In fall of 2007, the landscape architecture firm of April Philips Design Works, Inc. and the landscape construction company of Cagwin & Dorward, in conjunction with Dixie Elementary School and numerous donors and volunteers, completed a Rain Garden in the drop off loop at Dixie Elementary School in San Rafael, California. The beautification project is a demonstration garden that educates the students and community about ecology, sustainability, as well as being a case study garden to advance sustainable landscaping industry practices beyond the current status quo. We especially wish to thank the Dixie Home and School Club and the Dixie School District for their generosity and support.

Located in a 3,800 sq foot median within the school’s main entry and vehicular drop-off, the derelict looking landscape had never been developed or planted due to insufficient school funding and water conservation requirements. The design team chose to design a garden that would reflect its Mediterranean, coastal bioregion and meet the following goals: 100% zero waste, pesticide free, rely on predominantly native vegetation, use only organic soil amendments to increase permeability and water retention of the local soils. In addition, to use only local recycled and salvaged materials, total reliance on seasonal rain water instead of irrigation and to be designed and built by 100% volunteer effort in order to be economically viable.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Dixie Loop on the Bay-Friendly Garden Tour

On May 15th, 2010 the Dixie Loop was part of the Bay-Friendly Garden Tour. The Loop hosts were April Philips from April Philips Design Works and Jake Voit from Cagwin and Dorward. They were joined by Annie Spiegelman, the author of Talking Dirt: A new organic gardening how-to guide. Spiegelman also writes an organic gardening column entitled Dirt Diva in the Pacific Sun.

The Bay-Friendly garden tour celebrates the diverity of Bay-Friendly gardens. Urban farmers grow fruit and vegetabels and keep chicken and bees. Native plant enthusianst embrace the local flora while salvaged material aficionados blend recycled art into the landscape. These gardens offer something for everyone.
The Dixie Loop celebrated many of these aspects, including rainwater harvesting in its natural cistern, native plants providing habitat and food for wildlife, recycled materials such as the paver path, and community volunteering as well as educational resources.

Thanks to the Cagwin & Dorward and April Philips Design Works team for getting the loop ready the days before the tour.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Winter break clean-up & Bay-Friendly sign

The Dixie Loop earned a total of 121 points under the following 7 Bay-Friendly Landscape Principles:

21 pts Landscape Locally
17 pts Less to the Landfill
15 pts Nurture the Soil
26 pts Conserve Water
6 pts Conserve Energy
22 pts Protect Water & Air Quality
14 pts Create & Protect Wildlife Habitat
This means that the Dixie Loop has exceeded conventional landscape practices.
Thanks to Cagwin and Dorward (C&D) who relocated the baby oak tree from the Loop to the location of the previous oak tree that had died. We also planted two Arbutus unedo trees, also known as Strawberry Trees, to provide shade and protection for our baby oak until it grows big and strong. A crew from C&D also did a lot of winter weeding and clean-up during the ski-week winter break.
Additionally, we put up the Bay-friendly sign and planted California native poppies which will bloom in the coming months. So keep an eye open for these newcomers.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Bay-Friendly Certified!

In the spring of 2009, APDW submitted a folder to be reviewed for the Bay-Friendly Certificate. This award allows the participant to get a total of 186 points of which 60 are required to receive the certification. APDW submitted its project information with the goal to achieve 120 points. After the committee's review, APDW received its total 121 points for the Dixie Elementary School Loop and the project was Bay-Friendly Certified.


What is Bay-Friendly Landscaping?
Bay-Friendly Ladscaping is a whole systems approach to the design, creation and maintenance of the landscape in order to support the integrity of one of California's most wonderful ecosystems, the San Francisco Bay watershed. A well-designed and maintained Bay-Friendly Landscape can cost less to maintain in the long run by consuming fewer resources. For the Dixie Loop, the Bay-Friendly Landscape symbolizes community values for health, wildlife and the environment. It also addresses issues such as lowering water use and garbage bills. Check out Stopwaste.org.
Next Steps:
APDW is currently working on identifying grant funding for future Educational Signage, which will explain the Bay-Friendly Landscape processes and goals at the Dixie Loop.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Summer Suprises at the Loop

Over the hot summer months, birds and squirrels were busy harvesting nuts and seeds. They carried acorns to the loop and buried them. With so many hiding places, the little critters could not remember that they had left two of them buried in the fertile soil at the Loop. Now that students have returned to school, you can see these little acorns have started to grow into little baby-oak trees. We welcome them and try to protect them.

On a sad note, our 6' foot tall oak tree we planted early spring does not look like it is doing well. We will watch it over the winter to see how it does but may eventually replace it with one of our new summer seedling gifts.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weeding Day at the Loop

If you have seen the daffodils, sages and penstemons blooming at the Loop, you probably also saw the threatening amount of weeds taking over the rain-garden.
The old saying, "One year's seeding means seven years' weeding" holds true. And it adds up quickly. The more seeds fall onto the soil, the more weeds start to grow.
Weeds rob valuable nutrients from the soil and compete with herbs, flowers, shrubs and trees. It's important to eliminate weeds, yet, not all weeds are bad. Weeding might be considered a nasty chore, but it's a great way to really get to know what's going on in the garden. Plus, when it's done in the right frame of mind, weeding can be a pleasant, Zen-like, experience. It brings parents and student, teachers and community together. Thank you to all the helpers. The Loop was weeded more than 75% and another flyer will soon announce a future weeding day to finish up the Loop. So watch out that you do not miss the opportunity to be part of this experience.
Also, thank you to Jake and Lauren from Cagwin and Dorward, who helped out and applied a compost tea to the plants at the Loop. Compost Tea is a highly concentrated microbial solution produced by extracting beneficial microbes from compost. There are four essentials in creating the best possible compost tea situation for the microbes: Water, Air, Food and Comfort. With a strong foliar application the plant is occupied by beneficial microbes that will out-compete pests or diseases, leaving no room for infection.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Winter has come to the Loop

Many have noticed the cold climate that has entered the Bay Area. It brings that Holiday feeling. The winter frost has also come to the loop. We'd like to thank Paramount Group/Morgan Stanley for donating plants from the One Market Roof Garden Renovation Project. Thanks also to April, Gary and Roy for planting and coordinating the new plantings.
We wish you Happy Holidays and a Great New Year.