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Respecting Water in the Garden

Articles: Respecting Water in the Garden

Resources from Pacific Horticulture archives:

Resilient plantings and permeable surfaces in a water-sensitive garden. Photo: Phillip Otto Photography

The 2016 Pacific Horticulture Water-Sensitive Landscape Design series with guest editor Marilee Kuhlmann.

Where did the Water Go? A Watershed Approach” – Part 1: This article advises us all to step back and look at water resources from a broader perspective that factors in regional geography and hydrology, consider everyone involved, and make decisions based on the health of the whole system.

The Big Shift, Earth’s Renewal from the Bottom Up” – Part 2: Authors Marilee Kulhmann and Paula Henson explore surprising revelations recently uncovered about earth science and propose new alternatives to traditional garden practices. And how gardeners can help heal the planet.

Designing for the New Normal, Asking Questions” – Part 3: Tom Rau, a landscape architect specializing in watershed design, talks about retooling the design process and working to devise creative solutions for more resilient landscapes that enhance and support our environment.

Making a Difference, Managing Water” – Part 4: Creating gardens during an extended drought means more than making smart plant choices. Our series has covered shifting climate patterns, nurturing soil biology, and adjust our approach to designing gardens. But it all comes down to water.

Photo: Saxon Holt/Photobotanic.com
Photo: Saxon Holt/Photobotanic.com

Browning of the Greensward (Revisited)” – In the summer 2015 issue we excerpted a story written by Russell A. Beatty that first appeared in the fall 1977 issue of Pacific Horticulture, in which Mr. Beatty thoughtfully examined the sweep of California’s history and its impact on contemporary attitudes toward landscape design, factoring in our yearning for Paradise, and a stubborn tendency to manipulate the environment in spite of climatic realities. Since its publication nearly four decades ago, this has been our publication’s most requested article by both homeowners and industry professionals alike.

The Changing Western Climate: How It’s Likely to Affect You, Your Garden, and the Climate Zone Maps You Depend Upon” – A thoughtful article by Jim McCausland from our 2008 archives that advises gardeners to look at the big picture and understand the nuances and implications of a warming climate.

Earth’s water cycle. Illustration by Andrea Hurd
Earth’s water cycle. Illustration by Andrea Hurd

Green is the Color of Nature” – San Francisco Bay Area landscape designer Andrea Hurd makes a case for the importance of gardens during times of drought and their ability to offset negative aspects of a increasingly warmer climate.

Making (the Most of) Rain in LA” – The story of a Los Angeles couple that didn’t wait for water restriction to control their tropical paradise and how they went about creating a rainwater harvesting system based on actual irrigation needs.

Quiet Crisis, Saving Trees in Los Angeles” – Contributor Andy Lipkis, founder of TreePeople, talks about how the loss of trees is a tipping point that begins a vicious cycle of creating an ever hotter and drier urban climate that threatens our cities’ health and livability.


Further reading:

Cows save the planet

Cows Save the Planet, and Other Improbably Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth, Judith D. Schwartz, Chelsea Green Publishing, 2013

An optimistic—and entertaining—look at innovative thinking and actionable solutions to preserve soil and its “imperceptible, animal-vegetable-mineral dance that keeps us alive.” The very premise of this enjoyable read, on an admittedly dense subject, is if we attend to the soil, the world’s ecological cycles will begin to correct themselves. (PHS review)

Creating Rain Gardens: Capturing the Rain for Your Own Water-Efficient Garden, Apryl Uncapher & Cleo Woelfle-Erskine, Timber Press, 2012

This book is a practical and thorough DIY guide for home gardeners looking for simple, easy-to-implement projects to create water conserving, efficient rain gardens.

soil 3“It’s very important that you look at your soil as a living partner.” – Marilee Kuhlmann

Teeming with Microbes, The Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web, revised edition, Jeff Lowenfels, Timber Press, 2010

An enthusiastic look well grounded in solid science at living soil and its critical role in sustaining productive organic gardens and a nutritious harvest.

teeming-cover-webTeeming with Nutrients, The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition, Jeff Lowenfels, Timber Press, 2013

Offers thorough explanations and practical information about how nutrients work to support and sustain healthy, productive organic gardens. (PHS review)


The Water Issue, in this November 2016 special edition of Digger magazine, an Oregon-based trade publication, contributors examine water rights, water conservation, and water quality, challenging factors impacting nurseries today, and take a look at meeting the growing demand for low-water plants.

The Water-Saving Garden, How to Grow a Gorgeous Garden with a Lot Less Water, Pam Penick, Ten Speed Press, 2016

Design inspiration and practical advice prove that water-wise gardens can be both beautiful and efficient with previous water resources.

The Water-wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture, and reuse Water in Your Home and Landscape, Laura Allen, Storey Publishing, 2015

The Los Angeles-based author offers strategies for homeowners to radically reduce their water use and an expert guide to practical, low-tech solutions for conserving and harvesting water around the home and garden.

Drip irrigation in the water-sensitive landscape. Photo: Garden Tribe
Drip irrigation in the water-sensitive landscape. Photo: Garden Tribe

“It really behooves all of us to see how we can use our water intelligently.” – Tom Fischer, senior acquisitions editor, Timber Press


Additional resources:

Rescape California offers workshops on eliminating turf, watershed approaches to landscape design, rainwater harvesting, designing drip irrigation, and more, for horticultural professionals and laypeople. Find out more at www.rescapeca.org.

TreePeople is committed to inspiring and supporting the people of Los Angeles and their efforts to plant and care for trees, harvest the rain, and renew depleted landscapes. Find out more at www.treepeople.org.

Urban Water Group is a design/build consortium based in Los Angeles committed to crafting beautiful functional landscapes that can thrive in persistent drought conditions. www.urbanwatergroup.com




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