City of Mountain View Unveils New Community Garden

The City of Mountain View presents the Grand Opening of Latham Community Garden on Friday, August 16, 2019 at 10 a.m. The ceremony is open to the public and will feature a dedication, ribbon cutting, community photo, light refreshments and self-guided tours. Latham Community Garden is located at 650 South Shoreline Boulevard.

The Latham Community Garden is one of three community gardens within the City of Mountain View. This .8 acre project features 84 plots, including six ADA plots and up to ten short term plots. Additionally, Garden members have shared access to a community shed and garden tools. All plots have been filled utilizing existing waitlists from the Willowgate and Senior Community Gardens. To learn more about the City’s community garden programs, visit www.MountainView.gov/Gardens.

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NEW!! Graywater Workshop Video

The summer is in full swing. Landscapes are getting thirstier as the days get hotter. Why not help your plants with a new graywater system? Graywater from your clothes washer is a locally controlled, drought-resilient water supply that helps you reuse water without needing a bucket!

But how do you start? How much does it cost to install a laundry graywater system? Who has the time to figure all this out? Valley Water is here to help.

Check out our virtual graywater workshop today! It’s divided into a 4-part series to help you figure out at your own pace whether a laundry to landscape graywater system will work for you, what you need to know about graywater from your sinks and showers, how to plan for project costs, and why graywater has benefits beyond reusing water.

After watching the virtual workshop, you can find more information, including how-to videos, can be found at valleywater.org/graywater and valleywater.org/GraywaterResources. Ready to take action?

Sign up for our Direct Installation Service made possible for a limited time through a partnership with Ecology Action. We will connect you with contractors to do the work for free or a highly-discounted price. Or, apply for Valley Water’s $200-$400 rebate. Take that first step to make your landscapes green and thriving with graywater by attending a virtual workshop today.

Happy Gardening (with graywater)!!

Lovely landscape, irrigated with graywater

Lovely landscape, irrigated with graywater

Fire Safe Landscaping

Last Fall, California experienced some of the most intense fires in recent history. Don’t wait until it’s too late! Make sure your landscaping is fire-safe. Click here for great tips from CAL FIRE.

Graphic courtesy of CALFIRE

Graphic courtesy of CALFIRE

Do you know what “defensible space” and “ember intrusion” principles are? These underlying ideas are critical to reducing fire risk when planning landscape plantings and installations or conversions. There are several “zones” around a home with different likelihoods of catching fire. Understanding proper spacing, placement, species selection and best maintenance practices will help you reduce fire risk on your property.

Many native and drought tolerant plants are good candidates for a fire-resistant palette and provide habitat and food sources for local critters. Lucky for you, adapting your landscape to be fire-safe is simple and affordable! Fire-safe landscapes can even increase your property value and conserve water while beautifying your home.

Choose Fire-Resistant Plants and Materials

  • Create fire-safe zones with rock mulch borders, stone walls, patios, non-wood decks and roadways.

  • Use rock, mulch, flower beds and gardens as ground cover for bare spaces and weed suppression.

  • There are no “fire-proof” plants. Select plants that retain moisture such as succulents, and ones that grow close to the ground and have a low sap or resin content.

  • Choose fire-retardant plant species that resist ignition such as rockrose, ice plant and aloe.

  • Install a Rain Garden near your home to help sink rainfall into the soil and retain moisture.

  • Plant medium-water need plants near the building to create a moisture barrier.

  • Select fire-resistant shrubs such as hedging roses, bush honeysuckles, currant, cotoneaster, sumac and shrub apples.

  • Plant hardwood, maple, poplar and cherry trees that are less flammable than pine, fir and other conifers.

Check your local nursery, landscape contractor or county’s UC Cooperative Extension service for advice on fire-resistant plants that are suited for your area. Or, take a class through the California Native Plant Society to help you prepare!

By Amber Schat, Environmental Services Specialist, City of San Jose

Green Gardener Training - Fall 2019

Meet the demand for Green Gardening practices and expand your business prospects! Come take the Green Gardener Training in English (starting on August 28th) or in Spanish (starting on August 29th).

This ten-week series of classes will provide you with the key principles of Sustainable Landscaping or Green Gardening by learning practices that conserve water, enhance and protect the soil, and reduce the use of pesticides. Green Gardening creates a healthier garden for your client, a healthier work environment for you and your employees, and a better environment for our shared land and water resources. Those who successfully complete the classroom and hands-on training program by attending at least 80% and pass a final exam will receive a certificate and will be identified as Santa Clara Valley Green Gardeners and will receive free advertising and promotional referrals to clients seeking “Green”or sustainable landscaping services. 

For more information call (408)-522-2700 or click here.

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July is Smart Irrigation Month

Today’s irrigation systems include sophisticated controllers that allow you to easily adjust watering schedules to fit different needs.

Get in the zone. Schedule each individual zone in your irrigation system to account for type of sprinkler, sun or shade exposure, and soil in that section. Different zones will almost always need different watering schedules.

Consider soil type. Type of soil determines how quickly water can be absorbed without runoff. Watering more than soil can absorb causes runoff and waste.

Don’t send water down the drain. Set sprinklers to water plants, not your driveway, sidewalk, patio or buildings.

Water only when needed. Saturate root zones and let the soil dry. Watering too much and too frequently results in shallow roots, weed growth, disease and fungus.

Water at the best time. Watering during the heat of the day may cause losses of up to 30 percent due to evaporation. Prevent water loss by watering when the sun is low or down, winds are calm and temperatures are cool — typically between the evening and early morning.

Water more often for shorter periods. For example, setting your system to run for three, 5-minute intervals lets soil absorb more water than watering for 15 minutes at one time, reducing runoff.

Adapt watering to the season. Familiarize yourself with the settings on your irrigation controller and adjust the watering schedule regularly based on seasonal weather conditions. Or invest in a smart controller so your system can make these changes automatically.

Thank you to the Irrigation Association for these great tips!  To find out more about how to water wisely - or for a free irrigation efficiency evaluation - click here.

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Happy Pollinator Week!

The Pollinator Partnership has designated June 17-23, 2019 as National Pollinator Week.

Pollinator species such as bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles are essential for our food supply, and provide significant environmental benefits necessary for maintaining biodiversity and healthy ecosystems.

This year, you can celebrate pollinators by planting a pollinator-friendly garden of your own with native flowering plants, using less-toxic pest control products, and by participating in the Parks for Pollinators BioBlitz Challenge.

Happy Gardening!

Butterfly enjoying some buckwheat.

Butterfly enjoying some buckwheat.

Love Birds? Plant Oaks! (Part 2 of 2)

Among the “powerhouse” bird-food providers in California are oaks. In Santa Clara County, we have 15 species of native oak trees and shrubs!

Re-oaking Silicon Valley” reveals how oak woodlands once carpeted the valley and, that by re-integrating oaks into our developed landscapes, we can increase shade, store carbon, provide food for wildlife, save water, and restore some of Santa Clara County’s “historical ecology.” Winter and early spring are ideal times for planting oaks, so get out and plant one (or many) today!   

By Zooey Elsa Diggory, Senior Biologist, Santa Clara Valley Water District

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