Recommendation: SF’s new Crosstown Trail

By Lauren Lewis We’ve entered the rainy season (phew!), which means fulfilling our need for outdoor time will take a little extra effort. If you’re feeling a bit ambitious, one fun way to be outside in the city would be to walk the Crosstown Trail, a new continuous walking route that runs diagonally across SF from Candlestick Park to Lands End. The trail and its…

Why you should be a spider for Halloween

By Lauren Lewis In honor of Halloween season, we thought we’d highlight the super important and “scary” garden resident: the spider. Most people are very familiar with the idea of beneficial insects, who control the population of unwanted insect pests by eating them, but we normally think of a cute ladybug eating aphids off roses. Studies have shown that in fact spiders are often…

Nerding out on: Roots

By Lauren Lewis When you look at the plants in your garden you’re actually only seeing half of the garden’s total mass; in most species a full HALF of the plant mass exists underground in the roots. Deep, healthy root systems offer so many benefits to the plant and its surroundings. One of those benefits is soil carbon sequestration, whereby atmospheric carbon is brought…

Thinking about conservation broadly

By Lauren Lewis I recently had the opportunity to attend a Local Nature Walk in the Inner Sunset’s Green Hairstreak Corridor, a project of Nature in the City. The corridor is a series of nearby small green spaces that are carefully planted and managed specifically to support the presence of the Green Hairstreak butterfly, a nickel-sized, quick green butterfly that’s native to coastal SF….

Mimicking local plant communities in the garden

By Lauren Lewis In the past I’ve written about the types of plant communities that are local to SF and the benefits we at SSG see in knowing and recognizing our native ecosystems. To connect with those ideas more deeply we can seek to mimic Bay Area plant communities when designing and updating our own personal outdoor spaces. Not only does this approach bring…

Updated Bay Delta Plan and what it means for SF gardens

By Lauren Lewis In December 2018 the California State Water Resources Control Board voted to update the Bay Delta Plan in an effort to restore habitat for endangered aquatic animals in the delta. The City of San Francisco is now suing the state over the new plan, ostensibly to buy time to work out an alternate plan that is more favorable to water supply…

What a garden can provide for good mental health

By Lauren Lewis Scientists have long recognized the mental and physical health benefits that come from interacting with nature. These various benefits were reviewed comprehensively in a recent article, viewed together as an ecosystem service of nature just like carbon sequestration or water filtration. And as we gain understanding of the negative impacts of pervasive screen time, there’s more and more traction for the…

Protecting mycorrhizae to promote perennials

By Lauren Lewis In California, where pretty much all gardening is done with water requirements front of mind, the wise approach is to aim for a garden that is dominated by perennial plants- those that live and thrive for many years, rather than a single season or year. (A lot of edibles would be the exception to this trend, but we’ll set those aside.)…

A celebration of the color brown

By Lauren Lewis At Small Spot Gardens we are working to eliminate the need for ongoing irrigation in the gardens we design. In California. Where yesterday we had our first little sprinkling of rain in over 6 months. It’s certainly a challenge to create verdant, lush-feeling urban oases when the rainfall is so sparse and sporadic and unpredictable, but it can be done. A…

Using native Californian land management in current California

By Lauren Lewis Last year I wrote a post describing the work of M. Kat Anderson, who has delved deep into the ways that native Californians managed the land for their survival, and I suggested that the land management practices of native Californian tribes should be used to address contemporary problems. So now I want to look at whether that’s actually happening, and how….