing. Just like sod, it initially goes by square footage, but then unlike sod, the actual number of plugs needed is determined by its spacing and whether the plugs are spaced 12″, 18″ or 24″ apart. The wider the spacing, the fewer the plugs, thereby the costs are reduced, though it will take longer to fill in. In discussing spacing with clients I have broken it down into three categories: For playgrounds, high visibility and high traffic areas I would recommend 12″ spacing, especially if the square footage is minimal. For areas in general, such as backyard “green areas” without consistent traffic I would recommend 18”. Such is the spacing for our featured yard.

Recently I had a gentleman call me from Loomis who has five acres. He does not want it all covered; however, there are areas where he wants to see green as opposed to weeds. He also has concern with erosion. Behind his home he has a slope.  In his case I recommended 18″ for the green areas, but suggested 24″ for the slope contingent upon the steepness of the slope and if the slope could be viewed from the house. If we were in October I would have suggested 12″ just because of our limited season for growth.

Lastly, with summer here clients become concerned about landscaping and the heat. However, consider being a plant in a hot black plastic can.  Wouldn’t the ground be much cooler, especially if we added 1 1/2″ to 2″ inches of bark instead of going through the whole summer in the pot? Of course it would be and it is the same with Kurupia. It is planted underground at the depth of two fingers when measuring from the root ball up – just like a tomato plant. This increases its rooting but it also insulates it from the heat.  And just like the rest of the landscape we cover it over with fine mulch (it grows up through the mulch). There is more to discuss next month with respect to preparation, drainage and future uses with Kurapia.

 

Gardeners, you are now tasting of the fruit of your labor, and so are the caterpillars, aphids and possibly loopers. B.T is really the only chemical we can use. It is a bacteria that penetrates the insects and basically eats them from the inside. Kind of gross, but that’s nature. Use organic fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks to keep the veggies strong and producing.

Until next month – Good Gardening.