Great Race for Saving Water 5K, 10K and Kids Dash on Saturday, April 13th

If you are looking for a wonderful, family-friendly event, look no further than the Great Race for Saving Water in Palo Alto on Saturday, April 13th. This fun run and walk raises awareness about water resources, conservation, a healthy environment and healthy communities.

Register today, and don't miss your chance to chase the running toilet!

Earth Day Festival

After the race, join us for a free festival with electric vehicle ride & drive, live music, nature activities, arts & crafts, raffle, zoo animals, outdoor games, environmental and public safety resources...and much more!

  • Event schedule

  • Activity map

  • The race begins at 9am and festival activities continue to 1pm.

  • A special ribbon-cutting ceremony for the San Francisquito Creek Bay to 101 project will be held before the race at 8:45am.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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The Monarch Butterfly Crisis: What's Happening and How You Can Help - Two Upcoming Workshops in San Jose

Have you heard about the recent reports of the decline in monarch butterflies? Do you wonder how you can help? You are in luck - there are two upcoming workshops in San Jose: one on March 16 and one on March 23.

The workshops are presented by Santa Clara County Master Gardener Rebecca Schoenberger. In the workshop, you will learn about the monarch butterflies life cycle, habitat, and migration patterns. We'll also discuss why monarchs are in danger, and what you can do to help conservation efforts. We'll review several specific plants you can have in your garden to create a monarch habitat at your home.

Our Events Page has a number of other great landscaping classes for you to explore.

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The Benefit of Bugs

There’s just no getting around it - insects are in trouble. According to a recent New York Times article, insect populations around the globe are rapidly dropping. Insects are important for a number of reasons but one of the biggest for humans is that they help pollinate our crops.

This is scary but the important thing is each of us can do our part to help. Here are some ways you can help:

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Resolve to Save Your Rainwater! NEW Rebates for Rain Barrels and more!

We want you to capture the rain!! The Santa Clara Valley Water District is now offering Rainwater Capture Rebates within its Landscape Rebate Program. 

Rain gardens, rain barrels, and cisterns are all systems used to keep rainwater onsite for reuse within the landscape and are now available for a rebate.

For all rebates under the Landscape Rebate Program, including the Rainwater Capture Rebates, application submittal and approval is required before purchasing any new equipment or starting any work.  Please visit the Water District’s website for more information or call our Hotline at (408) 630-2554.     

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Fire Safe Landscaping

Because of the recent fires in our state, it’s more important than ever to make sure your landscaping is fire-safe. Here are some great tips from Cal Fire:

FIRE-RESISTANT LANDSCAPING

A fire-safe landscape isn’t necessarily the same thing as a well-maintained yard. A fire-safe landscape uses fire-resistant plants that are strategically planted to resist the spread of fire to your home. Fire resistant plants are great in California because they are often drought tolerant, too.

The good news is, you don’t need a lot of money to make your landscape fire safe. And you will find that a fire-safe landscape can increase your property value and conserve water while beautifying your home.

Choose Fire-Resistant Plants and Materials

  • Create fire-safe zones with stone walls, patios, decks and roadways.

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

  • There are no “fire-proof” plants. Select high-moisture plants 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.

  • 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.

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It's Time to Fall Back on Your Watering

With rain finally in the forecast (yea!) and cooler weather, it’s a good time to adjust automatic sprinkler and irrigation systems.  This saves money on water bills, and also helps to prevent pollution in our creeks and streams.

California’s Save our Water website has some great information about how to save water around the yard.

You might also be interested in getting a rebate for switching out your lawn for water-efficient plants. The Santa Clara Valley Water District’s water conservation page has more information about rebates.

Happy Gardening!

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Rainy Day Landscape Management Tips

Are you sick of dealing with flooding generated at home or transported from nearby areas when it rains? Urban areas are especially prone to the negative effects of runoff because of the large amounts of impervious surfaces in our world. Although storm drain systems are effective at moving water off the roads and into our creeks and the bay, none of the water is treated and pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers and trash can be difficult and expensive to remove.

Here are a couple ways to help reduce runoff and prevent pollutants from impacting water quality by mimicking nature:

1. Soil: Knowing your soil type can help you find ways to improve water holding capacity and drainage. Most native soils in San Jose are clay or clay loam. Clay can hold onto water for a long time, but it can also prevent water from infiltrating. Clay soils can be amended with gypsum and compost (organic matter) to break down tough minerals and increase the pore spaces in the soil. Check out this factsheet for more information:

2. Hardscape: Do you have a concrete path or driveway? Do the downspouts from your home drain roof runoff directly onto them? If so, consider replacing these with a permeable option such as porous bricks, perk grout, decomposed granite, permeable asphalt, etc. Or perhaps slope and redirect runoff from hardscapes so that they drain towards vegetated areas such as swales or rain gardens. Both methods will reduce the total volume of water reaching nearby water bodies, settle out fine particles, and give microbes in the soil a chance to neutralize or capture/remove pollutants. Check out this factsheet for more information:

3. Rainwater Harvesting: If you have rain gutters and down spouts that collect roof runoff, your site is likely a good candidate for a rain barrel or cistern. Capturing rainwater is easy and often requires minimal time and investment. Rainwater can be utilized for non-potable uses such as irrigation. Temporarily storing small amounts of rainwater can help prevent erosion, improve water quality, and reduce demand for drinking water.

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Autumn leaves - perfect for mulch and compost!

The secret ingredient to incredible compost and mulch LITERALLY grows on trees.  That's right, it's leaves.  Thinking about mowing your lawn?  Don't rake those leaves first.  Instead, get a mulching mower, which chops them up into tiny pieces that will enhance your soil and improve your lawn.  Bonus - no raking involved!

If you don't have a lawn, and you're wondering what to do with those leaves, they can be used as mulch, chopped up and put right on your landscape.  Or you can create beautiful compost by combining leaves (carbon) with moist, organic material (nitrogen), such as old coffee grounds.  Check out this short video on leaf mulching.

Happy Gardening!

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