A European immigrant, Agi has come to stand in awe and admire California's natural wonders and rich plant and wildlife since her arrival to California. During her horticulture education at Foothill College (Ornamental Landscape Horticulture in 2001), She was inspired by an instructor, a professional landscaper, to expand her horizons and discover the many reasons why California's indigenous plants are the most logical choice for our environment and gardens.
Native plants are stunningly beautiful, have adapted to our environment, have low water and maintenance needs, and have an unmatched value for the wildlife with whom we share the land. Inviting some of these wildlife to our gardens is a smart tactic, as they can help pollinate our food and ornamental plants and keep them free of insect pests. Numerous native plants provide edible food for us, and some have healing powers. The native American Indians have widely cultivated and depended on these plants for food, shelter, making tools, agriculture, and for medicinal purposes. Using the most appropriate, local plants and plant communities for a specific site location results in healthy gardens that require little input from us and over time become self-sustaining.
In her designs Agi strives to employ sustainable methods whenever possible, and she has been utilizing the 7 Bay-friendly principles of landscaping:
- Landscaping in harmony with the natural conditions of the San Francisco Bay watershed.
- Reducing waste and recycling materials.
- Nurturing healthy soils while reducing fertilizer use.
- Conserving water, energy and topsoil.
- Using integrated pest management to minimize chemical use.
- Reducing storm water runoff.
- Creating wildlife habitat.
There are many ways that we can conserve our water, our natural resources and reduce our carbon footprint. Breaking up an old, concrete driveway or path provides excellent building materials for a storm water permeable path, patio or raised vegetable beds. An old lawn can be sheet mulched over and be left in place to decompose under a new garden bed. Compost made of yard trimmings and kitchen waste makes an excellent soil amendment, and the old landscape plants can be chipped down as mulch for the new garden. While conventional lawns are beautiful and soothing to the human eye, they are inappropriate for our dry, Mediterranean climate. They waste water, require too frequent maintenance that is usually performed with gas-powered equipment polluting our air, and are fertilized and treated with synthetic chemicals that pollute the Bay and our water supply. Instead of these lawns we can choose native grasses, sedges and shrubby or herbaceous ground covers as effective play surfaces and for curb appeal. These alternatives require low maintenance, no chemicals, either low or no water, and can be easily maintained without any polluting equipment.