Long ago in Long Beach, the story of a garden started with a perky bungalow home and the requisite stretch of green, green grass. This old story was dependent upon unlimited sources of drinking water to keep the grass green, and completely ignored the chapters about planting native habitat, restoring living soil, and holding on to as much stormwater as possible so it wouldn’t runoff and pollute the ocean.
Fortunately, the owners of this property are ready for the new tale told by Surfriders’ Ocean Friendly Gardens Program; and they have invited the Long Beach Surfrider Chapter, G3, friends, family, and other interested parties to join them in turning the page on their front yard landscaping. While taking advantage of the City of Long Beach’s Lawn-to-Garden Incentive Program, these homeowners also want to qualify for the Surfrider OFG Yard Sign.
By the time G3′s Pamela Berstler met with the homeowners, Ananda Lee, Surfrider Long Beach Chapter OFG Committee volunteer, and Paul Herzog, Surfider’s National OFG Coordinator, to plan the upcoming OFG Workday, the warm season turf grass and most of the other thirsty vegetation had been removed. Pamela refined the garden plan created by the homeowner, and laid out the main elements of the new garden, including three pathways – two less permeable, decomposed granite pathways and one permeable recycled concrete walkway to the front door.
The downspouts were located and plans were made to redirect them into a slightly excavated garden area flanked by smooth berms created from the soil removed to make the pathways and water catchment area. The front yard will be shaped like a bowl, ready to receive the water from the roof and provide it to the California native and mediterranean plants of the new garden long past the last rainfall of the season. This sponge-like soil is created by removing most of the turf roots and sheet composting.
Long Beach soil is predominately sandy or sandy-loam, but is still compacted beneath fifty years of fertilized and over-watered turf grass. Sheet composting allows the soil biology to be restored without taking too many invasive measures.
Pamela discussed with the homeowners and Ananda some alternatives for pathway materials and the procedure for redirecting the downspout and converting the existing spray irrigation system to drip irrigation. The homeowners will supply the final plan, acquire the materials, provide some food and beverage for volunteers, and recruit friends and family to help out during the Surfrider Ocean Friendly Gardens Volunteer Workday, Saturday, April 10th 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.