UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County
University of California
UCCE Master Gardeners of San Bernardino County

Posts Tagged: university of california cooperative extension

Synthetic turf, dark mulch and asphalt surfaces are superheating our inland cities

I've been interested in surface temperatures of various living and non-living surfaces in our inland Southern California cities with increasingly hot urban heat islands for some time. Results are in! Use of dark asphalt, synthetic turf,

and dark colored mulches are superheating our cities.  The hottest material of the three is synthetic turf which topped at over 165 degrees in Palm Springs and 159 in Redlands on days when the ambient air temperatures were, respectively, 113 and 108 degrees F this summer. In five of ten days I took data during July in Palm Springs, I was barely able to take a photo before my trusted I-phone shut down, leaving me with the ominous screen heat warning shown here.

What can you do?

Take care of your trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and lawns, which cool the environment substantially.  In the same experiment, the coolest scenario was the surface temperature of a lawn growing in the shade of a mature tree.  Remember that, through transpiration, living plants cool the environment while non-living surfaces do not.

If you're tired of your high maintenance lawn, think about alternative groundcovers that have similar effects (see suggestions below).  While cool season lawns like tall fescue and ryes are high water-requiring plants, warm season lawns like Bermuda, zoysia, and buffalograss are more drought-resistant.  Our studies have found that it's not the lawns and groundcovers that waste the water, it's the uneven coverage (low distribution uniformity) of most sprinkler systems, coupled with not applying the right amount of water at the right time. This holds true for even the most drought-resistant native and non-native groundcovers irrigated via sprinklers, as well.  

Plant drought-tolerant groundcovers

There are dozens of groundcover species that are both drought and heat-tolerant suitable for California gardens.

Here are just two examples: 

Creeping thyme (Thymus serpyhllum) They are both drought resistant and do well in the heat. Fragrant flowers add a special touch to a meandering path to a secret backyard garden (below left). 

Rosemary (Rosmarinus prostratus) Some rosemary species are low-growing groundcovers.  It is great for rock gardens, growing to only 6 inches tall.  It produces purple flowers in the summer and attracts pollinators and can be used for culinary purpose (below right). 

trees cool urban heat islands
trees cool urban heat islands

Posted on Friday, July 30, 2021 at 12:01 PM
Focus Area Tags: Family, Health, Natural Resources, Yard & Garden

End of the Year Thank You!

As 2020 comes to a close, I'd like to express my deep appreciation and thanks to all of our UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener volunteers who have given the ‘gift of their time' to provide credible information to the gardening public. Even during COVID, they've found creative and safe means to continue reaching the public by converting face-to-face classes and workshops to online opportunities.They've gone above and beyond their expected volunteerism by helping those in need during these difficult times by working with our partners to distribute free seeds, trees, and wattles (for erosion control) and ensuring a happy holiday season for children and adults in need through a gift drive. Through COVID, the UCCE Master Gardeners have maintained their email and phone helplines to help county residents solve their gardening quandaries (linked here) mgsanber@ucanr.edu and (909)387-2182.

MG Bob Yocum and Crafton Hills College Gardeners

Master Gardener volunteers helped thousands of county residents landscape more sustainably, grow food in home, community, and school gardens, and deepen their appreciation of nature. They: 

  • Taught classes on drought-resistant landscapes and growing food in home, school, and community gardens
  • Hosted ‘Ask the Master Gardener' sessions
  • Provided education to community and school gardeners
  • Distributed gardening information and answered questions at Farmers' Markets, community fairs and other events
  • Answered home gardening questions via email and phone helplines
  • Shared gardening information through social media
  • Helped promote planting trees to cool urban heat islands in underserved neighborhoods and communities
  • Helped take research data on the 'trees for tomorrow' project
  • Published the monthly Master Gardener newsletter (thanks Phoebe, Debbie, Maggie, Robin, Sue and contributing authors!)

A special ‘shout out' to our monthly 2020 ‘Spotlight' Master Gardener volunteers for their extraordinary service:

I'd also like to recognize our dozens of non-profit partners including Inland Empire Resource Conservation District and the County of San Bernardino. 

And, last but far from least, I'm forever thankful to UCCE San Bernardino County Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neill whose passion, heart, and expertise keeps the program thriving!



Happy Holidays to All! 

MG citizen scientists
MG citizen scientists

Posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2020 at 12:55 PM
Focus Area Tags: Yard & Garden

Welcome Accepted Master Gardener Applicants!

What do more than a dozen community and school garden organizers, members and directors of 15 non-profit boards, several K-12 teachers, a department chair from Loma Linda University a, retired USDA senior marketing manager, a sociologist, an anthropologist, a handful of IT and human resource managers, a structural engineer with a second career as a public health educator and 40 other San Bernardino County residents have in common? They all have a desire to give back to their communities and were recently accepted into our UC Cooperative Extension San Bernardino County Master Gardener program.

The Master Gardener 'class of 2021' hails from all parts of the county including Yucca Valley, Victorville, 29 Palms, Running Springs, San Bernardino, Redlands, Chino, Montclair, Chino Hills, Running Springs, Pinion Pines, Colton, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, and Ontario. They will be brought together for the first time ever in the history of the program entirely via Zoom! In exchange for the horticulture knowledge they receive during the 18-week training class, each has agreed to volunteer 50 or more hours helping county residents landscape more sustainably and grow fruits and vegetables in home, community, and school gardens.

Please help Master Gardener Coordinator Maggie O'Neill, our 150+ current Master Gardeners, and me welcome these new students into our program. I am excited to get to know them and inspired already by their passion and giving spirit. Besides helping residents landscape more sustainably, this year the Master Gardener program will focus heavily on helping county residents develop home, school, and community gardens. This closely aligns with the increased interest county residents have in growing food and adopting healthier lifestyles. Master Gardeners are in the process of developing vegetable planting guides for our three main climate zones (valley, high desert and mountains), ‘how to' videos on planting, growing, and harvesting cool and warm season vegetables, and conducting workshops (via zoom for the time being) to help current and new home, community and school gardeners become even more successful. And, of course, Master Gardeners will continue to staff our email and telephone helplines and hope to resume staffing their Farmers' Markets booths as soon as it is safe to do so!

I'm looking forward to another great year!

school garden san bernardino master gardener university of california
school garden san bernardino master gardener university of california

Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 3
Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 3

Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 2
Master Gardener San Bernardino University of California 2

Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2020 at 9:18 PM
Focus Area Tags: Agriculture, Environment, Food, Health, Yard & Garden

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