The mayor’s record on water conservation

The water conservation achievements of LA's outgoing mayor have been the subject of hyperbole, however there have been impressive savings. Since 2007, water consumption in the City of Angeles has dropped by 17.58%.

The fourth option

Choices are best understood by those who make them. In the case of the decision about where to unveil schematic drawings of what new landscaping around Los Angeles City Hall might look like after last year’s Occupation, it may only be comprehensible to city hall’s caretakers at the Department of Recreation and Parks. Choosing last night’s meeting of the Los Angeles Downtown Neighborhood Council was, procedurally, rather like the federal government unveiling new plans for the White House grounds at a meeting of a DC neighborhood association.

LA supports 15 council districts and an estimated 90-plus neighborhood councils. An internationally recognizable symbol for most of the city’s 500 square mile reach could be a gushing lawn sprinkler. Depending on the location from cool coastal spots to hot valleys and foothills, from 40 to 70 per cent of our largely imported water is used outdoors. How fast and how seriously

Full metal garden


To harvest rain from your roof for the garden, first you have to catch it. This requires gutters. Gutters are by no means universal appurtenances. Some home styles, such as Craftsman, Spanish and Colonial lend themselves so happily to gutters that they usually come with them. The rolled metal amounts to jewelry around the eaves.

However, put the same gutters on a modern home and you have a problem. The handsomeness of the structure is often defined by the lines of the roof and eaves. Gutters look dumpy; downspouts amount to vandalism.

The upshot? To those of us who live in midcentury homes and want to practice water conservation, the question of whether or not to put up gutters can feel like a choice between looking good or being good.

Click here to keep reading part one on capturing rain in the Los Angeles Times and here for part

The Dry Garden: Lawn killer’s tip sheet

Photo credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times

Most of us know that the environmental toll of ornamental lawn in Southern California makes cigarettes look politically correct. Still, removing a long-tended home lawn takes a meeting of conviction and know-how. The steely inspiration will have to be yours. This column is intended only as a lawn killer’s tip sheet.

Click here to keep reading about graminicide in the Los Angeles Times.

A decade of change

I had the honor this week of being a guest speaker before both the California Native Plant Society and Lili Singer’s Garden Talk audience at the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. The subject: A decade of gardening, during which time I took my 8,000 square foot lot near downtown Los Angeles from a conventional turf & mow model to a Mediterranean climate/native garden that runs largely on local rainfall and sees power tools only every two years during pruning season. This photo essay captures that progression. My apologies to the CNPS audience, who last Sunday endured a PowerPoint failure. Here, belatedly, are the images. My thanks to Steve Hartman of CNPS, Lili Singer of the Theodore Payne Foundation and Jill Berry, Ted Tegart and Cynthia Vargas of the Arboretum for challenging me to put together this photo diary, then helping it come together. To see the full photo

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