On Sunday, June 26, the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council’s Sustainability Committee held its first annual Sustainable Garden Tour, highlighting 18 homes and other area locations with drought-tolerant and sustainable landscaping. Although many homes in our area still have traditional lawns, a growing number of homeowners are taking advantage of DWP rebates and climate-sensitive trends, some new and some ages old, to transform their yards into fresh, exicting and more sustainable oases.
The tour was very well attended, with more than 400 people eager to see and learn from the participating gardens. Here are several things we discovered, confirmed or learned on this year’s tour:
- Native and drought-tolerant plants come in an amazing bounty of colors and textures…and the best sustainable gardens showcase the variety. Traditional lawns are starting to look almost boring in comparison.
- Although people may think “dry” when they think of drought-tolerant landscaping, modern garden fountains recycle their water…and use smaller amounts of it than ever. Many gardens we saw have lovely water features.
- Keeping our natural habitats alive requires the service of pollinators, and whether or not gardens are designed specifically to attract bees, many native plants – which can be included in any garden – are natural attractors for our buzzy friends.
- Sustainable landscaping not only uses materials that reduce water usage, but also recycles building materials as well…such as turning old, broken concrete into pavers and/or building blocks.
- Paths and driveways don’t have to be solid concrete, and can help capture water for nearby landscaping if they’re made of water-permeable materials.
- Sometimes our ancestors had the best solutions – ollas, clay pots buried in the soil and then filled with water that seeps slowly out to nourish nearby plants – are one of humanity’s most ancient irrigation tools…and one that’s making a big comeback in modern gardens.
- Sometimes new technology helps, too – for example, PlantNanny bottle stakes can turn old water or wine bottles into handy drip irrigation containers.
- No one says drought-tolerant gardens have to be purely aesthetic. Many gardens we saw mix edibles – such as this lovely artichoke – into front-yard landscaping.
These are just a few of the things we saw on yesterday’s tour. Many more below (click on any thumbnail to see a larger version of the photo). If you’d like to share others, please do so in the comments below!