DIG THIS! SLO Landscape Strategies

Barrel-Free Rainwater Harvesting in SLO County

Leonardo da Vinci said, “Water is the driving force of all nature.”

Rainwater harvesting might not be for everyone, but there are still ways to lessen rainwater runoff. We routinely use and recommend Bioswales to remove silt and pollution and slow the water for better ground absorption. A bioswale is the use of mounded earth to create a drainage course, which slows the water’s path and maximizes filtration. Thick layers of mulch and creative uses of earth also can be designed for the water to slowly sink back into the ground. (Ever rough up your nails before you apply that layer of glossy nail polish? Same thing!)

You may be wondering if rainwater harvesting is OK to do in San Luis Obispo County:

“City of San Luis Obispo 2010 Construction and Fire Code Amendments page 25: 1101.2.1 Rainwater Harvesting. Storm water drainage may be directed to an approved rainwater harvesting system and used an al alternate source of water for non-potable uses as approved by the building official and the San Luis Obispo County Environmental Health Department. The installation and use of such a system or systems must be designed to not interact with the potable water system, the building sanitary sewer or drainage systems that flow to any creek. Rainwater harvesting systems must be maintained in such a manner as to not cause damage to neighboring properties.”

 

Rainwater Harvesting Around the World:

· Currently in China and Brazil, rooftop rainwater harvesting is being practiced for providing drinking water, domestic water, water for livestock, water for small irrigation and as a way to replenish ground water levels.

· In Tamil Nadu, India, rainwater harvesting was made compulsory for every building to avoid ground water depletion.

· In Bermuda, the law requires all new construction to include rainwater harvesting adequate for the residents.

· In Senegal, the houses of the Diola-people are frequently equipped with homebrew rainwater harvesters made from local, organic materials.

· In the United Kingdom, “water butts” (water casks) are often found in domestic gardens to collect rainwater which is then used to water the garden.

· Until 2009 in Colorado, water rights laws almost completely restricted rainwater harvesting; A property owner who captured rainwater was deemed to be stealing it from those who have rights to take water from the watershed. Now, residential well owners that meet certain criteria may obtain a permit to install a rooftop precipitation collection system.

· In Australia, rainwater harvesting is typically used to supplement the reticulated mains supply.

 


2011 PLANT PUZZLER #2 November 28th

GREETINGS, FLORA-PHILES!

We had some great guesses for the first Mystery Plant. Almost every single one of them got the right genus, and most guesses nailed the exact species we were looking for–great work! The plant in question? Eriogonum grande rubescens. The rose-colored flowers in the picture were a bit deceptive, since they’re normally much more vibrant. Close guesses were for eriogonum fasciculatum. A close coastal cousin!

MYSTERY PLANT #2:

  • Though I hale from the montane regions of Mediterranean Europe, I’ve acclimatized to the mediterranean climates around the world (and no longer have an accent).
  • A member of the grass family, my yellowy-green tussocks reach about 18″ tall
  • Each golden stalk of a seedhead is a tower of sparkling inflorescences. Allowed to bloom in the summer, they’ll persist well into the winter if your Felcos dont get the best of them.
  • One of the favorite grasses of the Greenman, I look at home massed in the natural meadow, dotting a perennial garden, or as a fine textured groundcover.

WHO AM I??

Enter your guess here! Include your name and email where required, and in the comment box, write the genus, species, and (where applicable) the cultivar name of the current week’s Mystery Plant. Write “Plant Puzzler” in the box marked “Phone” and include the date of the post with your entry. One guess per person, please! (Visit our Facebook page on Wednesday the 30th for a hint!)

DON’T FORGET!

For every correct Plant Puzzler answer we receive, we’re donating $1.00 to the SLO Botanical Garden. The top two people who guess the most correct plants at the end of the contest will win a bare-root tree! Check back next Monday, December 5th for the Correct answer, and the next Puzzler!

THIS WEEK’S WINNERS: Madeline, Daniel, Kaveh, Kim, Amy, Danielle, Greg, Christopher, and Mary.

We had some other very close guesses, and we’ll be honoring those folks, too, with a donation to the Botanical Garden.


