Recycled paint, native plants, dirt and rocks make one a green resident
by Jennifer Jackson
photography by Nanor Zinzalian
Brian Bowcock has decided to set the standard. He is the elected director of Division III of the Three Valleys Municipal Water District, and he also lives in La Verne. In the face of the drought, Brian plans to use recycled paint, urbanite concrete and indigenous California native plants to bring a classy drought resistant look to his yard. Where once was a green California suburbia lawn will now be a native presentation of California indigenous plants, complete with serpentine trails that hold blue recycled paint “soft rocks” that resemble streams.
There is a new look to La Verne: dying lawns have led to a revisionist style that meets drought mandates, but also frees homeowners like Brian to put their unique artistic spin on their yards. In the process, residents are making lifestyle changes to conserve water and abide by new water ordinances. As of June 1, 2015, the La Verne City Council enacted Phase VII Water Use Restrictions of the City’s Municipal Code. Residents receive a standard allowance of 22,000 gallons of water for two months. After that, excess water penalties are applied.
Other mandatory restrictions are being enforced. Hose washing of sidewalks, walkways, driveways or any paved surfaces are prohibited. Cars, trailers, boats and other motorized vehicles may only be washed with a hand-held water container or a hose equipped with a shut off nozzle. Leaks from indoor or outdoor fixtures must be fixed within 48 hours. Watering lawns within 48 hours of measurable rainfall is also prohibited. The watering of lawns or other turf areas is only permitted between one hour before sunrise and 10 a.m., for no more than five minutes and not to exceed more than 20 minutes per week.
Keeping La Verne green
These mandates all add up to fact that the appearance of La Verne has changed. “The look we are adhering to is not desert; it is California native,” Brian says. “This utilizes indigenous Californian plants in a property’s landscape design.” The innovative company that is behind Brian’s newly designed lawn is called “Rate It G,” with a tagline that says, “Solutions for a GREENER tomorrow.”
Rate It G is based in Upland and provides green solutions for residential and commercial properties. “We started off in real estate and construction as Horizon Property Group in May 1999. It wasn’t until last year we had to start dividing our business to create Rate It G,” owner Joe D’Angelo says. His company offers services from lawn dyeing to the installation of solar panels and home automation systems.
The company partners with Acrylatex Coatings & Recycling, Inc., in Azusa to offer soft rock in landscape designs. Soft rock looks just like small rocks except they are made from recycled paint. In addition, the company’s lawn dyeing holds a patented non toxic formula safe for children and pets. They dry in minutes and can last three months while also promoting future plant growth. The application can reduce watering by up to 50 percent.
Rate It G currently also offers a model where it will convert a lawn to an attractive drought tolerant look free of cost in exchange for a homeowner’s rebate. “I don’t know of one single company that targets so many different things like we do, which I think is going to make our greenhouse model successful,” Joe says. He also leads the way for greener home solutions by modeling and demonstrating on his own home all his company’s services. “Knowing you’re doing everything you can to run efficiently, and knowing you’re not in a wasteful position is rewarding,” he says.
Water conservation education
City signage in strategic areas educates residents with water conservation ideas and also tells how the city is transitioning to drought tolerant landscaping. “I see this going as far as removing turf completely from residential property in front yards,” says Dan Keesey, La Verne’s director of public works. “We have taken various steps to inform the community already via letters to the community. We’ve reached out personally to our top users of water; we have met with all of the homeowner associations who have large landscape areas. There is information on our website that is shared with people, and there is an article in our recreation guide that tells about the conservation efforts in La Verne.”
City projects are also underway to promote water conservation. Walk into city hall, and one is greeted with an information table full of hose nozzles, reduced flow sink heads, seed samples and brochures plus a multitude of handouts. Seminar opportunities abound on how to be water wise both inside and outside the home—from using a sprinkler key to making sprinkler head adjustments to reduce water waste.
The La Verne City Hall landscaping is new, too, and features California native plants. Here, one will find familiar plants with hard to pronounce names on self instructional, self help signage. Many of the indigenous plants—heuchera micrantha (“palace purple”), salvia leucantha, erigeron karvinskianus and cistus salviifolius—feature colorful seasonal flowers. Other La Verne public areas have also faced turf reduction. All city parks have varying amounts of grass removal, particularly in perimeter areas not used for recreation. Woodchips have replaced turf to minimize water use. “Essentially, we are removing turf from inactive areas wherever it is used for aesthetic purposes,” Dan says.
Governor Jerry Brown, April 2015, mandated that cities stop watering grass highway median strips. La Verne abides by this order, with one exception: water can be supplied to irrigate median trees. “We are having difficulty with Foothill Boulevard because it is a state highway; they are unwilling to give us a permit to change out the medians to California native planting,” Dan says. For this reason, Foothill Boulevard was the last to be changed.
La Verne’s response to the drought continues to gain momentum. “We are working with our local agencies and partner with them to make sure we are putting out a consistent regional message about our conservation, and that is shared with the schools,” Dan says. La Verne is doing its part to help conserve water and make lifestyle changes. Its stand now is to be proactive rather than reactive to create a better tomorrow for the environment.