Utilities News

Lucie Stern Demonstration Garden

Lucie Stern Demonstration Garden

Grand opening of the Demonstration Garden took place in November 2011.  

This Demonstration Garden at the Lucie Stern Community Center began as a collaborative partnership between the City of Palo Alto's employee Green Team and the local non-profit Acterra.  It has brought together City departments, regional public agencies, nonprofits, private businesses and community volunteers to develop a beautiful, healthy space for the whole community to enjoy. It is a space to sit and relax, view the native wildlife and appreciate the environmentally conscientious nature of its design.

This garden demonstrates environmentally-friendly landscaping using the Bay-Friendly landscaping principles – a holistic approach that works in harmony with the San Francisco Bay Watershed.

7 Bay-Friendly Principles for Sustainable Landscaping

1.  Landscape Locally
Plants chosen for this garden are native to the San Francisco Bay Area and are adapted to our soil and climate conditions.

2.  Nurture the Soil
The garden’s soil was amended with compost before planting. The three inch mulch layer protects it from compaction, controls weeds, helps retain moisture and feeds the soil.

3.  Create Wildlife Habitat
Local native plants provide food and shelter to beneficial insects and birds.

4.  Landscape for Less to the Landfill
Plants were selected to fit their space without mowing or excessive pruning. The garden’s bench and sign were built from a redwood tree in Palo Alto that needed to be removed for safety concerns.

5.  Conserve Water
Compost and mulch help retain moisture in the soil. The plants are all adapted to summer dry climates – most survive without added water once established. A weather-based irrigation controller provides supplemental irrigation water as needed. Once the plants mature and are fully established, the garden will need water only once every 2 to 3 weeks in the dry season.

6.  Conserve Energy
The garden plants and materials were sourced locally, reducing the energy intensity required for transportation. Plants were raised at the Acterra nursery in Palo Alto. Maintenance will require minimal or no use of gas powered tools.

7.  Protect Water & Air Quality
No pesticides or synthetic fertilizers are used in the garden. This keeps rainwater runoff clean as it drains to creeks and the Bay. The garden path is permeable, which decreases runoff and improves groundwater recharge.

This public-private partnership is a collaborative effort between multiple City Departments and Acterra, a local non-profit agency, with sponsorship from Lyngso Garden Materials, the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, EarthCare Landscaping, the Bay-Friendly Landscaping and Gardening Coalition and individual members of the community.

Public/Private Partnership

This garden is a project of the City of Palo Alto employee Green Team, created in partnership with the local nonprofit Acterra.  It is a collaborative effort between multiple City Departments and Acterra, with sponsorship from Lyngso Garden Materials, the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency, EarthCare Landscaping, the Bay-Friendly Landscaping and Gardening Coalition and individual members of the community.

In a regional collaborative effort, this garden will be linked with several others throughout Santa Clara County to demonstrate a variety of sustainable landscaping practices. The gardens will host workshops, share an informative website and have design templates available to anyone who wishes to duplicate the designs.

Last Updated: March 15, 2012