Local Robotics Youth Team Up with MPWD

The Mid-Peninsula Water District (MPWD) has teamed up with the Rocky Rapids Robotics Team to support their research on lawn replacement and water conservation with hydrozoning and xeriscaping. Below is their preliminary research report that includes six recommendations to accompany implementation of your Lawn Be Gone project. For further information on the Rocky Rapids Robotics Team project or other community outreach programs, please contact Administrative Specialist Jeanette Kalabolas (pictured at right with the robotics team) at jeanettek@midpeninsulawater.org


THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN REPLACING LAWN
WITH DROUGHT RESISTANT LANDSCAPE

Prepared for the Mid-Peninsula Water District by Jonathan Hagen, Colton Lum, Cyrus Patel, and Cayden Tu

Recommendations include:

  1. Improve the soil
  2. Hydro-zoning or xeriscaping
  3. Select drought tolerant plants-no invasive species
  4. Mulch properly
  5. Update your irrigation system for efficiency including drip irrigation vs. pop up sprinklers, water at night, tighten faucets
  6. Avoid runoff to prevent weeds and sitting water to prevent mosquitos

Introduction: Lawn Be Gone! Program

Replace your traditional lawn with a modern landscape that includes different plants, flowers, and landscape elements. The result will be an exciting and stylish landscape that is easy to maintain, conserves water, and provides long-term benefits to you and the environment. Rebate amount is from $1.00 to $4.00 per square foot.

1. Improve your soil
Conduct a soil test so you know good your soil is and whether it will need aeration or nutrients. Purchase a soil PH meter to perform your own testing. You will need to understand what type of soil you have. Is the soil sandy? Is the soil compacted clay? If the soil is too wet or too dry, add organic matter to improve your soil so it will hold moisture better and support your plants. Choose your plants that are suitable for your soil conditions. It is very important to terrace a slope or if you are planting on a slope make sure it slopes away from your house.

2. Hydro-zoning or xeriscaping your landscape
Hydro-zoning is planning your landscaping design based on organizing groups of plants together that have the same water, soil and sun exposure needs. Xeriscaping comes from the Greek word 'xeros', meaning dry, and the word 'landscape' and it is when you design the landscape based on plants that do well in your local climate. Try to plant groups of plants together that need the same amount of water and sunlight so the irrigation system you use can be efficient. We have listed a number oflocal plants you should consider in the next section, especially the drought resistant grass mixes . It is very important to look at how your house sits and where is the sun's exposure throughout the day. A southern or western side of your house will get the most sun and will be the most dry. Also, pay attention to your house's slope because it will affect water runoff and erosion so you don't want to have pop up sprinklers on a slope.

3. Drought resistant plants
Here is a list of some drought resistant plants for gardens on the west coast. Even when the rain and watering stops, these plants say the show must go on. They are sure to survive dry conditions while adding color and texture to your garden.

Some favorites in California and that we have in our local nurseries are Lavender, Lantana, and California Poppy.

Invasive plants are plants that grow rapidly and can cause damage to the environment that are not native to a specific location. There are thousands of invasive plant species, whether they are only a tiny bit invasive, or a danger to your whole garden. However, I will only be showing you the most commonly sold ones. The first commonly sold invasive plant species is big periwinkle. You may or may not heard of this plant, but this plant grows rampantly with root masses that reach many feet into the ground. This creates an environment where it dominates other plants. Secondly, another invasive plant species is pampas grass which is a quickly growing grass that forms humongous clumps along open areas or river banks. They produce millions of seed and can go out-of-hand because it can survive frost, sunlight, and even drought. Finally, the last invasive plant species is fountain grass. This is very commonly found where many people see it every day. It is tough, becomes extremely flammable when dried, and displaces their seed which land up in animal's habitats, preventing the animal from making their home there. In conclusion, invasive plant species have to go and these are just some examples of them:

http://www.sanluisobispo.com/living/home-garden/article39158250.html

http://www.suscon.org/pdfs/news/pdfs/IPM_News_Invasive%20Plants_Sold_in_California_June%202012.pdf

https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Plants/Dont-Plant-Me/Pampas-Grass

https://grownatives.cnps.org/2012/09/26/why-the-fountain-grass-must-go

4. Mulch properly

Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of soil that keeps the soil moist, keeps out weeds, and makes your garden look nice if done correctly. Usually, mulch is natural, like bark chips or leaves, but sometimes it is artificial like plastic or cardboard. Some common types of recommended mulch are: bark, compost, manure, grass clippings, shredded leaves, straw /hay, peat moss, gravel, stone, cardboard, newspaper and landscape fabric.

5. Watering / drip irrigation
When deciding which kind of watering system to use, it is important to consider the area needed to be watered and the kinds of plants. For reliable watering of large areas, sprinklers are good. Drip Systems or drip irrigation is usually the most efficient and saves the most water. Traditional sprinklers spray water over large areas. Drip systems 'drip' water to specific areas and specific plants. The result is well watered plants, using less water than a traditional sprinkler. Hand watering can be even more efficient because you can pick specific plants to water and also pick how often you water based on the plants needs and the weather. A few examples of hand watering are soaker hoses, nose end nozzles, or bubblers.

6. Avoid runoff to prevent weeds and sitting water to prevent mosquitos
Excess runoff of water is obviously bad simply because of the waste of water, but there are two additional reasons why it should be avoided. In many environments, excess water can lead to unwanted weed growth in many nearby areas. Additionally, the primary breeding habitat for mosquitoes is stagnant or shallow pools of water that exist for at least 7 days and/or aquatic sites with dense floating vegetation regardless of the water depth. Excess water runoff can easily create those types of environments, thereby creating opportunities for mosquitoes to grow.

Bibliography:

https://www.expertise.com/landscaping/xeriscaping-drought-tolerant-landscaping

http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/7-steps-drought-tolerant-landscape/

https://www.landscapingnetwork.com/xeriscape-landscaping/cost.html

http://www.xeriscapes.net/xeriscape-principles/soil