A Living Memorial and a Model for Community Engagement

MLK Blvd. in South L.A., 1990 and 2008

On January 15, 1990, three thousand people came out to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by planting 400 trees along the entire length of MLK Boulevard in South Los Angeles–seven miles in a single day. At this event, organized by TreePeople, each tree was named in memory of someone, and then adopted by a neighboring resident committed to its ongoing care. The result is the largest living monument to Dr. King in existence.

The idea for this monument came from a TreePeople Citizen Forester named Eudora Russell, who for years had dreamed of turning the barren stretch of King Boulevard into a fitting memorial to its namesake.… Read more >>

Two Native Plants for Your Southern California Garden

Photo courtesy of weedingwildsuburbia.com

Now is a perfect time to grow your garden green. While other parts of the world are snow-covered and frigid, Southern California’s mild, wet winters make this season ideal for planting climate-friendly natives that provide habitat for our native fauna. Here are two beautiful California evergreen shrubs to check out and add to your weekend plans.

Twin Peaks 2 Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis; native evergreen shrub; 3’ tall by 8’ wide; full sun)

This shrub makes a great undulating groundcover.… Read more >>

A Native Re-Greening for TreePeople’s Cistern

Photo: Andy Lipkis

Park operations director Jim Hardie calls it the “grasscrete circle”—also known as the TreePeople cistern, a 216,000-gallon underground storage tank, where we save rainwater filtered and collected from rooftops and the Parking Grove. The stored water irrigates TreePeople’s grounds in the warm months. For the past four years, the circle has been planted with wildflowers, which look gorgeous but require regular weeding. Jim is excited about a low-maintenance alternative called purple needlegrass or Stipa pulchra or Nassala pulchra—the official state grass of California!… Read more >>

The Soil Solution

Soil is the key to life in the urban forest

Soil is as vital to environmental health as the plants that grow in it. If you watched the latest Ken Burns documentary, The Dust Bowl, or if your forebears settled in California because they had to flee the ruined soil of the Midwest, then you know what Burns means by “the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.” It was a swift, government-encouraged depletion of previously fertile cropland, where nature and people had once cooperated fairly well.

Likewise, when we pave every patch of green in our cities, we undo the perfect systems that nature takes so long to create.… Read more >>

LEARN HOW TO MAKE EVERY DROP COUNT

Rain barrel in a home garden

Did you know unfiltered storm water runoff is the number one pollutant in our coastal waters? And in one inch of rainfall, that parched Los Angeles throws away 7.6 BILLION gallons of water into the storm drains? On Saturday, November 17 at 4 PM join me at the DIY stage at the Green Festival where I’ll be teaching how to harvest that precious rainwater with simple at-home projects, like installing a rain barrel, that will make your landscape more sustainable.… Read more >>

“Cash for Grass” is back in L.A. – Rip up your grass and get some green

grasss

In L.A., over half of our drinking water goes to water our lawns. Shifting to more climate appropriate plants can save up to 85% of outdoor water use. Now the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Residential Turf Removal program will pay you $1.50 for every square foot of turf you remove. Plan your landscape transformation carefully, and the rebate could completely off-set your costs to replant with California-friendly flowers, grasses, shrubs and trees!… Read more >>