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Difference between revisions of "Jefferson Community Center native landscaping 2017"

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==Proposed timeline==
==Proposed timeline==
This timeline was intended as a guide so we knew what we should be working on at a certain time in the semester. It also allowed our client, CCAT, a glimpse at how we planned to accomplish our project goals within the time allowed.
A proposed timeline for the JCC Native Landscaping Project.
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Revision as of 06:29, 13 February 2017

Engr305 Appropriate Technology page in progress
This page is a project in progress by students in Engr305 Appropriate Technology. Please do not make edits unless you are a member of the team working on this page, but feel free to make comments on the discussion page. Check back for the finished version on May 15, 2017.


The Jefferson Project is an amazing example of hope. The Jefferson Center used to be the Jefferson Elementary School, but it has become a safe haven for the community, young and old, in Eureka, California, thanks to the community volunteers from the Westside Community Improvement Association (WCIA). Our project for this Spring 2017 semester is located on 1000 B Street, and our team will be collaborating with Heidi Benzonelli-Burden, Lost Foods, Bill Rodstrom and Pete Haggard of Native Plant Society, and Lonny Grafman. Our team consists of Humboldt State University's Engineering 305 Appropriate Technology students: Richard M., Winessa N., Katelyn P., and Kathrine S. We are this project’s "Build and Educate Team" and will help with "Jefferson Native Park Design."

In this project, we will not only design a space with native plants, but we will also help create and build it before spring. Furthermore, we will work on signage, curriculum, and outreach for the remainder of the semester. We were planning on putting a drip irrigation system; however, according to Benzonelli, there is typically no irrigation used for native plants,” and “the drainage that is presently in place is to control run off and maintain it all on site.” Throughout the semester, we will learn more about the project and do research on creating a space that will not only reduce the use of water, but also cultivate a place that embraces sustainability, community, and teamwork.

Problem statement

The objective of this project is to build, grow, and cultivate a space with native plants to reduce the use of water, create signage to help guide community members and visitors, and outreach to educate and unite the people in Eureka and other parts of Humboldt County. We hope to make a place that is inviting, educational, and fun for all people who will visit the Jefferson Center and be part of something that will continue to grow for future generations.

Project Evaluation Criteria

The following Criteria will be used to assess the success of the project. These criteria were chosen with the help of Director Heidi Bennnn and the students designing the Native Landscaping Project. The scale (1-10) represents the importance of each constraint meeting the criteria where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest.

Criteria Constraints Weight
Durability Plantation zone is adjacent to sports field without a fence so it must be able to stand usual activity
Safety Children must be able to play without risk of injuring themselves on the plants due to thorns for example
Educational/Interpretation Concepts Must include educational interpretive signage for the community
Accessibility Community must be able harvest fruit bearing and medicinal plants
Primarily Native Plants, Native Food Bearing, and Native Medicinal Plants must be available from local nurseries and be in stock. Nor can the food bearing plants attract vermin
Size Must be able to accommodate the only two works areas
Design Must account for the fact that the project area is an onsite rainwater catchment and is swampy in winter, nor can there be any solar shading to neighboring areas from things like big trees such as redwood or sitka spruce
Maintenance Low upkeep as years go on
Budget Must not exceed budget

Literature Review

This is a review of the available literature relevant to the native landscaping project at Jefferson Community Center. The review consists of the basics for understanding native landscaping, the benefits and advantages, planting and maintenance, and its design. This reviews also explains key elements for the mounds that will be necessary to plant on, and gives an understanding of the local regional climate and soil type. Lastly the review explains important components to consider when using education signage in a community area.

Native Landscaping


First it is important to define the term native and what is considered a natural range for a species to ensure there is proper understanding and selection of plants during the native landscaping. Native refers to the specific origin or region of a particular species.[1] A native species which occurs in a specific region is a product of natural forces without there being any human interference and (for North American plants) is considered to be growing in the wild before European settlement began 300 years ago.[1] The natural range of a species largely varies from species to species, however it is defined to be the area that a species naturally grows in.[1]

Benefits and Advantages

Native landscaping and planting with natives comes with many benefits and advantages. Native plants have a natural defense system against disease and insects, taking away the need for pesticides which helps to keep toxins out of waterways.[2][3] Once the plants are established, they need only minimal irrigation -keeping water usage at a low.[2] Wildlife also will use native plant communities as a natural habitat which attracts pollinators and preserves the balance of natural ecosystems.[3]

Planting and Maintenance

Fall or winter is the prime time to plant because the soil is softer and rain is more frequent, and planting after March requires extra supplemental watering in order to establish a healthy root system.[4] [2] Adding 3-4 in. of compost to the top soil before planting is beneficial for nutrient intake. In terms of spacing, it is suggested to place trees 10-15 ft. apart, shrubs 5-10 ft. apart and ground covers 1-3 ft. apart.[2] To maintain newly transplanted plants, it is important to water them deeply and frequently for the first two summers to support healthy growth. Once established though native plants only require watering during the driest parts of summer.[4] Plants may be moved to a different location if they do not appear to be thriving well to where they will do better. It is also important to hand pull weeds so the weeds do not rob the native plants of any nutrients, especially in the beginning.[2]

Landscape Design

The goal of landscape design is to use natural features of the area blended with foreign elements to create a landscape that is both ecologically sustainable and aesthetically pleasing. The three main factors to consider when designing an ecologically sustainable garden are the climatic, cultural, and ecological conditions of an area. To reach sustainability, resources have to be treated not as expendable commodities, but rather as a system that should balance inputs and outputs. For design purposes, small plants should be placed where they will not be blocked out by sun and where they will be most noticed (around the edges of the garden).[5]


