Fri08012014

News

"Brown is the new green," says local water district


Lina Broydo/Special to the Town Crier
Are downtown Los Altos flower pots getting too much water? The Santa Clara Valley Water District plans to hire “water cops” to discourage overwatering.

The Santa Clara Valley Water District is spending nearl...

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Schools

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers

Foothill camps prepare local students for STEM careers


Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Middle school students make robotic hands using 3-D printers during a STEM Summer Camp at Foothill College.

From designing roller coasters to developing biodegradable plastics, high school students received an i...

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Community

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women

Local entrepreneur opens home to Afghan and Rwandan women


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Businesswomen Joan Mazimhaka of Rwanda, third from left, and Fakhria Ibrahimi of Afghanistan, in orange, traveled to the U.S. with a 26-woman delegation through the Peace Through Business program.

Employees scoop ice ...

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Comment

Moving on: The Rockey Road

Just over a month ago, we decided to put our house on the market. My husband and I had been tossing around the idea of moving back to the area where we grew up, which is only approximately 40 minutes from here. Of course, Los Altos is a great place t...

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Business

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday

Halo heads to Los Altos: Blow-dry bar founder opens new First Street location Monday


ElLie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Armed with blow dryers, Halo founder Rosemary Camposano, left, and store manager Nikki Thomas prepare for the blow-dry bar’s grand opening on First Street Monday.

A blow-dry bar is set to open downtown Monday, and i...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

DR. ALFRED HUGHES

Long time Los Altos resident, Dr. Alfred Hughes, died May 1st after a long illness. Dr. Hughes was born in 1927 in Maspeth, NY. He served in the US Army from 1945-6, attended Brooklyn Polytechnic University, then graduated from Reed College in Portla...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn

'Wizard' winds down at Bus Barn


Town Crier file photo
Local actors rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.”

Los Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company’s collaborative production of “The Wizard of Oz” is slated to close Sunday at Bus Barn Theater, 97 Hillview Ave.

T...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life

Stanford University appoints new dean for religious life


Shaw

Stanford University named the Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, its new dean for religious life.

Provost John Etchemendy announced Shaw’s appointment July 21, adding that she also will join the faculty in...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Worried about watering? Consider conservation during drought


Julie Orr/Special to the Town Crier
A homeowner transformed this former pool into a native garden paradise with a boulder water feature.

Given the lack of rainfall, Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared a drought state of emergency, asking residents to conserve water in any way possible. One of the easiest ways to protect the precious water supply we have in reserve is to use less in our landscapes.

When clients ask me to help them become more water-wise, we review two main things: reducing irrigation by using drought-tolerant plants to create beautiful landscapes, and reusing water creatively in the home and the garden.

If a homeowner has a lawn that is too big, underused or in poor condition, an easy fix is a lawn reduction or complete removal. Replacing a lawn with either site-appropriate plants like California natives or Mediterranean plants – or a combination – not only looks great, but is also more interesting than a boring monoculture of lawn.

Where lawns are necessary because they are used as play surfaces for children, consider low-water native sod blends that, once established, could survive drought conditions.

As an incentive, some water districts offer rebates of up to $1,000 for residential lawn removal. For more information on the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency’s Lawn Be Gone program, visit bawsca.org/water-conservation/residential-water-conservation-programs/lawn-be-gone.

Another great way to conserve water is to reuse it by installing a greywater system. Greywater is water that is used once in the home and then a second time in the landscape. These systems are often connected to a washing machine (for simple systems) or shower, bathtub or faucet (larger systems).

Greywater is preferable to rainwater harvesting for garden irrigation simply because it is a year-round water source that doesn’t require large storage capacity.

For clients with higher budgets, a closed-loop system is a great choice. Rainwater is used to supply water to the home’s toilet, laundry and showers in conjunction with greywater, which sends that same water (not toilet water – that’s considered blackwater) back into the garden. Therefore, the municipal water gets used as a backup source only.

Greywater is best for irrigating trees (including fruit), shrubs and perennials. Because greywater tends to run alkaline, it is perfectly suited to neutral soils or alkaline plants such as natives. I don’t recommend it for any root crop vegetables (like carrots, whose roots have direct contact with soil) due to the slight chance of human contaminants getting onto your edibles.

After you install a greywater system, you’ll need to use greywater-safe household products like salt-free detergents and bathing products. Also, local code requires that your irrigation be on a drip line buried 2 inches deep by either soil or mulch to avoid airborne pathogens.

I recently had the pleasure of attending a greywater lecture hosted by the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. John Russell from WaterSprout stated: “A family of four can save about 38,000 gallons of water per year with a greywater system, and I’ve never been turned down when requesting a permit from the city.”

WaterSprout promotes five greywater systems from the simple to the complex. Pricing varies because each project comes with its own unique site requirements and challenges, but there are solutions for every budget. For a wealth of information including diagrams, visit Russell’s website at watersprout.org.

If you are concerned about saving water, have a conversation with a professional landscape designer who has experience in sustainable solutions and water-wise designs. Landscape designers often have the resources and knowledge to help you build the right team for your project.

Julie Orr is a landscape designer and member of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers. For more information, call 468-8020 or visit julieorrdesign.com.

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