Volunteers planting the Xeriscape garden outside of the Alex Fraser Research Forest Office on July 4.

Research forest opts for sustainable xeriscape garden

For years the Alex Fraser Research Forest office in Williams Lake struggled to keep their lawn green and lush.

For years the Alex Fraser Research Forest office in Williams Lake struggled to keep their lawn green and lush.

Its sloped location was terrible for a garden, proving consistently too hot and dry for a proper lawn, said Kylie Green, administration manager at the forest centre. Due to the large quantity of water and maintenance it required, Green said the forestry service started looking for something that would suit them better.

After consideration, they decided upon xeriscaping, according to Green, a style of gardening and landscaping that reduces or completely eliminates the need for regular irrigation and watering. Through a combination of design and seeding plants suited to the local climate, xeriscape gardens avoid runoff and evaporation, often on slopes just like the one outside of the office building.

Read More: Many ways to approach xeriscaping your yard

“It aligns with what we are trying to achieve in this area. We wanted something that was eco-friendly, drought resistant, FireSmart and a landscape that didn’t require much maintenance,” Green said. “The less we have to do around the building the more we can focus on our other duties.”

In addition to environmental sustainability, Green said that it has been shown interacting with plants and gardening are incredibly effective at reducing stress and was a fun way for them to give back to the community.

Using funding from UBC’s Healthy Workplace Initiatives Program (HWIP) Green and her colleagues set to work designing the garden with local partners right away. HWIP has funded over 300 similar grassroots initiatives since 2008.

Read More: UBC Alex Fraser Research Forest manager retiring after three decades

Local landscaper Sarah Fulton of Naturally Organic Land Care was hired to handle the garden’s design. She helped bring the office’s vision of a sustainable, locally sourced plants, to life.

“We wanted as many native species as possible and for what was available at the time, it’s as specific to Williams Lake environment as we could manage,” Green said.

On July 4 Green and the office held a work bee and were amazed at the enthusiasm shown by the 13 volunteers and employees that came out to help build the garden.

Within a few hours, Green said, they dug a dry creek bed, moved six cubic metres of river rock into place and fertilized the ground and planted, all on soil with the consistency of set cement, using only wheelbarrows and hand tools.

While they did need to water the garden this year to help it establish roots, Green said by its third year the garden should be completely self-sufficient relying purely on rainfall and groundwater year round.

Green said she thinks the office’s new garden will help pioneer an alternative to lawns within Williams Lake. In addition to needing less maintenance and providing a more vibrant visual treat, Green said it would be key in water conservation efforts within Williams Lake.

The City’s water consumption increases two-fold in the summertime, according to the Cariboo-Chilcotin Conservation Society, and much of this extra use can be directly attributed to watering lawns.

“We just wanted to do our bit to reduce that, because this lawn we had we were trying to keep it alive and green and it was a feat,” Green said, “We thought we’d do this garden instead and show people that you don’t have to have this green grass, this lawn in front of your home.”

The reaction from the community thus far has been very positive, Green said, with many of their neighbours coming by and asking questions about it.

She hopes that should the garden become self-sufficient as planned, more people within the community will adopt a similar landscaping philosophy.



patrick.davies@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

QRRC open house this Saturday

Researchers from various universities will share their findings on investigations into the impacts of the 2014 Mount Polley Mine spill into Quesnel Lake.

UPDATE: Father and 9-year-old son killed in crash north of Williams Lake

RCMP confirm family of five hit by southbound pickup truck that crossed the centre line

New Year’s Day robbery and stabbing suspect to stand trial this week

Prolific offender Blake Johnny in Williams Lake Supreme Court

COLUMNS: All for a good cause

Didn’t get to see the chicken herders in action at the Stampede Grounds recently

West Fraser works with BC Wildfire Service, harvests 2017 burned timber

National Forest Week is a time to celebrate our forestry heritage and highlight our stewardship of the forests that supports our communities

VIDEO: Sandhill Cranes in abundance along Highway 97 south of Quesnel

Fall migration for Sandhill Cranes is underway

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: a close-up look at what you were breathing during the wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

B.C. could provide clues as to how New Brunswick electoral results shake out

Premier Christy Clark faced a strikingly similar scenario following the province’s 2017 election

Ottawa working to iron out kinks in public alert system

The alerts are being credit with saving lives during last week’s tornadoes

Premier John Horgan ponders debate on voting system changes

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson wants one-on-one, no Green

Saganash drops F-bomb in Commons over federal approach to Trans Mountain

NDP’s reconciliation critic accused federal government of ‘wilfully’ violating constitutional duties

VIDEO: B.C. dairy farmer says Trump doesn’t understand the industry

‘They need supply management just as bad as we need to keep it’: sixth generation farmer Devan Toop

Most Read