By now everyone on the west coast of California is aware of our historical drought, especially those of us in sunny and dry Southern California. There are an abundance of simple ways to reduce our water use and help our drought situation, but also that enhance plant and soil health and reduce landfill waste. I believe the simplest steps, if taken in numbers by tenants and homeowners, make the greatest impact. I also believe we are being called into greater stewardship of the plot of land we inhabit, by becoming personally responsible for its well-being and our relationship with it. Wendell Berry writes in The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays, “…The care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
So, roll up your sleeves, check your garden tool inventory, lace up them boots and lets get to work!
Reducing Water Use
If it seems I repeat myself on these points, know that they make such a huge impact on our water use. And I find so few households implement them. You can see my previous two blogs on water saving strategies and lawn alternatives with native, Mediterranean and edible plants. Here I will cover the simplest, low or no cost strategies.
Enhancing Soil and Plant Health with Mulch
Mulch is the Master. I can’t say it more plainly. Take a look at soil in the wild. You almost never see it without natural leaf litter, which is nature’s mulch. Technically speaking mulch is anything that covers your soil in your planting beds. Gravel, straw, woods chips and green-waste are all mulches. For our purposes, I will be implying organic (plant based) material that can break down into soil eventually.
So what does mulch do?
The county of Santa Barbara offers free greenwaste, which is recycled, ground yard waste collected across the county. And did you know residents of the city of Goleta and Santa Barbara are entitled to two free mulch deliveries per year? Check out the free mulch delivery program. And if you’re not a resident of Santa Barbara County, check with your local county waste disposal program for what is offered.
Stay tuned for our next article: “Green Practices for your Home, Landscape and Garden part 2” where we explore the practice of composting.
Gregory Hyman is the owner of Cornerstone Landscapes, a locally owned and operated Santa Barbara-based construction company specializing in all phases of landscaping including consultation and planning, landscape design and construction. Learn more at landscapeSB.com
CA Contracor’s License # C-27: 981692
PO Box 3924 Santa Barbara, CA 93130
Ph: (805) 705-8023
Fax: (805) 687-0951
We serve the greater Santa Barbara area including Goleta, Montecito and Carpinteria.