Archive for the ‘Greg Van Trump’ Category

by Greg Van Trump

Registration is still open for the 2013 Marin-Friendly Garden Tour, scheduled for Saturday, May 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It only takes a minute to sign up using our online registration system, and there’s no charge to attend! We hope you can join us.

The 2013 tour features nine inspiring gardens that showcase a variety of environmentally friendly practices, ranging from conserving water to creating wildlife habitat. Here’s a sneak preview of one of the gardens on this year’s tour.

Marin-Friendly Garden Tour

Photo courtesy of David Long

To find California native species in a garden is fairly common in Marin, but a garden planted entirely with California natives is an exciting and rare find. Sectioned into riparian, woodland, meadow and chaparral plant communities, this hillside garden offers an easy way to experience a variety of native plant species at one convenient location. As you stroll along the crushed lava rock path that leads through the property, you will pass through riparian and woodland habitats, complete with a dry creek bed wandering down the side of the house and then exiting under two volunteer California live oaks. The path continues through a sedge transition meadow then across a dry meadow featuring drought-tolerant grasses, perennials, a variety of annual wildflowers and showy red and pink clarkias. Don’t worry if you are not keen on plant identification as nearly all the plants are labeled. And finally, a variety of chaparral species rounds out this wonderful exhibit of California natives. The dry meadow, chaparral and hedgerow areas are no longer watered, flourishing only on rainfall provided by Mother Nature. This garden is certified by the National Wildlife Federation as a Wildlife Habitat Garden and by the Bay-Friendly Coalition.

Consider planning your visit to this garden around noon, when the property owner will discuss “Gardening with California Natives”—one of three free garden talks included as part of the tour.

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by Greg Van Trump

The Marin Municipal Water District is offering a self-study Qualified Water Efficient Landscaper (QWEL) exam this Saturday, October 16, allowing landscapers to attain QWEL designation without attending the 12-week QWEL training class. Participants MUST pass the QWEL exam and conduct an irrigation system audit on their own using the QWEL irrigation audit forms. For your convenience we are offering an Assisted Irrigation Audit on Saturday just before the exam. See the exam registration schedule below for details. Once you are registered, study materials and the irrigation audit form will be emailed to you.

QWEL designation has two requirements:
1. Passing a 120 question multiple-choice exam.
2. Completing and passing an irrigation system audit.

The QWEL exam schedule is as follows:

Date: Saturday, October 16, 2010
Optional Assisted Irrigation Audit: 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Exam: 10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: College of Marin – Indian Valley Campus, Miwok Room 214, 1800 Ignacio Blvd., Novato

To register call the Marin Municipal Water District at (415) 945-1512 or e-mail gvantrump@marinwater.org. Please provide the following information in your phone message or e-mail:

a. Your name
b. Company name
c. Mailing address
d. Contact email
e. Contact phone

Once you are registered you will receive a registration confirmation email with location details. The exam study guide and the irrigation audit form will also be sent to you.

There are no exam fees. Please bring a pencil and calculator. Parking passes can be purchased from parking permit machines located in each parking lot. MMWD will not provide parking passes.

MMWD reserves the right to change or cancel any event.

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by Greg Van Trump

Recent rainfall has delayed the watering season a bit, but with warmer days expected, now is a good time to inspect your irrigation system. It’s simple to do and only takes a few minutes for each watering zone. Just manually turn on each station, walk through the zone, identify any problems, then schedule your landscaper (or spouse) to fix them.

A very common problem found in spray systems is blocked spray heads, caused when plant material grows too high for sprayers to reach over. The fix may be as easy as mowing the lawn more frequently or pruning foliage around the sprayers, or it may require moving a plant located too close to sprayers.

Another common problem is tilted sprayers. In an efficient irrigation system, all spray heads are perpendicular to grade, so they apply water evenly over the area. A tilted spray head will create wet and dry spots because the side tilted up disperses water high into the air, creating a dry area, while the other side shoots water straight into the soil, creating a small flood. This condition also applies to rotors, micro sprayers or any other type of overhead irrigation. Tilted heads are easy to identify and often only require a quick dig around them to straighten.

Drip systems are generally more efficient than spray systems, but maintenance is often deferred since they are tucked under plants and mulch and are easy to forget. Even though you may be used to seeing small geysers springing up where drip emitters once were, or rivers emerging where a shovel has cut a drip hose, believe me, a drip system is not a backyard water feature. Identify the problems, grab a handful of drippers and some “goof plugs” to fix any goof-ups, and fix those leaks.

While you’re at your timer don’t forget to evaluate it, too. Use your timer’s programs to schedule watering of different zones at different intervals according to water needs or microclimates. Plants in part or full shade can be scheduled less frequently than the same types in full sun. Ideally all plants in each zone will have similar water needs. If not, you may need to do more relocating. Also, check that the backup battery is not dead—many timers will erase all programming if they lose power because of a dead battery.

And remember, MMWD offers free water use consultations for our customers through our Conservation Assistance Program (CAP). We’ll evaluate your indoor water use and walk through your landscape irrigation system and timer with you. Just call 945-1523 to schedule an appointment.

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