Campus parking for members gets easier

Photo of UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden Headquarters

Starting October 12, 2015, same-day parking permits for members will be available during business hours from our headquarters.

We are making a change in how Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden members can redeem their 12 days of free campus parking benefit. Members will no longer need to visit the TAPS office to receive a parking pass.

Effective Monday, October 12, 2015 members may visit the Arboretum Headquarters office during weekday hours to receive a same-day parking permit valid in unrestricted spaces in any Visitor Parking (VP) lot on campus. Be sure to bring along the parking pass “punch card” you received with your current Friends membership card, your valid membership card and a picture ID.

Please note: Your member parking benefit is non-transferable. Free member parking is not available to UC Davis staff, faculty or students.

The Arboretum Headquarters office is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-noon and 1-5 p.m. (closed noon-1 p.m. for lunch). The office may also be closed for special events, holidays and during campus breaks. The Arboretum Headquarters office is located in Valley Oak Cottage on La Rue Road: CLICK HERE for a map.

Members will still be able to pick up their passes at the TAPS office for a limited time.

Campus parking is FREE on weekends and holidays unless event attendants are present. For additional information, please contact the Arboretum at (530) 752-4880 or

We hope you will enjoy this valuable benefit of being a Friends member and take the opportunity to visit during the weekdays. Thank you to our members for their loyal support.

LIFE AFTER LAWN: A Davis Backyard Transformation

Photo of Ria de Grassi's backyard one year post lawn removal

In fall 2014 Ria de Grassi filled her yard with UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars and other low-water, regionally-appropriate plants. Here, one year later, she enjoys the space while reading in her outdoor seating area.

Look around your neighborhoods and it’s easy to see the toll four plus years of drought has taken on our outdoor spaces. When it came to cutting back our water use we eliminated the top consumer, our lawn-focused landscapes, but now what? Are “gold” lawns the new normal? Facing those same questions a year ago, Ria de Grassi, longtime Davis resident, removed her backyard lawn and hopes sharing her experience can help others who struggled, like her, with where to begin.

“I’m a single homeowner who works full-time and likes to travel,” says de Grassi. “I knew I couldn’t start this project without help, but I also knew the first thing any contractor would ask is what I was looking for in my life without a lawn. For me, the first step was to figure out what I liked. I did that by taking advantage of the free resources right outside my door.”

As a dyed-in-the-wool Aggie fan, alumna, and Friend of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, de Grassi got to know the plants she liked by walking the Arboretum, taking photos, and attending the free tours and talks they offer seasonally.

“Ever since my early days as a student, the Arboretum was my favorite place on campus,” recalls de Grassi. “So when I found out that Sequoia-level members of their support group are eligible for home consults, I jumped on the opportunity.

Photo of hummingbird in de Grassi's backyard.

A diverse mix of native wildlife enjoys the new landscape in de Grassi’s backyard. Here a hummingbird feeds on autumn sage, Salvia x jamensis ‘Hot Lips’.

“Ellen Zagory, their director of public horticulture came to my yard, got a sense of my personality, my lifestyle, what plants I liked and didn’t like,” explains de Grassi. “She then put together a list of what she thought would do well in my space given the variety of exposures, and told me which plants perform well next to one another. I never would have been able to do that on my own.”

Once de Grassi had a better idea of what she wanted, she hired a local landscape contractor. A good place to start this process is the California Landscape Contractors Association website which offers in-depth search functions for finding the right company. Many contractors will provide free estimates.

“They tore out just about everything except my mature trees, and created what I call my outdoor Zen space,” explains de Grassi. “My yard is now filled with low-water plants I love that also provide forage for more wildlife than I’ve ever had before.”

As an agricultural issues and policy analyst for the non-profit California Farm Bureau, de Grassi is well acquainted with the importance of providing a safe haven for bees so the majority of what de Grassi planted are selections of UC Davis Arboretum All-Stars—tough, reliable plants that have been tested in the Arboretum, don’t need a lot of water, and support native bird and insects.

“It’s true what they say … plant it and they will come. My yard is abuzz with activity from hummingbirds, bees, dragonflies, and today I saw a lizard in my yard for the very first time,” says de Grassi. “It’s not just the animals that are thriving either. Last fall the plants looked so small. I thought it would be years before I could see the tapestry of colors and textures coming together; it’s better than I imagined it’d be just one year later. Fall really is the best time to plant.

