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Flip your lawn for Santa Clara Valley Water District rebates


Courtesy of Patricia Larenas
Replacing your lawn with gravel paths and a bocce ball court could qualify for a rebate through the water district.

If the drought convinced you to replace your front and/or back lawns with plants that require less water, then take advantage of the rebates offered through the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

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Set in stone: Modern meets Old World in local couples creations


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Bernard and Linda Renaud create custom stonework for homes from French limestone. At their Stone Creations studio the couple showcase their work, which includes stone carvings and paintings.

The company name, Stone Creations, says it all.

The stone, for the most part, is genuine limestone from quarries in France, which is transformed into art pieces by master stone carver Bernard Renaud and his business partner and wife, Linda.

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Los Altos landmark Four families later, Shoup House goes on the market


Courtesy of Matthew Anello
The Shoup House dining room, above, features original elements. The 100-year-old house on University Avenue earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, a nod to its legacy as the home of city founder Paul Shoup.

The house at 500 University Ave., built more than a century ago by Los Altos founder Paul Shoup, is looking for another devoted family.

The current owners, Mary and Brian Heffernan, have moved to their ranch in Siskiyou County to raise “free-range kids” (they have four girls) as well as free-range cattle and chickens. The Heffernans are the fourth family to live in the house.

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Long-term solutions emerge as water conservation goes mainstream


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Forrest Linebarger, right, installed greywater and rainwater harvesting systems at his Los Altos Hills home.

With more brown than green visible in her Los Altos backyard, Kacey Fitzpatrick admits that she’s a little embarrassed to host friends at her home. But the self-proclaimed “water Nazi” isn’t going to let frivolous cosmetic concerns deter her water conservation efforts.

Before the three-digit rebates from area water districts took effect amid the well-publicized perils of drought in California, Fitzpatrick installed a laundry-to-landscape greywater system.

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The secret to a healthy garden: Let Mother Nature do the work


Patricia Larenas/Special to the Town Crier
A balanced and healthy yard includes edibles and California native and non-native plants.

By adopting certain practices and designing your garden to include key plant types, you can take advantage of so-called ecosystem services that build a healthy garden.

Ecosystem services are things that nature provides when the right conditions are met. The most important ecosystem services for home gardeners are pest control, pollination, soil fertility through decomposition of organic matter (composting), healthy soil leading to healthy plants, ambient climate control, moisture retention (less watering), food production and even remediation (breakdown) of harmful contaminants. I would add to the list the beauty and sense of well-being that gardens bring to our lives.

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Enjoy native plants up close


Tanya Kucak/SPecial to the Town Crier
The sharply defined bright-yellow flowers of fremontia, above, contrast with the textured orange-tinged buds and the gentle curves of the bumpy leaves.

Thoughtful and protracted observation is one of the secrets of good gardeners.

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Long live the lawn: Los Altos native offers drought-resistant strategies


Bill Steiner’s grass is green, left, even amid the drought. He followed Max Todd’s water and maintainence instructions after having his lawn aerated, Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

Green lawns are not necessarily on the endangered list during the drought, according to Max Todd, a Los Altos native who owns Fairway Lawn Service.

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