11409 Charnock Road

The FLOWER to the PEOPLE garden is a work in progress. Drive by now to see the before (pictured above) – come the day of the tour to see the transformation! If you are ready to pull out your turf, this garden is a must see.

On March 21st, in anticipation of tabling at the Garden Showcase, Surfrider Foundation Volunteers are going to help transform this garden into an Ocean Friendly Garden, demonstrating the principles of CPR: Conservation, Permeability, and Retention through the installation of a rainbarrel, a downspout disconnect into a raingarden area including a small cistern/pond, nasty turf removal, berming, planting native plants, and mulching.

After purchasing the house three years ago, the first order of business was to sheet compost the front yard. They covered it in the IKEA cardboard boxes in which their kitchen components arrived, and covered that with 10 yards of natural wood chip and leaf mulch. The neighbors knew they were crazy when they began burying their compost in the front yard and invited everyone to join in. Their next door neighbor contributed grass clippings from her yard – it looked like Dogpatch for about 2 years. They were just too busy with our sustainable landscape design business that we didn’t have time to work on our own garden.

Last year they cut away about 25% of the driveway, providing added sunny garden space and allowing them to manage the runoff from the hardscape surfaces. Since the garage has been converted into an office, they decided that it was stupid to devote so much precious garden space to a concrete strip that would never again be used for an automobile.

A couple months ago, they received a phone call from a prospective client who had found the address on their website and had driven by the property. The woman said that she was sad that it seemed they’ed abandoned their home, and hoped that they had not had serious misery befall them. That was a wake-up call!

This past year they have really focused on spraying compost tea and building up the soil microbial activity to hold on to as much water as possible throughout the year.

They’re looking forward to using water from their rainbarrels and small cistern to water the vegetable garden. Since the rain has been plentiful this year, they are optimistic that they’ve banked enough of it in the main garden’s healthy soil to get them into the summer months. After that, nature will tell them whether or not they need to replace the weak ones – nature’s brutal!

They have many fruit trees, including a couple climate-appropriate ones such as Jujube (Ziziphus mauritiana), and native ones like Catalina cherry (Prunus ilicifolia ‘lyonii’) and Elderberry (Sambucus mexicanus). Since the space is small, they have had to get creative by putting them into large containers or espaliered on walls.

They are daily visited by a cloud of titmice (that’ a bird) and the local cooper’s hawk is never far afield. Butterflies find the asclepias ‘Family Jewels’ most interesting, and so do the neighbors.

They hope you’ll visit them during the tour and experience how Southern Californians can restore their urban watersheds by turning their yards into Ocean Friendly Gardens.