Cluster Rose, (Rosa pisocarpa), in the Klamath Mountains of California. Photo by Nick Jensen.

Cluster Rose, (Rosa pisocarpa), in the Klamath Mountains of California. Photo by Nick Jensen.

Native is the New Green: New Rebates and May Events Encourage Water-wise Native Gardens

In March, Sacramento’s City Council voted to move forward with a plan to join the list of California cities to implement a “cash for grass” program in which rebates will be offered to homeowners who replace their lawns with drought-tolerant landscaping. Local residents immediately jammed switchboards in an attempt to sign up for the new rebates, with officials advising people to call 311 to schedule a Water Wise House Call. The instant popularity of the initiative is another sign that Californians are becoming increasingly aware of the dire environmental impacts of the state’s current drought, and a number of local organizations are stepping up to help the community figure out how to take action. Whether or not the rebate program can move quickly enough to accommodate those ready and willing to rip out their water guzzling turf, native plant advocates are here to showcase the many other benefits of the Golden State’s natural flora. Native-plant landscaping is low maintenance and, since native plants are hardwired to adapt to local environments, requires less water, less fertilizer, and little to no pesticides. Add to this the beautiful array of colors and scents, and the wildlife viewing made possible by the natural draw of native plants for native wildlife, and there’s no denying it: cash or no cash, a native garden is the place to be! To get your […]

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Variable Snowpack Provides Constant Threat and Ongoing Reminder to Use Water Efficiently

The Regional Water Authority (RWA) has released the following statement in response to snow survey results announced today by the California Department of Water Resources. "Just a month ago, California’s snowpack was well above average. Now, after just one relatively dry January, today’s snow survey shows below normal conditions. "California’s variable precipitation is a constant threat to our water supplies and an ongoing reminder for all of us to use only the water that we need. "Having enough water is critical to California and our local economy, and water efficiency plays an important role. The Regional Water Authority and local water providers ask residents to use water efficiently by following these winter watering tips: Turn off your automatic sprinklers for the winter. Plants typically don’t need as much water this time of year. Lower temperatures, shorter daylight hours and moisture from fog and rain all combine to reduce the water demands of a typical landscape. If you have the type of lawn that is dormant during the winter, most likely it does not need supplemental water. Check soil moisture before turning your sprinklers back on. Use a garden trowel or shovel to dig down about three to six inches. If the soil looks and feels dry several inches or more below the surface, water the landscape one day per week or according to your water […]

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Landscapers learn new niche through Green Gardener program

Trained Professionals Help Residents Create Beautiful, Sustainable Landscapes   Top names in the sustainable landscaping industry recently gathered to celebrate new Green Gardener graduates. Green Gardeners are landscape professionals that undergo an intensive, 10-week training course in sustainable, River-Friendly landscaping. During the course, participants learn principles and practices that can help reduce urban runoff and conserve water. "The Green Gardener program is important to the Sacramento region because it trains landscaping professionals to garden responsibly and to protect our resources, especially our waterways," said Debbie Flower, Horticulture Professor at American River College and one of the industry leaders who attended the graduation. "The program also provides a niche for professionals to market their services, which can be especially important in this economic environment." More and more homeowners are asking their landscapers for safer, healthier gardening products and methods, said Kellogg Garden Products Manager Rex Lamb, another industry leader who attended the event. "Homeowners are catching on that they gotta be green. They  want to landscape organically, in a way that’s healthier for their family," Lamb said, adding that Kellogg now sells more organic fertilizers than synthetic fertilizers 10 to one in Northern California. The graduation honored 72 Green Gardener graduates. Since the program launched in fall 2009, more than 200 landscape professionals have attended Green Gardener classes, and nearly 150 have graduated. Graduates include contractors, designers, […]

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Local business owner profile: Craig Triebwasser of Valley Redwood, Inc.

