Deer in winter

Deer graze in winter.

The observations I have been able to enjoy through these months of quarantine have been beyond joy. Something awesome and eye opening seems to happen every week.

The normal most every day is the faithful five does coming into the yard for a nibble and sometimes a nap. As I write this article, I am watching not 1, or 2, or 3, or 4 — but 5 bucks using my rockery for a game of King on the Mountain and the grassy area for a race track. Two are young and feeling playful and cocky. Maybe their growing head-gear is akin to our teenage sons getting their first freedom of driving.

One buck has lost half of a good-sized rack and the other two are seasoned to the ways of the world. Young buck wanted to engage old buck in a game of horn butting by giving a gentle poke to his rack. And then the game started. It wasn’t a serious game, and after a dozen pushes forward and back the game abruptly stopped and they went back to munching.

To think all of this happens one block from busy 27th Street, makes me realize what I thought was my land, really isn’t, and that’s OK with me.

The observation of more people walking in my neighborhood and throughout the city brought to mind a subject I have never written about, “streetscaping.”

Streetscaping involves the narrow strip of land between the street and sidewalk, usually between three- to six-feet wide and can be several times that in length.

The City of Bend has published a guidebook specifically regarding the use of that strip of land with regard to water consumption. The guide book is titled “WaterWiseTips, StreetscapeGuide.org” available on-line and at the City Hall.

At the time of publication, it was noted that approximately 60% of all residential water use in Bend occurs outdoors, most of which goes to landscape irrigation. Much of that irrigation is lost due to overwater through improper irrigation scheduling and to irrigation overspray resulting in run-off onto streets and driveways.

The book is a step-by-step guide to create a better looking and more water-efficient alternative to what you may have. The guide includes an initial design or landscape plan, a focus on soil preparation and grading, an efficient drip irrigation system and minimal routine maintenance.

There is a notation that some street strips in Bend are designed to collect and retain stormwater. These strips have been engineered for a specific purpose and should not be altered. Please call the City of Bend WaterWise Program (541-317-3000 option 2) if you have questions about your property. Property owners who are part of a Home Owners Association should check on the regulations in place with the association.

The guide offers four planting options all of which are water efficient, functional and aesthetically pleasing. The transformation isn’t as simple as just digging out what you have and replanting. There are site preparation and grading which will include soil or sod excavation and a switch from overhead sprinklers to a dripline irrigation system.

Remember the Golden Rule of gardening — “plant the right plant in the right place.” Be aware of the maximum growth width of the plant, especially shrubs. The plant may look great for a year or two and then extends growth into the sidewalk impeding walkers and bike traffic. Label the plants for the benefit of walkers who might be encouraged to follow your example. What could be a better way to build community than in your front yard?

The publication is a great inspiration to help correct some of our old beliefs that there will always be enough water. Maybe we should be thinking more seriously now rather than later. Remember that basically, we are living in a desert and not in the lush Midwest. In years to come who knows the problems others might encounter as well.

In addition to the “WaterWise Streetscaping Guide,” the City has also published “WaterWise Tips, Landscape Guide and WaterWiseTips, Irrigation Guide.” “Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon,” an Oregon State University extension publication is also available online.

Kudos to Summit High School and their participation in the “Tree-Plenish” program to replenish the environment with 187 trees, based on an approximate school usage of 1.9 million sheets of paper. The trees offered for sale are Acer rubrum, red maple and cercis canadensis. Eastern Redbud. Both trees are listed in the Water-wise Gardening in Central Oregon publication. The saplings are 12-18 inches and priced at $5. The offer includes planting but a word to the wise. At this time of year, it would be safer to buy a bag of potting soil and plant it in a black 1-gallon nursery pot to acclimate it to our climate by placing it in a protected area outdoors. The recommended area for protection would be the north side of a structure, placed on the south side might encourage early leaf-bud, then subject to damage from an unexpected frost.

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