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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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.