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AquaFree Demonstration Garden Coming Soon!

Miles Daprato and Rain Butler installing drip irrigation at Aqua Free garden site
Miles Daprato and Rain Butler installing drip irrigation at the AquaFree garden site along Garrod Drive in the west end of the Arboretum.

This fall, our Learning by Leading™ (LxL) Sustainable Horticulture apprentices will be planting an "AquaFree Demonstration Garden" thanks to a grant the team received from The Green Initiative Fund — a student-fee-supported program, hosted by the Office of Sustainability, offering students the opportunity to develop and launch innovative sustainability projects on campus.

The project, located on a prominent site in the west end of the Arboretum, along Garrod Drive near the Arboretum Teaching Nursery, will utilize drought tolerant plant species from California, the American Southwest, Australia and other dry climates. The purpose of these plantings will be to demonstrate and test the plants by growing them under 3 different, very-low-water irrigation regimes — including zero — to show which plants are capable of withstanding the increasingly hot and arid climate of the Central Valley.

Last winter and spring, the LxL Sustainable Horticulture students designed the garden, assembled a low-water plant list and installed a sub-surface irrigation system (see photo above).  This fall, student apprentices and staff will transform the bare site into drought-tolerant. eye-catching garden that they hope will inspire others to plant similar, highly sustainable gardens. 

Empty plot of land next to a coral.
This empty plot of land, located in front of the Large Animal Blood Donor Facility, will be transformed into the AquaFree Demonstration Garden. 

Currently there is no garden in the Arboretum or on campus that showcases plants that can tolerate zero or extremely low irrigation.  The plants that succeed in this project have the potential for laying the framework for sustainable landscaping in the Davis region and other dry parts of California.

The outcomes from this experimental garden will help future-proof campus landscapes from impending droughts while enhancing the UC Davis experience for students, faculty, staff and visitors alike!

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