Just in time for planting season, Daily Acts is hosting its free “Resilient Homes & Hubs Tour,” this Sat., May 4th, to showcase water-wise landscaping in Cotati, Petaluma and Windsor. While the immediate threat of drought is over for the time being, California is prone to having drought conditions regularly, and landscapers, homeowners, and commercial properties alike have worked to replace water-thirsty lawns with water efficient, climate appropriate and native species landscaping. The tour aims to help people obtain ideas for saving water while beautifying their home.
“The tour is important to folks who may have entertained the idea of re-landscaping or just removing their thirsty lawns,” says John Dell’Osso, Mayor of the City of Cotati whose own home has been one of those featured in years past. “The tour gives people ideas, right down to the specific plant types and how those plants look (year round), provide habitat for insects and birds, and look nice too! I remember taking more than 70 people on tours of the front and back yards and many people were writing down names of plants they liked and thought about trying.”
Sometimes called “dry,” “water-conserving,” “native,” “drought tolerant,” “water smart” or “climate appropriate” landscaping, the new term dedicated specifically to landscaping and gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental water from irrigation is “xeriscaping.” By whatever name is used, this method saves money and dwindling resources, using up to two-thirds less water than regular lawn landscapes, minimizes time and energy in reduced maintenance, not to mention restores habitats and reduces waste and pollution as lawn clippings contribute to organic waste in landfills and the use of heavy fertilizers contributes to urban runoff pollution. As xeriscape plants take full advantage of rainfall retention, more water is made available for other domestic and community uses and the environment, especially important during drought years.
“The number one reason [to make our home water-wise] was to remove the lawn, even though they look nice when maintained,” says Dell’Osso. “However, it requires a significant amount of water and many people use fertilizers to keep their lawns green. We never used fertilizer but certainly used water. We redid our yard about 14-15 years ago.”
The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership sponsors the Resilient Homes and Hubs Tour, which is an annual self-guided Eco-Friendly Garden Tour. However, Daily Acts is offering special guided tours from 10am - 1pm running concurrently in Petaluma, Windsor and Cotati.
Participants will see rain tanks watering vegetable beds, greywater irrigating fruit trees, an understory of low-water-use insectary plants, a thick layer of water-retaining mulch on the old lawn area, and beautiful rain gardens. After learning about how stunning, functional, and money-saving a water-wise garden can be, participants are encouraged to have some delicious homegrown snacks after the tour.
Interested participants can sign up online for the city of their choice at dailyacts.org. Directions will then be sent to one’s registration confirmation email.
“I was motivated by the great work that Daily Acts does first and foremost,” says Dell’Osso when asked what motivated him offer his home as part of the tour in the past. “Secondly, I thought it would be fun to show folks options for their yards, even if they just did it in sections.”