Garden maintenance is done as much or as little as you have an interest in and time for. Gardens can be highly maintained or left more on the wild side. Garden visits can be done weekly, monthly, seasonally or annually. With a solid planting design there usually isn’t much room for unwelcome plants and also with enough mulch there generally aren’t too many weeds. Maintenance includes picking food and selecting when plants are on their way out and when its time to take them to the compost pile (or chickens) and when to plant new crops.
I help in a few community gardens in an ongoing role as the maintenance gardener. I’m at St. Mary’s Center in West Oakland, where I support the native, drought tolerant and Mediterranean habitat garden. Here low income seniors can sit on comfortable benches and tables and soak in the natural beauty and sunshine at this urban garden oasis. I had the pleasure of designing the garden, facilitating the community to make a waste land grow and install the garden, and now for the past three years maintaining the garden. It was the site of an old church, St. Andrew’s, that was knocked down after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. Seniors and staff pick vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers from the gardens.
I also have helped maintain Berkeley’s EcoHouse in West Berkeley for the past three years. This is a 10 year old demonstration site that features extensive rainwater collection, solar hot water and solar electricity, natural building, a living roof, a food forest, and local native plants.
For homeowners, I help maintain gardens that I have generally designed and constructed, and sometimes I take over an existing garden and try to make some improvements. Gardens need constant help and sometimes have long deferred maintenance. Greywater and rainwater systems need upgrades over time, and swales and other earthworks also need a little adjusting and redefining over time. I like it when a client is really engaged in their garden and works along side with me. Then its a time to evaluate the garden’s general health and see what needs a little improvement. I have two kids and am pretty busy myself, so I understand when someone is away from home working and needs another set of hands to keep up a garden.