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Boulder Green Homes Tour – September 24, 2016

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Green and Sustainable are two words that get tossed around the market place, abstractly and ad nauseam.  But what if you had the chance to see those words in action, fully manifested, with measurable metrics to prove it?  What better place to start, then right at home?  Take a peak into some of the most innovative green building homes around Boulder, by signing up for this self-guided tour happening on Saturday, Sept. 24th.  The tour is put on by the Colorado Green Building Guild, a non-profit trade organization representing a wide range of green building leaders, that strives to promote the collaborative exchange of ideas on green building in the community.

From modern to traditional, from remodels to multi-family projects, see how these Boulder area homes became more energy efficient with less impact on human health and the environment.   The family residence of Bill Melvin, Ecoscape’s founder and managing director, will be included on the tour as well.  Tickets are only $15 and CGBC is donating 10% of their proceeds to Flatirons Habitat for Humanity’s local projects.  The tour will happen rain or shine, 10am to 4pm (last tour starts at 3:30).  Be sure to attend the After Party & Vendor Fair from 3:30 -5:30, where you’ll have the chance to talk with the architects, contractors, and vendors who are out on the leading edge putting real-time green and sustainable solutions into the home and garden.

 

Thinking about growing LESS grass this season?

Folks, turf grass is not the enemy.  Shocking I know, since every eco-gardener these days says grass is public enemy number one….but it’s all about perspective.  Swearingen Perennial bed (small)

It’s best to think of turf as a ground cover plant that holds the soil in place and makes a great place to play & roll around.  But like anything, too much of a good thing can be bad.  Acres of maintained and irrigated turf is a monoculture and doesn’t supply a diversity of food for pollinators, insects, birds, or animals.  Conventionally grown turf also means there is a heavy synthetic chemical burden to the local soil ecology and area watersheds (think run-off from chemical fertilizers and herbicide applications).  So that bad rap is true.  Bad, bad grass.

In Colorado however, we do have several drought tolerant turf choices that are way more reasonable then Kentucky bluegrass with water demands.  And with an organic lawn care protocol and best cultural practices, it is possible to maintain a healthy span of grass and not feel ‘guilty’.  Good grass, not such a bully after all.  But what if your yard has more turf than anything else?

On the home front, it is possible to convert some of your turf square footage over to more plant diversity. By doing this, you’ll be providing more nutrition to a larger range of critters, both above and beneath the soil.  You might even grow some food for yourself and family.   But just ripping out the grass and planting water loving plants is not the best way to go about it!

Learn how you can transform your lawn into a beautiful xeriscape garden from one of Boulder County’s most sought after landscapers, Bill Melvin, owner of Ecoscape Environmental Design. This seminar is sponsored by the Center for Resource Conservation, and will take place on April 5 at the Lafayette Library, 5:30 to 7:30pm. See more class details and register here.

There, now you can have your turf and eat it too!

Boulder is First Bee Safe City in America!

Come Celebrate…

Saturday, August 8th,  4-6pm

Hors d’oeurves ~ Wine ~ Craft Beer ~ Live Music ~ Raffle Prizes ~ Bee Hives ~

And Lots of Fun!

As client’s, friend’s, family, and associates, I wanted to invite you to a fun celebration this coming weekend.  It is to honor Boulder becoming aBeeSafe logo bee

Bee Safe City passing city council resolution number 1159, which bans the use of bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides on all city-owned and city-managed property.

In the past year I have become involved as an advisory board member with Bee Safe Boulder.  This was in response to my realization that even given my efforts to beautify Boulder, our plants  were damaging many pollinator species. The use of neonicotinoids in our communities is widely prevalent, yet hardly known. Please support Bee Safe Boulder, learn more, mingle with City Council members, board members, friends, and neighbors.

All proceeds from this fundraising event will go directly to furthering the mission of Bee Safe Boulder, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

To purchase tickets please go to Bee Safe Boulder event.

I do hope that you can make this festive occasion and look forward to seeing you there. Till then, enjoy your summer!  Party Time Bee

Bill Melvin

Ecoscape Owner, Sponsor, and Bee Safe Advisory Board Member

Water Conservation – By Volunteering or By Force?

Blackmore Rock Garden (large)

This turf-free Ecoscape design in south Boulder features native perennials, ornamental grasses, and very drought tolerant boulders.

Back in 2000 when Ecoscape got its start as a Boulder landscape company, we were in the height of our areas worst drought in over 300 years. We struggled but persevered doing what we love, installing landscapes that are appropriate for our region.

California has been experiencing their worst drought in many decades if not centuries. Last I checked their precipitation levels for 2015 were at around 5% of their normal rate. California in response has had to take drastic measures such as paying people to tear out their lawns. This attached link from today’s CNN Money outlines some of the great achievements being made in water conservation.

With our rain patterns these days here in Colorado, this type of extreme shift may not seem warranted. But you can realize a new lovely garden that uses 1/10th of your current water use on you lawns while creating an oasis in the process. We do live in a semi-arid desert after all.

-Bill Melvin

Smart Irrigation Month

Colorado Governor Hickenlooper declared that July is SMART IRRIGATION MONTH, but truthfully, it really begins when your system is activated in the spring, and continues through the final irrigation blow-out in the fall.  Strategies for being ‘smart’ range from managing your irrigation system to water-wise landscape design and cultural practices.

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While you may consider your irrigation controller to be a nebulous box mounted to your garage or basement wall, and may be tempted to ‘leave it to the professionals’,  there are some simple ‘smart irrigation’ practices you can do for starters:

  • Inspect your irrigation system monthly by walking around your property checking for leaks, broken or clogged sprinkler heads, and other problems. Lawn equipment, thirsty raccoons, or improper winterization can cause damage, so be on the lookout for problems and get them fixed quickly.
  • Learn the basics about your controller: know how to turn your sprinkler system off, and do so after appreciable rain events. Remember to turn it back on, or have a professional install a rain sensor that does it automatically.

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  • Adjust your controller timer to water in the early mornings when winds are calm and temperatures are cool to minimize evaporation (between 4am and 8am).
  • With July and August being the hottest months here in the Front Range, be sure to increase your irrigation cycle to account for increased water needs of your lawn and plants. Re-adjust settings as we head into September and October.

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At Ecoscape, we value the preciousness of water and believe that you can have a beautiful landscape that is also water-wise.  By adhering to smart irrigation practices and working with our professional landscape staff, you can be sure you are part of making things better!  Schedule an appointment with our irrigation specialist, Richard Matteson, who can inspect, evaluate, and make smart technology recommendations to improve your irrigation system and  teach you some basic operating guidelines.