Feb. 28, 2022: Preparing for Installation

We will provide periodic updates on the process of creating two sustainable pilot sites at Hampton Bay HOA.

After finalizing the designs for the two pilot sites with the HOA, Permaculture Designer Michael Wedgley and landscaper Jerry Saitta met at the site to talk over the designs. Both sites will replace the grass with sustainable, low-maintenance, waterwise landscaping that captures rainwater and incorporates native plants.

At the larger site, Michael marked the location of the swales — in-ground trenches that will capture rainwater and roofwater from the nearby building so that the water can sink into the ground, build healthy soil and provide on-site water for the plants. The smaller pilot site will also have a swale that captures roofwater.

Jerry and Michael discussed digging the swales, plant spacing and other aspects of the project. The next step will be to begin the installation.

Large pilot site
Small pilot site

Dec. 4, 2021: Town Hall (with video)

We will provide periodic updates on the process of creating two sustainable pilot sites at Hampton Bay HOA.

The town hall with HOA members on Dec. 4 was a great opportunity for Permaculture Designer Michael Wedgley to share the proposed designs for the two pilot sites that will replace the grass with sustainable, low-maintenance, waterwise landscaping that captures rainwater and incorporates beautiful native plants and shrubs.

Hampton Bay HOA has been incorporating sustainable practices at the property, including ending the use of chemical herbicides like glyphosate several years ago and using wood chip mulch on the hillsides.

Michael highlighted how the designs for the larger site and the smaller mailbox site will look to nature as a guide, as opposed to common approaches to landscaping that have relied on indiscriminate water usage, chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and “mow and blow” maintenance. Read his talking points from the presentation here and watch the video below.

Here are some highlights:

Plants

  • The plants are planned and positioned so that they can grow to their full size without the need for constant trimming.
  • Plants in the designs serve multiple functions in the environment, including plants that pull nitrogen from the air and deposit it into the soil where it becomes more accessible to other plants.
  • Native plants are best acclimated to our wet winters and dry summers and have co-evolved in harmony with local pollinators to flower and fruit at the right times.
  • The selection of plants focused on multiple senses (how they look, their fragrance) and a small number of herbs that could be harvested and enjoyed. Multiple layers and heights of the plants make it aesthetically attractive.

Rainwater catchment

  • Capturing rainwater from the roof in basins at the larger site will give that rainwater time to sink into the soil. Multiple basins will create somewhere for the water to overflow into during larger rain storms.
  • In-ground swales (basins) will be filled with wood chips at both sites, which will act like a sponge to hold onto the rainwater until it can sink into the ground.
  • At the smaller site, a diverter will be installed that can send rainwater away from the in-ground swale during larger rain events
  • Because the sites have mostly native, low-water usage plants, they likely won’t need supplemental irrigation after a year or two

Soil

  • Michael talked about the microbes he looks for in healthy soil that help to cycle nutrients that plants need to thrive. Without this soil biology, including bacteria, nematodes, protozoa and fungi, soil cannot release those nutrients effectively to plants.
  • After Saitta’s Gardening & Landscape installs the final designs at the pilot sites, Michael will apply compost extracts to help build soil biology, which in turn will start to create the structure within the soil that will allow it to hold more water and better support plants.
  • Wood chips on top of the soil will protect it from compaction from rain and break down over time to improve the soil.
  • Read Michael’s informative paper on Growing Healthier Plants and Ecosystems Regeneratively with Biology here

The hope is that these concepts from the two pilot sites will provide ideas that can be incorporated in later phases that will replace large lawn areas in the HOA. This will make Hampton Bay HOA a model for how other HOAs could do landscaping and conserve water.

Meet Designer Michael Wedgley

Michael Wedgley is creating the designs for both of the pilot sites at Hampton Bay HOA, and will be working with the HOA’s landscaping company to coordinate the installation of the designs. Michael will also build the soil biology of the sites to create healthier, more lush environments in which the plants can thrive.

Michael is a Bay Area native and a Permaculture Designer who specializes in edible and native landscapes, as well as applied microbiology for the elimination of pesticides and fertilizers. He is a certified Soil Foodweb Lab Technician assessing the microbiome of soils to help growers and gardeners understand the biological needs of their soil, and operates under the business name Soilogical BioSolutions and Designs.

He also is the founder of the nonprofit organization Transformative Soil and Landscapes, which operates primarily in Contra Costa County and organizes the community around installing regenerative food forests in people’s yards and in community gardens. His love for nature and food are often brought together in residential homes to help people design their landscapes into foodscapes that provide the best quality food available while integrating rainwater catchment, aesthetics, nature, and biology.

The photos in the slideshow below reflect how Michael’s design work and focus on healthy soil can create a thriving ecosystem in a garden design that attracts and celebrates pollinators. (Photos of this garden in Martinez provided courtesy of Gina Casey of GMC Photography and Video)

Sustainable Landscaping Examples

We will provide periodic updates on the process of creating two sustainable pilot sites at Hampton Bay HOA.

Explore different sustainable garden landscapes by scrolling through the photos below. While some of these focus more on edible landscaping, a sustainable approach can be use to create a variety of landscapes, including beautiful pollinator habitat as planned for Hampton Bay HOA’s pilot sites.

Find more examples on the Solano Sustainable Backyards page.

Nov. 9, 2021: Site Assessment Visit

We will provide periodic updates on the process of creating two sustainable pilot sites at Hampton Bay HOA.

This site assessment visit was an opportunity for the Hampton Bay landscaping committee and landscaper Jerry Saitta to meet with designer Michael Wedgley and observe the two sites selected for the pilot projects.

This meeting was the precursor to the initial design and a good way to determine the desires of the HOA members and the needs of the site for swales, plant selection, etc.

The visit involved touring the property, learning about the HOA’s phase 1 landscaping changes and the process for phase 2. Some time was spent examining downspouts to gauge the possibility of capturing rainwater to feed into swales (in-ground trenches that capture and sink rainwater), and discussing some possible plants and design elements.

The next step will be a town hall meeting on Dec. 4 to go over the initial plan and talk about the benefits of this approach to landscaping.