Published February 19, 2008
Volume 16, Number 2

Bay-Friendly Garden Tour Highlights Low-Impact Landscaping Techniques  

There’s nothing like a stroll through a blooming garden to lift the spirits and brighten the day. But the same floral spectacle that so nurtures the soul might not be as healthy for the environment.

Many of today’s landscaping practices actually intensify the human ecological footprint, rather than lightening the load. Watering, mowing, the application of pesticides--these all take their toll, whether it’s depleting the soil, consuming valuable resources, or adding waste or pollution. That doesn’t mean that you have to stop gardening to be environmentally friendly, far from it. A shift to “Bay-Friendly” techniques will align green thumbs with green expectations.

What is Bay-Friendly gardening? According to the county agency StopWaste.Org, it’s “a holistic approach to gardening and landscaping that works in harmony with the natural conditions of the San Francisco Bay Watershed.” That translates into real-life measures like recycling and reducing waste; promoting healthy soils while cutting down on fertilizer; conserving water, energy, and topsoil; using integrated pest management to minimize the need for chemicals; decreasing stormwater runoff; and creating wildlife habitat.

On Sunday, April 27, more than 30 of the gardens being cultivated according to these principles will be on display as part of  StopWaste.Org’s Bay-Friendly Garden Tour. While it’s billed as the fifth annual event, this year’s tour sports a significant distinction: one-third of all the gardens are in eastern Alameda County—Pleasanton, Dublin, and Livermore.

“We rotate gardens every year throughout the county,” says Lawrence Grodeska, program support specialist. “This year we’re starting to see more bay-friendly practices in the eastern side of the county. It’s exciting to see our message spread beyond the hot spots in Berkeley and Oakland.

“We’re encouraging people to learn more about how to work with the nature around us and plant gardens in tune with the Bay Area ecosystem,” he continues. “The tour showcases many different approaches--edible gardening, features to encourage animals and insect species, butterfly gardens.”

For a sneak preview of this year’s tour stops, go online to bayfriendly.org/gardentour. The April 27 event, which runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., is free, but advance registration by April 15 is required.

StopWaste.Org is also hosting the first Bay-Friendly Landscaping & Gardening Conference on Friday, February 29, on the UC Berkeley campus. Targeted primarily at landscape professionals and advanced home gardeners, the all-day conference will offer educational sessions on residential rainwater collection, mulching for weed control, water and soil conservation, composting, erosion control, and more. 

More details on the conference, as well as information about the full gamut of StopWaste.Org programs for resource management and waste reduction in the workplace, visit stopwaste.org. or call (510) 891-6500. 

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