Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Posts Tagged ‘stormwater’


Farewell to Spring and Blessed Calendula

Farewell to Spring and Blessed Calendula

Happy Solstice everyone. Gotta say, it snuck up on me. I’ll still be in spring mode for a couple of more weeks, though the plants seem to know what time it is. A few days ago, the first Clarkias opened. Farewell to Spring.

Somewhat unrelated (though I see that clarkias are blooming in the relevant photos from last year) Landscape Architecture Magazine has an article, From Gray to Green, about PlantSF.org, a non-profit that works to take out pavement in San Francisco and replace it with permeable and planted surfaces. Basically, too much of San Francisco is covered with buildings and concrete — between 60 and 90% according to the article — so the sewer system often gets overloaded during rainstorms, dumping dirty runoff and raw sewage into the bay. Yuck. Richmond has the same problem, clearly visible every time it rains. The solution is to replace concrete with surfaces that allow stormwater to infiltrate into the soil. Enter PlantSF.

Plantsf.org Planting

We went to a PlantSF planting party last year (according to the article, that particular project was called ‘Mission Roots,’ who knew?). These photos are from two PlantSF plantings, taken several months later, sometime around June to judge from the blooming clarkias. I can’t remember which street we worked on, but it was somewhere in the Mission a few blocks from Humphry Slocombe (Oolong or Guinness Gingerbread ice cream anyone?). It’s not too often I use an ice cream shop as a landmark, but that’s how I found the sites when I went by afterwards to see the finished plantings, and I’m sure I could never find them again without having a cone first.

Making Hellstrips

Harrison Street Greenway 2007 Harrison Street Greenway, plantsf.org

We went to a planting party in the Mission this weekend. I hadn’t noticed before, but many parts of San Francisco don’t have hellstrips, the strips of dirt between the sidewalk and the street. Whole neighborhoods are wall to wall concrete with only an occasional little cutout for a street tree. It’s not good; all that concrete causes various problems, especially with stormwater management. Stormwater has nowhere to infiltrate during a storm, so it ends up in the city sewer system where it sometimes overloads the system and causes sewage to dump into the streets and the bay. Yuck. Much better to have a hellstrip, which allows the water to infiltrate instead of running straight into the sewers.

Plantsf.org is a non-profit in the city that encourages and helps people to remove concrete and create planted areas on their streets. Their website has demonstration photos and information about the process; there’s a permit to apply for and grant money is sometimes available to help pay for materials. If I live in SF and had a sidewalk seven feet wide or wider, I would go to their website immediately.

Thirty different homes were getting plantings at the project we helped with, enough to to make a big difference in the neighborhood. A lot of volunteers showed up, the weather was great, and I got a free ice-cream cone.

ryan 1/14