Several Mar Vista residents will be green with pride this month when they participate in a showcase of their gardens designed to conserve water in an environmentally-friendly fashion.
The tour, sponsored by the Mar Vista Green Committee, will take place on Sunday, April 26th, just days after Earth Day.
“Our intent was to get people inspired about green gardening,” Sherri Akers, vice-chair of the Mar Vista Community Council’s Green Committee, told The Argonaut. “We also wanted to do something for Earth Day.
“We’re really excited about the tour. It’s taken on a life of its own.”
The garden showcase has been in the planning stages for several months, and more homes will take part in the tour than were originally planned, due to the excitement that has been generated among the participants.
“We thought that we might have about 20,” said Akers. “But now, we’ve more than doubled that number.”
Albert Olson, whose home is featured on the tour, said he did not consciously plan to have a green garden when he rebuilt his home a few years ago.
“When Sherri invited me to take part in the tour, I really had not given it much thought to (installing a green garden), although I think that the concept of water conservation and green technology are very good concepts,” Olson, a vice chair of the Mar Vista Community Council, explained. “When we rebuilt our house, I decided that I did not want to have grass in my front lawn, although we do have grass in our backyard.”
There are 44 homes that will be profiled on the tour, which will cover most of Mar Vista’s neighborhoods. Each home will display specific green features that the homeowners have installed in an effort to conserve water usage, or energy through solar panels. Drought resistant, permaculture and organic edible gardens are part of the variety of distinct designs on the tour.
“We have a surprising number of people who eat from their gardens on the tour,” noted Akers, a green consultant who helps businesses develop green products.
Yvette Roman-Davis has an edible garden at her home on Pacific Avenue, and says she consumes about 80 percent of the garden’s bounty during the summer months.
Squash, tomatoes, peppers, snap peas and brusssels sprouts are some of the vegetables that she grows.
“All of our food is organic, and we have control over what we eat,” said Davis-Roman. “Having that attachment to the most basic need is something that is really profound.”
Akers has installed hardscape in her front lawn and has drought resistant plants in her back lawn.
“I wanted to have a garden that did not require watering more than once a week,” Akers said.
Katherine Spitz, a Marina del Rey-based landscape architect, has seen many gardens in Mar Vista and says that there are certain plants that are best to have for those seeking to have little or no water usage.
“I would say that California natives are best if you want a garden that you don’t have to water,” Spitz, who designs residential landscapes, recommended. “Those and other succulent plants are the best.”
Martin Rubin and his wife Joan say that they have been “going green” for several years.
“I think that’s what we were doing before it became trendy,” said Joan Rubin, whose Barry Avenue home is within the Mar Vista Community Council coverage area and is featured on the green showcase tour. “We have no grass in our back lawn because it was taking so much water, and now we’re working on our front lawn.”
When the Rubins learned about the showcase, they asked Akers if they could take part in it.
“(Having a green garden) is a mindset,” said Martin Rubin. “It’s a constant learning process where you try different things, and sometimes you find that there are things that you like better than what you’ve previously tried.”
Because Mar Vista has primarily clay soil, Spitz recommends using a tall, high canopy with filtered light for a water-conserving garden and visually pleasing landscape.
“That way, you can grow anything you want,” the landscape architect said.
Like many others on the tour, Olson decided on native plants when he replanted his front lawn.
“I wanted to do something colorful without relying on grass,” said Olson, who added that he spoke with several local nurseries regarding possible options. “I’m very happy with the way it turned out and very pleased to be a part of the tour.”
In addition to the green features to her garden, Akers’ home features solar panels.
“We think that they will pay for themselves in about ten years (with saving from energy conservation), but our motivation was the environment and saving energy,” she said.
The county Board of Supervisors obtained a $250,000 grant on April 14th that would provide more funding for a rebate program for installation of water-efficient toilets and washing machines, and a new rebate program to replace high-water-use lawns.
“As our communities combat global climate, it’s up to local governments to devise and deploy creative green solutions to reduce our carbon footprint,” said Supervisor Mark-Ridley Thomas, whose area includes Mar Vista. “But in a time of economic crisis, our green strategies must also be cost-effective.
“While the solar map is a critical tool in our collective quest to become more informed and empowered about how to live greener lives, it is important that such renewable energy upgrades are accomplished without breaking the bank,” the supervisor added. “This program will allow all property owners to finance renewable energy upgrades over the long haul through their property tax assessments, allowing residents to realize cost savings much more quickly.”
Akers said that she and other homeowners can’t wait to display their gardens and hopes that those who take the tour see how much pleasure many Mar Vista residents take and receive from their green gardens.
“I’m excited that people will get to see how passionate our community is about their gardens,” she said.