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Home front: sierra rhodys; low-water lawn


A roundup of local home and garden news and events, including a program on the Sierra Nevada, lawn alternatives and a compost workshop.

SIERRA RHODYS ... The DeAnza Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society will host a program on Wednesday, Oct. 18 called "Learn About the Sierra Nevada, A Backpacker’s Paradise." Don Selcer, a retired doctor who grows rhododendrons from seed, will talk about exploring the Sierra Nevada for wildflowers. Two of the three species of rhododendrons found in California, Rhododendron occidentale and Rhododendron columbianum, can be seen growing in the Sierras. The talk will be at 7:30 p.m. in room 12 of the Hillview Community Center, 97 Hillview Ave. in Los Altos.

LOW-WATER LAWN ... The Palo Alto master gardener program will offer a talk on lawn alternatives on Thursday, Oct. 19, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. If you are thinking about taking out your lawn and don't quite know what to do next or want to use less water but still yearn for that patch of green, this is the class for you. There are lawn alternatives that use at least 50 percent less water than a traditional lawn but can still provide you with that spot of green. Master Gardener Martha Carpenter will show examples of some of these grasses and ground covers and discuss how to use them in your yard. The class will be held at Rinconada Library, 1213 Newell Road, Palo Alto.

NO CLUE HOW TO COMPOST? ... If you're new to Palo Alto, home ownership or gardening, learn how to turn your food scraps into a rich soil amendment for a healthier garden. Adding compost to your soil improves its structure, helps it absorb and hold moisture, supplies slow-release nutrients to plants and reduces erosion. An integral part of sustainable gardening, composting helps you create a vibrant, healthy and beautiful garden while conserving water and energy and reducing pollution and waste. Attend a workshop on Saturday, Oct. 21; Palo Alto residents receive a free compost bin. The workshop will be from 10 a.m. to noon at Cubberley Community Center, Room H-1, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Register for the compost workshop online at cityofpaloalto.org/compost or call 408-918-4640.

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