"Local business owner profile" is a regular column highlighting local business owners; the backbone of our community and economy. Each column explores the personal stories of the owners and the businesses they built. Craig Triebwasser’s office window looks out onto the shop yard filled with neat stacks of stone, bricks and fencing. His domain is Valley Redwood Inc., the business that he and his father built 30 years ago. In the 1970s, Craig worked at a wholesale lumber distribution and manufacturing plant in Rocklin. While there he got an education in the wholesale business as he shipped lumber all over the country and made connections to other folks in the building supply industry. In 1982, when a small lumber and nursery shop in Sacramento became available, Craig and his father talked it over and decided to buy the business. They eliminated the nursery section and focused their efforts on redwood lumber, which was Craig’s area of expertise. Today, the company has expanded from selling only redwood fencing and decking materials to building blocks and bricks, retaining wall systems, pavers, natural stone and landscaping materials. They also carry hardware and tools for project needs. The business is holding steady despite heavy competition and hard economic times. There are more than 70 companies in the Sacramento area whose services and products overlap with those offered by Valley […]

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Want to create a beautiful, sustainable landscape?

Area residents can get answers to their most vexing landscaping questions and check out beautiful, low-water use plants at "Ask a Green Gardener Day" on Saturday, May 19. May is “Water Awareness Month." To celebrate, the Regional Water Authority and local water providers are partnering with nurseries throughout the Sacramento region to host "Ask a Green Gardener Day." Green Gardeners are landscape professionals that undergo an intensive, 10-week training course in sustainable, River-Friendly landscaping. They include maintenance professionals, contractors, designers, arborists and irrigation experts. During this free event, visitors will have the opportunity to meet qualified Green Gardeners and ask questions about creating and maintaining landscapes that use resources–like water—more efficiently and with fewer chemicals for a healthier environment. Participating nurseries will have on display of beautiful, low-water use plants and Arboretum All Stars that look great and grow well in our climate with little or no water. Nurseries participating in "Ask a Green Gardener Day" include: Big Oak Nursery–10 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.bigoaknursery.com 10071 Grant Line Road Elk Grove, CA 95624 Bushnell Gardens Nursery–10 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.bushnellgardens.com 5420 Douglas Blvd., Ste. A Granite Bay, CA 95746 Fair Oaks Boulevard Nursery–10 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.fairoaksblvdnursery.com 4681 Fair Oaks Blvd. Sacramento, CA 95864 Front Yard Nursery–10 a.m. to 12 p.m. www.frontyardnursery.com 5801 Mother Lode Drive Placerville, CA 95667 The Flower Farm–10 a.m. […]

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Check Moisture Before Ramping Up Landscape Irrigation, Water Providers Urge

With the recent dry weather and warmer temperatures, Sacramento-area residents might be tempted to ramp up their landscape irrigation. But, the Regional Water Authority and local water providers are recommending restraint. "Plants don’t need as much water this time of year, even without rain," said Linda Yager, Regional Water Efficiency Program Manager. Lower temperatures, shorter daylight hours and moisture from fog and rain all combine to reduce the water demands of a typical landscape. Edible gardens and fruit bearing trees have special water requirements, so please consult with a landscape professional or your local Master Gardeners for more information. The Regional Water Authority and local water providers offer the following dry winter tips for the typical landscape: Before turning on your irrigation system, check the soil to see and feel if it is still moist by using a garden trowel or shovel to dig down about three to six inches. If the soil is dry several inches or more below the surface, water the landscape one day per week, according to your water provider’s schedule. Apply the “soak and cycle” method, which means to water your landscape on that one day and let the water soak into the soil for about an hour. Then use a trowel or shovel again to check the soil moisture. If the soil is moist to a depth of three […]

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Hands-On Workshop and Blue Thumb Garden Party Scheduled for Nov. 5

Blue Thumb Neighbors (BTN) is offering a special workshop to provide Witter Ranch (Natomas) residents with a hands-on opportunity to apply sustainable landscape practices to a neighbor’s yard. Working with the host, the BTN team will develop an action plan for transforming one ornamental planting area with beautiful, low-water use plants and upgrading sprinkler heads in one turf area. BTN instructors, participants and volunteers will then dig in and implement those plans during the Garden Party. The Garden Party will include both instruction and hands-on application on the following topics: Soil and Soil Amendments: Discuss soil health, use of compost and how the site was prepared Hydrozones, Plants and Planting: Identify the garden’s hydrozones, review the landscape design plan and plant list, learn how to properly space plants based upon mature size and install plants and trees Efficient Garden Watering (planting bed): Match selected plants to the irrigation method, review scheduling, maintenance and proper emitter placement Efficient Garden Watering (turf): Practice how to replace older sprinklers with efficient rotary nozzles Mulch Magic: Learn about the proper application of mulch, including the correct depth and distance from plants, and then apply mulch to the garden ____________________________ What: Blue Thumb Garden Party Where: Home of Anita Mora, 2942 Chateau Montelena Way When: Saturday, November 5, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Who: Witter Ranch residents and Blue Thumb […]