To fit into garden design, mounds (or berms) should be large enough and gently sloped so that they have a more natural appearance. They are particularly useful in drainage. To be effective, they must be gently sloped enough to support plants and not erode with rainfall and other natural conditions. They should not be taller than about 24 inches and must be 4-6 times as long as they are wide.[6] A diversion ditch may also be advisable, with at least a minor downward grade leading away from the site to be drained.[7]


One thing to consider when preparing a site for landscaping is soil quality, mainly watching out for poor water drainage and compaction. Properly drained soil should be an even mix of solid material and surrounding space, either water or air. An excessive water table can be problematic because it promotes anaerobic conditions. Soil quality can be diminished if topsoil is removed and not replenished.[8] Many parts of the Klamath region of California have a high density of igneous rocks, which has a high impact on ecosystem growth. Trees under these conditions are often more spread out and fail to be very productive.[9]

Regional Climate

“Geographic features such as topography, altitude, proximity to the coast, and latitude to a certain extent define a local area’s weather patterns.”[5] Eureka is known to be a very coastal environment, with very low altitude in the area we will be working, which must be considered. The specific site we are working in, due to the water collection and drainage system in place, resembles and mimics a riparian habitat. In general, the temperature of the region fluctuates very little from season to season and there is rain nearly year round, though much lighter in the summer.[10] Fog and low clouds are prevalent and so it might be unwise to use plants that have high sun needs. Based on evapotranspiration patterns, there will generally be soil moisture until July in the Humboldt coastal region. The North Coast subregion of the NW California region supports marsh, coastal scrub and fir forests.[11]

Educational Signage

Signage will be a key component of the project, so it is important to understand what makes signs effective and favorable. Signs are important to give an outdoor learning center an identity.[12] They can be simple or complex, however they just need to be clear and are best when they represent the character of the community.[12] First time visitors of an area tend to read signs the majority of the time, though repeat visitors are known to reread signs when the signs have desirable information, aesthetics and location.[13] Motivators for reading signs are mostly influenced by the signs’ location (if they are easily visible and in a natural stopping point), when people are naturally interested in the topic, and are motivated by their surrounding environment to seek particular information.[13] An ideal sign would have a three-dimensional image of what it is representing, a large title, shows something that cannot easily be seen (such as something underground), and located at a natural rest stop.[13]

Proposed timeline

A proposed timeline for the JCC Native Landscaping Project.

Week of semester (date) Task Description
1 (January 16 2017) Project options pitched Lonny told us about the options for projects
2 (Jan. 23) Project chosen We chose Jefferson Community Center Native Landscaping Project.
3(Jan. 30) Explore site, meet clients, begin researching Toured the site with project overseer, got an overview of what the project entails.
4 (Feb. 6) More research, more meetings, brainstorming Met with client and native plant specialists from North Coast Plant Society and Lost Foods, sketched out initial plans.
5 (Feb. 13) Pitch initial design proposal, prototyping, obtain materials, begin landscaping We present the design proposal to Heidi, get feedback. Obtain materials. Start building meandering dry creek bed.
6 (Feb. 20) More Research, plan for planting phase Do more research (specifically on plants), meet with Lost Coast Plant Society and Lost Foods and come up with plant list.
7 (Feb. 27) Continue designing Design plant layout, oversee volunteer planting date following weekend
8 (Mar. 6) Get feedback, view site At this phase, most of the work has been done due to seasonal limitations on planting. Go back to site and see if changes need to be made.
9 (Mar. 20) Start work on signage Use information about plants used to create educational signage for the site, perhaps more research will be necessary.
10 (Mar. 27) Prepare for 2nd planting date (if necessary) Possible 2nd planting date if more work is needed. Continue reviewing signage.
11 (Apr. 3) Continue work on signage, prototype signs. Find ways to prototype signs on-site.
12 (Apr. 10) Check on plants, make final changes if necessary Make sure the landscape is holding up and not flooding, check in with clients.
13 (Apr. 17) Work on project reports Keep checking on site, start working on project report.
14 (Apr. 24) Start preparing for showcase, take it easy Most everything has been done, wait for presentation.
15 (May 1) Complete work, showcase project Work should be completed, showcase project at Wildflower Show and Native Plant Sale


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Cook, Edward. 2001. Landscape Restoration Handbook, Second Edition. Restoration Ecology. 9, no. 1: 111-112.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Landscaping in the Pacifcic Northwest: Native Plants." Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "LPNW" defined multiple times with different content
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Castillo, Dava, and Rachel Elkins. "Native and Naturalized Plants for the Home Garden in Northern California."
  4. 4.0 4.1 Kruckeberg, Arthur. 1982. Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest : An Illustrated Guide. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Francis, Mark. 1999. The California Landscape Garden. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  6. Gilmer, Maureen. 2017. "Landscaping Earthworks." Landscaping Network.
  7. Rost, Bob. 2003. "Solutions to Landscape Drainage Problems." Oregon State University. Feb 19.
  8. Fare, Donna C, and Wayne K Clatterbuck. n.d. "Trees for Poorly Drained Soils in the Landscape." University of Tennessee.
  9. Graham, R.C., and A.T. O'Geen. 2009. "Soil mineralogy trends in California landscapes." Geoderma 418-437.
  10. Elford, Robert. 1964. The Climate of Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. Eureka: Agricultural Extension Service University Of California.
  11. 2013. "Jepson eFlora: Geographic Subdivisions." University of California, Berkeley.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Crabtree/Life Lab, Margo , ed. "Getting Started: A Guide for Creating School Gardens as Outdoor Classrooms." Accessed January 29, 2017.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 Davis, Shawn K. , and Jessica L. Thompson. "Investigating the Impact of Interpretive Signs at Neighborhood Natural Areas." Journal of Interpretation Research 16, no. 2 (December 1, 2011): 56-66. Accessed January 30, 2017.