July 6, 2015 § 1 Comment
The L.A. Department of Water & Power and the Metropolitan Water District will pay you to get rid of it: $3.75 per square foot for the first 1,500 sq. ft, then $2 up to the maximum 3,000 sq. ft. A good deal for home owners and landlords who are tired of paying $4.83 for every hundred cubic feet of water (~750 gallons) to keep lawns green.
The one condition attached to the California Friendly® Landscape Incentive Program (yes, they’ve trademarked the term): Turf should be replaced with “water wise landscaping features.” Examples given are California-friendly plants, mulch, and permeable pathways. I’ve previously featured two exemplary Silverlake sites (here and here), completed when the rebate was a mere $1.50 per sq. ft.
Now comes Silverlake’s latest low-water entry: this multi-family dwelling on Armstrong Avenue. Its owner will get the rebate, I suppose, because the new landscaping technically meets the program’s requirements. It’s permeable and a rock lawn doesn’t need to be watered.
But a rock pile hardly adheres to the spirit of “California Friendly.” Water wise plants not only use little water, they convert the sun’s rays into self-nourishment and exchange CO2 –the dominant greenhouse gas–for oxygen.
Instead of lowering temperatures as plants would, these rocks will absorb summer’s heat and radiate it long into the night, keeping ambient temperatures high. And unless these are very special rocks, they’re not going to supply us with oxygen.
Gentle Reader, let design-impaired neighbors know that if they want to conserve water, they can simply turn off their sprinklers. Tell them you’re okay with a brown lawn, which will, after all, revive during the next rainy season.
Even Ezekiel, however, could not revive this pile of dry rocks.
April 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
. . . whatever happened to the birds that used to live on the west side of Silverlake reservoir, where Moreno curves east to meet Silverlake Blvd. West?
A sizable hen house and fenced yard once occupied the now empty space beneath this bougainvillea arbor. Five or six years ago, it was the first urban chicken ranch I had ever encountered. A sign announced the property as a registered “backyard wildlife habitat.”
I was so intrigued and spent so much time prowling about on that first visit that a resident (human, not fowl) raced from the adjacent house to inquire about my intentions. Apparently satisfied that my interest was harmless, he gestured towards the luxuriously large terraced yard beyond this fence and declared it to be the future home of an organic, urban farm. And vegetables were indeed growing there for the next several years.
I hadn’t passed that way for at least six months, however, and in my absence not only the hens but any trace of their home disappeared. The gardens lie fallow and the habitat sign has been removed.
I miss the chickens; even more I regret the loss of a site that pushed back urban constrictions and brought a bit of country life into the city. Asphalt, glass, and steel make our lives easier, but chickens remind us that we’re earth creatures like them, rooted in soil, air, and sunlight. That’s a service even better than eggs.
March 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
Chickens are so entertaining.
The Micheltorena School community garden is home to a hen house and eight birds. I stop by and marvel every time I’m in the neighborhood.
This being Silverlake, their shelter is no run-0f-the-mill shed but a redwood home with architectural flair.
This curious hen wondered what I was up to.
Not much, birdie. Just enjoying your company.