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, 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.