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Witter Ranch Selected for ‘Blue Thumb Neighbors’ Program

The Witter Ranch neighborhood in Natomas has been selected to participate in “Blue Thumb Neighbors,” a free program sponsored by the Regional Water Authority and City of Sacramento Department of Utilities. The project will teach residents there how to create healthy, beautiful, River‐Friendly landscapes that compliment their homes and neighborhood. River‐Friendly landscaping is a holistic approach to sustainable landscaping that uses resources, like water, efficiently and incorporates practices that foster soil health, reduce waste and prevent pollution of the air and waterways. Each participating household will receive a free at‐home consultation on efficient watering, sponsored by the City of Sacramento, and then education and resource kits during three October workshops on sustainable landscape design, efficient irrigation and proper plant selection. “When we first heard of this program, we knew that Natomas was an ideal candidate area,” said Dave Brent, Interim Director of the City of Sacramento Department of Utilities. “And when we approached Witter Ranch, their enthusiasm proved we were right. We look forward to working with them and helping them to implement real changes that will make a difference in their water use and their monthly utility bills.” Neighborhoods from throughout the City of Sacramento were nominated for the program and then evaluated according to 13 criteria, which included whether the neighborhood is metered and representative of other communities in the Sacramento region. After […]

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“Top 10 Products for Saving Water At Home” to be Showcased May 7 at Lowe’s

Mulch, drip irrigation kits and rain sensors…What do all of these have in common? They’re considered "Top 10 Products for Saving Water at Home" available at your local home improvement store. To celebrate Water Awareness Month in May, local water providers and the Regional Water Authority (RWA) are partnering with Lowe’s to showcase products that can help residents use less water. These include WaterSense-labeled toilets and showerheads, rotary sprinkler nozzles, automatic hose timers and more. Water providers will be on hand to discuss these and other products, tips for saving water both inside and outside the home, as well as rebates for replacing water-wasting fixtures with newer models, on Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Lowe’s in: • Citrus Heights • Elk Grove • Folsom • Lincoln • Rancho Cordova • Roseville Remember that water is a limited resource that shouldn’t be wasted. Learn more and read the complete list of "Top 10 Products for Saving Water at Home" at BeWaterSmart.info. Disclosure: Christine Kohn is the public outreach coordinator for the Regional Water Authority.

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New Blue Thumb Blog Helps Residents Create Beautiful, Water-Efficient Landscapes

We’ve all heard the term "Green Thumb" used to describe someone with a natural skill for gardening. Now there’s a new resource for gardeners to help them develop a "Blue Thumb"–a talent for creating a beautiful, water-efficient landscape. In the Blue Thumb blog, local landscape and irrigation experts Cheryl Buckwalter of Landscape Liaisons and Vicky Bartish of EcoLandscape California share their personal and professional insights on topics such as: • Selecting and maintaining high-impact, low-fuss plants appropriate for the Sacramento region • Reading your landscape and making practical design decisions • Matching your irrigation to your soil and plant type Cheryl and Vicky also answer vexing questions on landscaping and watering submitted by readers. The Blue Thumb blog is hosted by the Regional Water Authority (RWA) in partnership with local water providers who are working to help residents use less water outdoors. With the Sacramento region’s hot, dry climate and long summer season, it’s estimated that more than 65 percent of a household’s yearly water consumption typically goes toward landscape irrigation. Of that, 30 percent is lost to overwatering or evaporation. RWA estimates that Sacramento-area residents could collectively save almost 100 gallons of water per person per day during the irrigation season (April through October) by using water wisely and eliminating water waste outdoors. That’s enough water to meet the drinking water needs of more […]

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