SHOWCASE CENTRAL - you can pick up maps here, sign up for notification for next year's tour and get tips for taking the tour!TreePeople will be there with information about rain barrel installation and maintenance, and how to help your trees survive the drought. You can also meet representatives from the Mar Vista Community Council, the Green Committee and the Mar Vista Chamber of Commerce, and sign a petition to bring a California Friendly Landscape Training class to Mar Vista.
This homeowner always wanted a beautiful and inviting yard with bountiful fruit trees, vegetables and flower gardens. The original property, purchased in 1996, was a messy half acre which included a guest house built in 1924 and a ranch style house built in 1965 - shag carpets and all.
The property had beautiful palm trees with large aloe vera plants and Birds of Paradise in the front area with a “tropical” feel, a few fruit trees by the guest house and a huge St. Augustine lawn with a working irrigation system.
The current owner planted more fruit trees and enjoyed the lawn until it was destroyed during two years of remodeling. After several failed efforts to restore the lawn, the irrigation was turned off and the lawn forgotten.
Meanwhile, the owner used the Do-It-Yourself approach and improved the yards as time and energy permitted. A level back patio of permeable pavers was installed, as well as in the front yard (the owner's "spot") and a small retaining wall added in front to address the slope of the yard. Broken concrete creates pathways in the front and back of the house.
The owner’s son, Jesse (a graduate of UC Santa Cruz in environmental studies where he was the assistant manager of the University farm), roto-tilled the large lawn area, laid out footpaths and planting beds and together they started a large organic vegetable garden from seeds and a few purchased plants, including bare root grapes.
They also planted flowers and shrubs that enhanced the beauty of the yard, added color and fragrance and attracted bees and butterflies to the property. The first summer brought an abundant harvest of fresh tomatoes, corn, sunflowers, basil, beets, beans and wildflowers.
Jesse also fenced off the orchard area to provide a large free range area for chickens that not only produce fresh eggs daily, but also help provide insect and weed control in that area.
Ice plant and compost help to replenish areas that still show damage from the earlier remodel. Hand watering as needed is now the only source of irrigation.
The owner's favorite garden features are her "spot," a small area tucked away in the front yard with a table and chairs for entertaining friends and admiring the yards, and her chicken, Heniella, who now free-ranges throughout the yard. Heniella’s companion, Cindy, was unfortunately killed by a possum or raccoon last year. A variety of birds visit daily, among the squirrels, butterflies and bees. A few milkweed plants resulting in several monarch butterflies.
The gardens were neglected last year because of the drought, which stressed several plants making them vulnerable to insects. The garden owner is fighting the aphids and scale with insecticidal soap, which has helped to improve the health of these plants.
Seeds are just beginning to come up, so it remains to be seen how this year’s harvest will be. So far, they have planted sunflowers, corn, tomatoes, beans, purple potatoes (from potato eyes), and lavenders. Leafy greens will be going in soon. “Volunteers” - tomatoes and eggplant, are coming up from last year’s seed droppings.