Reveg to Dentist: Cool to Warm Season

After a consultation at the oral surgery center in El Paso, why not visit some of my past projects? And so I did.

And there’s no better time than the end of winter or earliest spring.

This is the revegetation portion of overall landscape architectural work done for Lundy Elementary School, in northwest El Paso TX – photos taken on 3/9/2022:

This school site was once bisected by a deep, canyon-like arroyo. The undisturbed slope, arroyo channel, and wild plants are on the right (south); the disturbed slope revegetation with now-establishing native plants is on the left.

Revegetation work used a mix of species once growing on this site. A number of plants were salvaged prior to mass grading and construction, plus additional seeding with native grasses and wildflowers.

Salvaged plants were first stored and later transplanted into the design, to once again grow on-site. That grounds it to the ecoregion aesthetically, providing functions such as erosion control and a source of food or shelter for pollinators and wildlife. The seeding helps to further knit the groundplane between larger salvaged plants, the roots providing additional erosion control.

The entire area, plants and seeding, was temporarily irrigated with an in-ground, rotary head system. That can be turned on again during droughts.

Salvaged plants included Agave lechuguilla, Fouquieria splendens, Opuntia macrocentra, Echinocereus dasyacanthus ssp. dasyacanthus, and Yucca torreyi.

Seeding included Aristida purpurea, Baileya multiradiata, Bouteloua spp., and Sporobolus cryptandrus. Those grow more sparsely here in desert scrub than in desert grassland, but they are still present.

Past experience proved again, how other native species unavailable for purchase will volunteer into revegetation areas, over time. The larger green shrubs, Baccharis sarothroides, are the only non-native, invasive species observed.

Muhlenbergia porteri, Parthenium incanum, Glandularia wrightii, and Gutierrezia microcephala were some of the locally-native plants that added themselves into the revegetation areas. A few other plants will also volunteer in, if they haven’t already.

Though not a typical ornamental garden, natural desert has it’s own year-round appeal.

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Back to the dentist where I started, I took some photos of their new landscape; I’m unsure of the designer, but it works well. I hope to see this design mature over the next several years, like my own projects.

Sporobolus wrightii was hard to find for use in landscaping 20 or more years ago, but that adaptable riparian native is hard not to find in today’s landscapes.

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Fast forward to the last months of this past growing season, following a productive monsoon season in late summer. And back to Lundy Elementary School’s revegetation project – photos taken on 9/28/22.

This not only has a different appearance than the end of winter given months of growing season warmth, but plants have grown in more.

Gladly, little growth of invasive species and weeds common to the area were seen. Nor has there been any removal or shaping of native species in the reveg areas.

The choice of chain link fencing or it’s placement were not my decisions; that material was a budgetary decision made by the engineer, and the placement closer to the street and sidewalk than on the base plans I designed from was decided later, in the field.

To think those areas, barren during landscape work years ago, now look more like the design intent than the ornamental landscaping!

Architect: MNK Architects

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