The transition to life without a lawn has been a learning experience for de Grassi, especially when it comes to managing her new sub-surface irrigation. This highly efficient system self-adjusts its watering cycle depending on readings it receives from a remote weather station mounted on her fence.

“I still need to make irrigation adjustments here and there, but my plants like it and so does my water bill,” explains de Grassi. “Even though I am using more water to establish my new plants than I will in a year or two, it’s still less than it would be if it were lawn, and it’s only going to get better.”

Photo of Ria de Grassi with the soil probe she uses to determine whether or not her mature trees need irrigation.

TThe mature trees in de Grassi’s backyard are on a separate valve linked to an above-ground drip irrigation system covered in mulch. To determine whether or not the trees need water de Grassi uses a soil probe.

The other thing that has changed is how de Grassi waters her trees. Because mature trees were incorporated into her new landscape, the drip irrigation system for them is above ground – covered with mulch – with its own valve. The rest of her landscape has a sub-surface drip irrigation system with multiple valves.

“Now I deep water my trees about once a month,” says de Grassi. “I use a soil probe to measure whether or not they need water. I push it into the ground to about 18 inches … if the probe is muddy all the way to the 18 inch mark, I know I can wait to water; if the mud doesn’t reach the mark, then it’s time to water. It’s kind of like testing whether or not your cake is ready to come out of the oven!”

What is next for de Grassi? Her front yard! She’s applied for and been pre-approved to receive a rebate from the State of California’s lawn removal program ( and this week not only is that lawn coming out, she is visiting the Friends of the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden plant sale this Saturday to stock up. They’re celebrating 10 years of Arboretum All-Stars and will have their largest inventory to date of low-water, regionally-appropriate plants including California natives and Arboretum All-Stars, of course.

To learn more about de Grassi’s life after lawn, see photos, learn more about her plant selections, and other sales, visit the UC Davis Arboretum’s website at

Learn more about the Arboretum’s FALL PLANT SALES

SEE A PHOTO GALLERY OF de Grassi’s backyard transformation

A partial list of the plants in Ria’s backyard

  • Aster x frikartii ‘Monch’ – aster monk
  • Hydrangea quercifolia – oak leaved hydrangea
  • Bouteloua gracilis – blue grama grass
  • Epilobium canum – California fuchsia
  • Erigeron karvinskianus – Santa Barbara daisy
  • Heuchera ‘Rosada’ – rosada coral bells
  • Muhlenbergia rigens – deergrass
  • Nepeta x faassenii – hybrid catmint
  • Origanum vulgare ‘Betty Rollins’ – dwarf oregano
  • Solidago californica ‘Cascade Creek’ – Cascade Creek California goldenrod
  • Cerastium tomentosum – snow-in-summer
  • Ceanothus x pallidus ‘Marie Simon’ – Marie Simon ceanothus
  • Hesperaloe parviflora – coral yucca
  • Lavandula x ginginsii ‘Goodwin Creek Grey’ – Goodwin Creek lavender
  • Salvia greggii and Salvia x jamensis – autumn sage
  • Teucrium fruticans – bush germander
  • Callistemon ‘Little John’ – Dwarf Callistemon
  • Ceanothus ‘Ray Hartman’ – Ray Hartman ceanothus
  • Eriogonum fasciculatum – California wild buckwheat

Edible landscape interns pilot campus gleaning projects

Photo of UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden's 2013 edible landscape interns.

Carli Hambly (second form left) and Natalie Dean (fourth from right) will lead this year’s edible landscape interns in a food gleaning pilot project. Here Carli and Natalie are pictured with our 2013-14 edible landscape interns.

Originally posted on October 1, 2015

Carli Hambley (second from the left), Co-Coordinator for our Edible Landscaping Internship Program, has a passion for making sure that food grown in our campus edible landscapes gets to the people and programs that need it. She has some experience in this area as she recently helped facilitate, along with GATEways Horticulturist Stacey Parker, the approval of a gleaning project in a Plant Sciences field in partnership with the Department of Plant Sciences and Agricultural Sustainability Institute. What may seem on the surface as a relatively straightforward task—harvest food and give it away—actually involved multiple steps to ensure consumer health and food safety.

Now, continuing her leadership role in our Learning by Leading Program, Carli, along with fellow Co-Coordinator Natalie Dean (fourth from right) will guide the edible landscaping interns in creating a new program to distribute produce grown in the Good Life Garden to the UC Davis Student Food Pantry. This is contributing to a larger effort to address food insecurity issues for UC Davis students. Support this team by purchasing cool-season edibles at our fall plant sales.

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