The Dry Garden: Landmark book for California

Until now, there was always one sure way to tell whether or not you had hired the right landscape designer or architect for a job in California. The right one had a copy of Bob Perry’s 1992 book “Landscape Plants for Western Regions,” which was used so often that it occupied the passenger seat of his or her truck. That criterion changed this week. After eighteen years, Perry has finally produced a successor volume: “Landscape Plants for California Gardens.” For those of you worried about how to comply with the water budgets prescribed in last year’s Assembly Bill 1881, Perry gives the evapotranspiration rates not just for thousands of plants, but also correlates them for every California climate zone. He looks at water efficiency of irrigation systems. And, the reason landscapers loved him, after grouping plants by palette, he conclusively links those palette groups back to their water budgets.

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Workshops explain new statewide landscape irrigation ordinance

Use of lawn will be reduced indirectly in AB 1881 by a reduction in allowed evapotranspiration rates. Photo: Florian's photostream on Flickr.

CALIFORNIA’S new ordinance on water use in landscapes, AB 1881, became law in September. Counties and cities will be required to comply with it, or stricter local standards, by January 1, 2010. Starting tomorrow (Tuesday October 20th) in Los Angeles, Wednesday in San Diego and Thursday in Chino, workshops will be held around the state to explain what this involves. Click here for details and a state-wide schedule, along with information on how to register by e-mail. Admission is free.


Is AB 1881 Too Wet?

Call Bob Galbreath a drip, and he’ll thank you. The recently retired Outdoor Water Resource Specialist for the City of Santa Monica is Southern California’s pre-eminent expert on drip irrigation. In April 2008, Santa Monica passed its own version of AB 1881, and so I sought out his opinion on what the California Department of Water Resources is proposing as the state-wide irrigation water use standards for 2010.

Not a blogger (or a blowhard) by nature, Galbreath took the plunge and  posted a response about AB 1881. It is a picture of polite skepticism, largely to do with the hopelessness of enforcing the regulations. He also directed me to some key differences between the upcoming statewide model and the one already in force in Santa Monica: The Santa Monica code applies to all landscapes in the city, and restricts the precipitation rate of all irrigation devices to 0.75”/hr, which excludes …

California AB 1881 in bullet points

UPDATE: 2/19/2010: The new book, Landscape Plants for California Gardens by Cal Poly Pomona professor Bob Perry, gives thorough descriptions for 2,100 landscape plants, their ET budgets, run downs on irrigation system efficiency needed to satisfy those budgets, and then links them all back by plant palette and climate zone groupings — for every climate zone in the state. For information on the major new book for professional landscape designers and architects as well as advanced home gardeners, click here.

UPDATE: 9/22/2009 — California’s Updated Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance AB1881 was approved by the Office of Administrative Law on September 10, 2009. For a link to the announcement from the California Department of Water Resources, click here.

For a bullet point guide to it, done with help from Julie Ann Saare-Edmonds of the Landscape Program, Office of Water Use Efficiency, California Department of Water Resources, read 

Blow hard, blow now, just don’t mow and blow: Second Comment Period opens on Modified AB 1881

California landscapers and other interested parties have until 5pm on May 26 to submit comments on an updated and modified version of the Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance AB 1881.