Saturday, August 22, 2015

Amendment to LBz Drought Dilemmas

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After writing my last blog - which included a bit about the Blue Oaks in the cul-de-sac out front - I saw an opening for action. I contacted the woman in charge of Municipal Landscape Services. We had communicated several years ago about the oaks when she, the city arborist and I, met in their shade. They advised we move all the cobble from the base of the trees to the “edge of the planter.” Biggest damn planter I’ve ever seen. They planned to fill the planter with wood chips - which mimics a more natural environ for oaks and helps retain root water for the mycorrhiza fungi network. Yep, look it up. The NPS Rangers in Yosemite even sing/teach a song about mycorrhiza fungi! The market downturn forced our project off the budget. Nonetheless, we organized a neighborhood project and in a few hours had all the cobble pushed to the curbing.

Last week, I reached out again. I began by sending the UC study that watered drought-stressed oaks, informing her that I regularly watered our oaks and that they looked better. I asked her to have the arborist render an opinion. He examined our oaks, concurred with my assessment, recommended a watering schedule and that the city deliver the prescribed 4-6 inches of “duff” (wood chips) into the “planter.” Yay; we are back on their project list!

4 pyres in this photo
I also let our Municipal Landscape lady know that their were pyres of deadwood out behind my house (ready for a prescribed burn) and asked if they could be removed. She had many questions about the pyres and seemed miffed. “We typically prefer to manage and perform the brush clearance ourselves so that we can coordinate it during our fuel modification work.” Well I wish you would!

“The greenbelt behind my home is studded with oaks, I responded. I'll bet there are 20-30 oaks directly behind my property. They drop branches. For about the last three years, I have dragged said branches out from under their parent tree and gathered them into piles away from all trees. That way, if we have yet another grass fire (two since I’ve lived here), the accumulated deadwood beneath the oaks would not present a fuel load that could actually threaten them. Or that was my hope. Burning trees will threaten my home. I consider this work part of maintaining a defensible space.”
She softened, “…we also realize folks are doing their part to protect their property too,” and sent a ground crew manager to assess the pyres. They will pick up the deadwood in the next 2-weeks, chip it, and dump it into our cul-de-sac planter. Yippeeeeeee!

Awesome; eh?

So I have a bunch of work to do outside before the city comes to pick up all the deadwood in the greenbelt behind my house. I want to get every good-sized log/branch into those piles.
The neighborhood kids play in the “cul-de-sac planter” and have since moved a bit of the cobble under the oaks again - enough to prompt an arborist comment.  So I’ll be kicking those to the curb. Well - not really kicking - but you get the idea.

To that end, I sent out at Courtie update (I live on a court) informing everyone of the developments. “Once again - we need to get all the rocks to the edge of the “planter.” I'm going to work on that tomorrow. So my request is that if your children play with rocks in the circle, please have them replace their rocks back to the edges.”

One friend recently described me as “pepper and cinnamon” -  it has given me pause.
I sent an amendment this morning: “Let me amend this - I sound like a rock nazi. After the wood chips are dumped - it will be an awesome playground. 
I am just trying to comply with their request about rocks being out of the middle and pushed to the edges until the wood chips arrive.
Thanks. Sorry if I sound like a rock nazi.”
My neighbors laughed and expressed appreciation when we all met under the oaks to toss rocks. 

Sometimes I feel like this eccentric, meddling crone. And if I didn’t own a cat who hates all creatures - I’d own four more. So I’d be this eccentric, meddling crone with five cats. Uh-huh? Aren’t you glad you’re not a Courtie?
Do feel free and join me if you have any inclination to throw rocks or stack kindling.


  1. The city should be thanking you for doing their work for them! We clear a perimeter around our house every few years since getting fire protection up our hill would present a problem. So I know how hard you work to be proactive in protecting your home. Good for you! And if I was a fellow "courtie" I'd be out tossing rocks with you!

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