A resource for residents of Encino, California—find out how you can contribute.

Garden hose chlorine filters

May 11, 2015

Tap water contains chlorines and chloromines. Neither is good for plants or the beneficial bacteria in the soil. As any good gardener will tell you, you need to look after the soil and the plants will take care of themselves.

Gardeners - especially organic gardeners - can buy a garden hose filter that can significantly reduce these chemicals, as well as VOCs, sulfates, pesticides and herbicides for $25–$40. I just bought this one from Amazon for $37 and the reviews are almost all positive. It is sturdy, about a foot long and supposed to last for 10,000 gallons. The only problem with that is that I will have no idea when I have reached that amount, which may be in less than 6 months, but we will see.

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Artificial or fake grass is mostly a bad idea

May 06, 2015

Artificial or synthetic (or fake) grass is expensive, it heats up quickly and it radiates that heat out. On really hot days it becomes too difficult to walk on it without shoes.

It will work in a shaded area or as a decorative effect but most people replacing their lawn are thinking of those larger, sunnier exposures between the house and the street. If you are, don’t waste your money.

Yes, fake grass doesn’t need watering, fertilizing or mowing and the expensive ones can look like real grass, but fake grass comes with a big upfront cost — $5 to $20 per square foot, installed, and the best-looking ones are at the upper price range.

So, why not go with natives instead? Or, at the very least, use a combination of both. That way you have the satisfaction of helping the environment - birds, bees, butterflies - and you let rain water and storm water seep into the soil to replenish our aquifers, instead of flowing out to the street and from there to the ocean.

Photo: Wikipedia/ProGreenGrass


Metro Vanpool Program and Rideshare Program

January 01, 2015

Interested in vanpooling to and from work?

Vanpools are similar to car pools, except a vanpool is a group of 5 to 15 people who regularly travel together to work 30 miles or more (roundtrip) in a comfortable van at least 13 days out of the month. Typically, riders pay a monthly fare and maintenance fee, while drivers ride at a discounted rate in exchange for driving and maintaining the van. Details here. Currently there are 1,375 vanpools in operation around LA, with more on the way.

On that link you can click on either Vanpool Seat Finder or Start a Vanpool. With the Seat Finder you type in your zip code and your destination zip code and it finds available vanpools for you. I had trouble with this link so if you have trouble, this link may be more effective. If you want to start a vanpool, it involves leasing a van from one of the approved companies and the costs are partially offset by a Metro subsidy.

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It’s legal to grow veggies at rental and homeowner properties

December 26, 2014

California law was amended in 2014 to allow renters to grow veggies in the backyards of their rental units. The same goes for owners living in residential homeowner associations. Certain restrictions do apply. The LA Times has a summary here.

Or you can read the legal summary here - Assembly Bill 2561, which added sections 1940.10 and 4750 to the Civil Code, relating to land use.  The specific language says that a tenant can “participate in personal agriculture in portable containers approved by the landlord in the tenant’s private area, as defined, if certain conditions are met,” and it ensures that homeowner associations cannot prohibit or unreasonably restrict the use of a homeowner’s backyard for personal agriculture.

These changes became necessary because of persistent opposition from homeowner associations and landlords, and the latter can still make life difficult for those who want personal gardens. Perseverance and citing the law may be required in order to push back.

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Encino411 is a website for residents of Encino, California, with information on recycling, edible gardening, environmentally friendly housekeeping, tips on volunteering in the community, disaster preparedness, elder care, markets and other green products.

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