7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase

The 7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase will be Saturday, April 25, 2015. This Earth Day celebration, presented by the Mar Vista Community Council, seeks to empower Angelenos to adopt environmentally conscious living solutions. With many people walking or biking their tours, there is a tremendous sense of community as garden enthusiasts from throughout Southern California join our neighbors to celebrate our shared vision for a greener life

Click here to see a map of the areas we'll feature in the 2015 Showcase. We're looking for potential garden clusters now. Eligible gardens should have one or more of the following sustainability features: California native/drought tolerant plantings, edibles or water catchment systems. This is a curated show. The deadline for garden submittal is February 1, 2015.

Do you have gardens to recommend or questions about eligibility? Would you like to be on the Green Garden Showcase email list? Contact us at gardens@marvista.org. 

Did you miss the 2014 tour, or some of the gardens on it? Click here to display a Green Garden Showcase map, then follow the directions to create your own personal tour map. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF GARDEN OWNERS’ PROPERTY. View gardens from the sidewalk unless invited in. Don’t pick anything!

The Mar Vista community has an ongoing commitment to encouraging sustainability in all aspects of life. The Green Tent at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market hosts a different eco-presenter each Sunday. Every 2nd Sunday, a Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase committee member is also there. Every 4th Sunday, UCCE Master Gardeners visit The Green Tent with seeds, seedlings and advice. 

3273 Granville Ave - Cluster 3

Click here for audio description of this garden.

The homeowners have taken a DIY approach to their landscape. Their pragmatic goal was to reduce as much as possible the maintenance costs and water requirements of the yard…and do so using plants and hardscape features that would provide interesting views and habitats for wildlife.   
Succulents predominate in this landscape, which features agaves, euphorbias, and aloes, with additional California natives, salvias, and other drought tolerant plants rounding out the yard. There are currently more than thirty varieties of succulents ranging from two inch sedums to six foot euphorbias. California poppies and wildflowers have been sown throughout the slope and the easements. The landscaping also includes: salvias, mallows, ceonaothus,  rosemary, lavender, valerian, tagetes, artemisia, and butterfly bush.
This home sits on a hill that was originally covered in ivy, with the flat areas featuring sad patches of grass and a sickly, poorly maintained pine tree. The homeowners removed the ivy and sick pine tree, then started work on their new design, building the hardscape (walls, berms, drywells, patio and pond) and installing the drip irrigation and LED lighting systems. Mortarless garden walls were built along the crest of the hill and a natural rock berm was installed midway down the slope. These additions created swales to capture water as well as tiered planting beds. All rain runoff is now directed into either soil berms or drywells, such that virtually no water is draining to the street.  
This process has been on-going for several years and continues to evolve. The soil has been amended repeatedly with free mulch from the city. The homeowners also continue to use worm composting to supplement the soil. The landscaping is watered by hand with a deep soaking on average once a month.
The homeowners added a water feature in the past year as part of a water permeable flagstone patio. The water feature has been an unexpected success at attracting wildlife! Finches and hummingbirds are especially fond of it. 
Raised vegetable beds, which are just taking off, are the most recent addition.   

This yard is a work in progress. The homeowners’ aim is to landscape with nature, and let nature tell it what works with the soil and climate.

3782 Redwood Avenue - Cluster 5

Click here for audio description of this garden.

This is primarily an edible garden with raised redwood beds in both the front yard and the backyard. This homeowner is a garden designer and water conservation specialist.

The homeowners converted the front garden about 9 years ago, starting with the removal of lawn. They stopped watering it about 11 years ago and by the 3rd year the crabgrass stopped greening up so they had their gardener remove it and then waited about 4 months before deciding that an edible garden was the best use of the full sun exposure they get in the front. They added a fence when everyone said, “People will steal your food.” No one has stolen food but the fence’s open wire panels are great for climbing beans and sweet pea.

After over 9 years, the front garden redwood beds are still holding up. They’ve added a new bed to the front with growing space on top and storage space below. This bed is raised so we can still gown in that spot without disturbing the roots of the fruit trees. A water feature’s lovely sound blocks the street noise.

The back garden has been in production for 4 years. With limited full sun in the back yard it was a challenge to place the raised beds in a location where they could maximize the full sun exposure.

