South Pasadena Beautiful | Earth Day DIY Projects Webinar, April 18th

The meeting will be hosted over Zoom on April 18th at 4 PM

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | Lisa Zahra's walled drought tolerant garden at 1729 Meridian Ave


Need ideas for a new garden project?  Come see what your neighbors have been up to while staying at home. Join South Pasadena Beautiful in learning about sustainable DIY projects from local residents including wine making, composting, growing food, and more.  The meeting will be hosted over Zoom on April 18th at 4 PM. Please visit the “Events” page at for the Zoom link.

Thank you to all the participants and the NREC for working with us to make the webinar possible.

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COMPOSTING AND GROWING VEGGIES FROM SEEDS – The Rowley Heidel family had been meaning to start a compost bin for many years, but had never taken the time to figure out the process. In March 2020, their  8th grade son got involved in a compost project through his school.  He was enthusiastic about it and shared some ideas with his family. Finding a lot of time on their hands due to the Los Angeles County stay-at-home orders, they built one compost box and quickly realized that they would want another to accommodate all of their compostable material. Also, during this time, they started drying out their own seeds and seeing what they could grow. Currently, they have herbs and onions, lettuce, radishes from store-bought seeds. Other vegetables –peppers, pumpkins, tomatoes and potatoes – are grown from seeds and scraps they have collected from their own kitchen. “It is really gratifying to grow your own food and know that your food waste is being put back into the ecosystem in a useful way.”

DROUGHT TOLERANT WALLED GARDEN – Living on busy Meridian Avenue, Lisa Zahra wanted to create a usable and beautiful space in her front yard. Her drought tolerant walled garden was a large-scale project that has evolved over several years. The project included building a smooth stucco wall, grass removal, dumpster, permits, plants, mulch, DG for the courtyard, watering and lighting system materials. She kept costs down by doing all of the labor herself, except for building the wall and some of the grass removal. She also bought small plants (which are much cheaper and easier to plant) and installed low-voltage lighting herself.  Lisa was able to offset some of the cost by taking advantage of a grass removal rebate.

DIY LANDSCAPING THE PARKWAY- THE (ALMOST) “BUY NOTHING WAY.” – Cathy transformed her parkway, which was covered with unruly weeds, into a drought-resistant garden.   She gathered cuttings offered by neighbors on the Buy Nothing Facebook Group, then rooted the cuttings in reused nursery pots and old pots she already had. When she had gathered and propagated enough cuttings, she began landscaping. A few large agaves were purchased, but the majority of her plants came from friends and neighbors. Other expenses included renting a tiller and purchasing gravel. Upon completion, they filled the empty gravel bags with the dirt skimmed off after tilling, posted the bags on Facebook, Buy Nothing Group, and Craigslist. Each and every bag of dirt was picked up and kept out of the landfill!

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | DIY Landscaped parkway the (almost) Buy Nothing Way

RAISED BED PLANTER WITH SCREEN AND COMPOST BOX – Isabela and Jack Harrington wanted to build a planter that would help minimize issues with pests, as they were having a lot of challenges with squirrels, aphids and other critters when using an open planter.  They chose redwood for weather durability and pest resistance factors. Their beautiful planter is functional but also adds interest to their front yard. It reduces many of the pest problems, especially big pests such as the squirrels. In addition, they built a box to compost food scraps and to have compost to feed their plants. The open bottom system is a plus since worms and beneficial insects get in through the bottom and help expedite the composting process.

MAKING WINE FROM HOMEGROWN GRAPES – When Anita and Geoff Williams moved into their house, they inherited three grape vines that produce seedless grapes (black, green and red). Over the years they enjoyed fresh grapes, making jam, and juice but were always intimidated by making wine.  This spring Anita was furloughed from work and decided to take on the project of learning to make wine to fill her time.  “Wine making is magic. It takes grape juice and with time and yeast it transforms into wine. Throughout the process you learn a ton about wine and can nerd out on the ph, sugar and Tartaric acid levels.  It’s a hobby that is pretty forgiving and low key but a fun conversation starter.  I loved giving my bottles of wine as gifts at Christmas and sharing with friends.”

FRONT GARDEN MAKEOVER/FENCE REMOVAL – When COVID hit and suddenly, Marilyn Aragon was juggling working from home and kids with online school and not being able to go out, she needed a creative outlet to keep her sanity. She started working on replacing plants throughout her garden and soon, she was taking down an old fence and replacing it. Her vision of restoring her house back to its cottage glory kept growing and she has installed a weathervane, solar lights, 2 fountains, plant trellises, plants and more.

You can’t skip the SOUTH PASADENA COMMUNITY GARDEN when talking about sustainable DIY projects in South Pas. The garden was started in 2015 and continues to thrive because of the work of dedicated volunteers. The garden includes about 35 raised beds, a children’s garden, an “unruly bed” (where gardeners can plant unruly vegetables like squash, watermelon, and other viny things), communal fruit trees, and so many other treasures. The garden is accessible to all who have a plot except for monthly (during non-COVID times) garden meetings and workshops open to the public. In order to reserve a plot, you can visit the City of South Pasadena website to download an application.

PHOTO: Provided by South Pasadena Beautiful | News | Plants growing at the South Pasadena Community Garden at 1028 Magnolia St

COMPOSTING – Michelle Hammond has recently taken on the role of Compost Management at the South Pasadena Community Garden. In other words, she currently tends to a worm bin and the larger compost bins for the garden. Composting organic waste is something she has been passionate about for some time, having previously taught vermicomposting and how to make your own worm bins. Additionally, Michelle used to compost most of the kitchen scrap waste from her restaurant. “I love teaching more people about how to waste less and the other many benefits of composting.” She adds, “Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and try composting at home. It’s a forgiving process and even if you have moments when it becomes unbalanced, it’s easy to get it back on track.”

Save the date for SPB’s May webinar: 

Saving Birds and Pollinators: Plant it and they will come!

May 2nd at 4:00 PM

This talk will present compelling information on why gardening for habitat is so important, and practical tips on how to convert a resource-intensive yard to a natural, interesting and fun garden that provides sanctuary for many critters, including those of the human persuasion.