Beyond Rain Barrels

Remember Grandma telling you that washing your hair in rainwater made it softer? If we look back a generation or two to Grandma’s time, almost everyone had a rain barrel. Despite the benefits of collecting the yearly downpour, however, rain barrels in our area often don’t collect enough water to last through our lengthy dry season. 
What to do?
If you have some extra space and are able to invest around $20,000 you can have your very own rainwater harvesting system that’s efficient to water your garden all year long. That’s a lot of output up front, but the savings over time are many, and you’d be doing our water stores a great service! Generally a 5,000 gallon tank is needed to collect enough water for Central Coast climate. Your garden will love rainwater just as your hair would, because it’s free of salts and harmful minerals and doesn’t have to be treated. 

2011 PLANT PUZZLER #1 November 21st

  • I originated in the archipelago of the westcoast of the US
  • I exhibit my sweet, rosy flowers in the later summer months
  • My candelabra-shaped flower stalks are reminiscent of California native Verbena (even though we’re not related)
  • Butterflies love me (what can I say!)
  • My seeds are a favorite of grouses, finches, larks, and sparrows

WHO AM I??

Enter your guess here! Include your name and email where required, and in the comment box, write the genus, species, and (where applicable) the cultivar name of the current week’s Mystery Plant. Write “Plant Puzzler” in the box marked “Phone” and include the date of the post with your entry. One guess per person, please! (Visit our Facebook page on Wednesday the 23rd for a hint!)

DON’T FORGET:

For every correct Plant Puzzler answer we receive, we’re donating $1.00 to the SLO Botanical Garden. The top two people who guess the most correct plants at the end of the contest will win a bare-root tree! Check back next Monday, November 28th for the Correct answer, and the next Puzzler!


2011 Plant Puzzler!

Think You’re A Plant Expert? 

…Would you like to find out?? Then accept our challenge to Name that Plant! Take a tour of Mediterranean flora in our weekly competition where we will post a picture and description of a plant, and do your best to figure it out. For every correct Plant Puzzler answer we receive, we’re donating $1.00 to the SLO Botanical Garden. The top two people who guess the most correct plants at the end of the contest will win a bare-root tree!

How It Works:

Check our blog every Monday from November 21st until December 19th to see the new Mystery Plant. Follow the “Guess” link to our entry form and provide your name, email, and your best guess in the comment box. (Please write “Plant Puzzler” in the box marked “Phone.”)

Names and emails are used for contest purposes only, and you will not be signed up for any mailing list.

Guess To Win: 

Provide your name and email address where required, and in the comment box, write the genus, species, and (where applicable) the cultivar name of the current week’s Mystery Plant. Write “Plant Puzzler” in the box marked “Phone” and include the date of the post with your entry. One guess per person, please!

Winners! 

Each Monday, a new Plant Puzzler will be published–and get consecutively harder. Each previous week’s correct answer will be posted with the current week’s Mystery Plant. Don’t forget to enter every week to win! Grand totals will be announced on December 21st.

Plant nerds, start your planters!

Slow it, Spread it, Sink it!

“We forget that the water cycle and the life cycle are one.”
Jacques Cousteau
 
Today we find sea levels rising, aquifers being depleted, snowpacks shrinking, and water supplies dwindling. We seem to be increasingly oscillating between periods of intense rain and drought. Many areas have been identified as places where surface and groundwater supplies won’t be able to meet future demands. If only there were ways to harvest rainwater and save it for drier times or to make the ground better able to absorb the water when we get it…
 
Luckily, there are!

Traditional building and landscaping practices were designed to dispose of stormwater as quickly as possible. We now know this results in significant damage to land, structures, and our surrounding environment. Instead of rainwater disposal, we’re advocates of the “slow it, sink it, spread it” approach. 
  • SLOW IT: Use land forms, berms, boulders, etc, to slow down rushing runoff
  • SPREAD IT: Reduce runoff volumes by distributing stormwater across gravel, swales, or permeable pavement
  • SINK IT: Increase retention of water by sinking it into the ground with thick mulch beds, earth basins, and more