There are fruit trees all around the garden: Anna Apples in the front; a Dwarf Avocado, Fuji Apple and a Surinam Cherry (a tropical species that does not require a chill to produce fruit—and produces all year!) along the driveway; five varieties of fig, a finger lime and a contorted Jujube in front. The large tree in the front garden is in the manzanita family, Arbutus ‘Marina’ common name Strawberry Tree and yes, the fruit is edible. Blueberries are planted in pots and in the ground in the front along with some artichokes and capers.

They use the front parkway and pockets where there’s space to plant species that bring in bees to pollenate the edible plants: native sage, Galvesia along with Mediterranean lavenders and other ornamental flower plants fill out the year with blossoms. As they’ve added native plants and flower ornamentals, the bee population has increased. They planted fennel for the Swallowtail butterflies; the young feed on that and on the parsley in a nearby pot. When they mature they attach to the fence panel to transform into butterflies. They also have food plants for Monarchs along the driveway and in the front parkway.

The owners are often asked how much work it takes to maintain the garden. Their answer is, “Lots, but it’s time we want to spend outside so having something to do that also provides us food is something we do not consider work.”

This garden was on the first four Green Garden Showcases, then took last year off. The garden has evolved: an additional raised bed in front, automatic irrigation in the back and the addition of a play area for their new granddaughter.

The front is watered by hand,  the back has an automatic drip system designed for edible gardens. 

Turf/grass in this neighborhood uses approximately 44 inches of water per square foot per year if conditions are perfect, but with compacted soil, inefficient irrigation systems and other obstacles typical of turf it can use twice that—and most people, not knowing how much water is needed, give it three times what it needs. If you convert those 44 inches to gallons, that’s about 27 gallons per square foot .The front grass was about 600 square feet total which required over 16,000 gallon per year, in perfect condition, but over 30,000 with typical issues. Back then, they didn’t know what they were doing, so they probably gave it 50,000 gallons each year until they finally just turned off the sprinklers.

The edible garden requires about the same amount of water per planted square foot as grass, but the total square foot of planted area is much less than the carpet of grass. The owners say, “Grass gives us nothing; edible gardens are a good use of our scarce water supply.” They estimate that removing the grass cut their outdoor use of water by over 50%.

3323 Granville Ave - Cluster 3

Click here for audio description of this garden.

These homeowners replaced their lawn with drought tolerant, California friendly plants. A weather based irrigation controller monitors the underground irrigation providing a low volume drip system to conserve water. Extensive mulch as well as bioswales help retain water in this water-sipping hillside garden.

The owners received rebates of $2 a square foot for grass removal and $200 for the weather-based irrigation controller from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power! Click here to learn more about LADWP rebates and programs.

Gabriella Fladd of Stout Design Build is the landscaper.

2571 Armacost Avenue - Cluster 1

Click here for audio description of this garden.

The color and design of loose stones and rocks, the curves of the landscape and the fountain make this a special garden. Larger boulders and sitting rocks give the garden a relaxing, Zen feeling.

Re-landscaping of the front and side yards began in November 2009, with a goal of replacing all the grass with a rock-based hardscape and drought resistant garden. Their neighbor across the street (see 2564 Armacost), owner of Rose in Bloom, is the landscaper.

An attractive line of lavender and New Zealand fax and loose gravel replaces the ugly, usually dead grass that “grew” next to the driveway.

Many butterflies and hummingbirds frequent the garden. Birds love the fountains. The garden also attracts small children who like to play with the stones.

An automatic sprinkler system waters the plants twice weekly using a minimal amount of water. The house has solar panels. Two barrels collect rainwater in the back yard and the owners use an area behind the garage for composting.

The owners removed most of the lawn in the backyard—retaining a small patch for the dog—and added a dry riverbed in 2005. 

12036 Mitchell Ave - Cluster 6

Click here for audio description of this garden.

Working in the field of home design affords this garden owner an opportunity to engage in basic landscape designing on many projects. Lacking formal training, this designer generally prefers to simply try and take advantage of any and all resources available on the site after the structures are completed, often times utilizing contruction waste as a component in the landscaping (broken concrete, structural steel, and so forth).  

In the owner's own garden, the plantings are primarily odds and ends purchased locally as well as plants inherited from other projects that have been nursed back to health (or are in the recovery process of).  

The basic design concept is to base everything on whatever is readily available, while striving to respect the climate in which we are planting.  Along those lines, the owner is increasingly interested in discovering plantings which thrive in the native clay-laden soil, without the use of major amending or manipulation.  

Beyond that, the garden is essentially a rough mix of scaps, mixing and tangling and growing under the canopy of two remarkable camphor trees planted on the city right-of-way.