Sunday, February 23, 2014

Cardboard sheet mulching at the Community Garden

One way to to get ahead of the weeds is to choke them out.

A technique that can be used is cardboard sheet mulching. 

Basically covering an area with overlapping cardboard sheets, and then covering the card board with mulch.  In areas you want to plant, you can cut through the cardboard.  The cardboard will biodegrade, so all is good.   When you get the cardboard sheets, get cardboard without tape or staples, and ideally without writing either, these can usually be found at the big box stores such as below:

Cardboard sheets from Costco

Once you have the cardboard sheets, you can lay them out in your garden, and cut the card board as needed for water pipes or plants.

Cardboard mulching sheet, note the cut around the copper pipe. 

Cardboard sheet mulching keeping the center free for wanted plants. 

Cardboard sheet mulching around an artichoke. 

Then cover the cardboard sheets with mulch like so:

Eventually cover all the cardboard with natural mulch.   

I happen to have a lot of plants in pots, but that will change as spring planting begins.  But getting the cardboard sheets down with mulch on top will help against weeds such as Oxalis (Bernalwood link) (SFGate link) and Bermuda Grass  and countless others. 

Enjoy! Happy Gardening.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Safe & Clean Zone at McKinley Square

San Francisco Park and Recreation has agreed, to do a trial at McKinley Square of a Safe & Clean zone.  An grass area attached to the kids playground area.  This area will be a dog free zone.  This is nothing against dogs, as many families have dogs,  but indeed some dogs can sometimes be a little aggressive, and sometimes dog poop doesn't get (completely) picked up, and a toddler isn't always so careful about what they put their hands into.

This area will be intended to be for kids, but there is not a restriction that this area be kids only.  

This is a trial, and if the community appreciates this it can be continued.  If it is not wanted, it can be removed. 

The fence will need to purchased by the community, but it will be managed by Park & Recreation.

The fence/barrier is intended to be a non intrusive, yet functional fence, that a parent can step over, but children not so.

For the first time in 10+ years of living near McKinley Square I saw kids playing, and tumbling into the grass without any worries.  This Kid Zone was so small, it does not take away from anyone's ability to enjoy the park which ever way they wished.

From what I have seen, dog owners are very conscientious and respectful, and understand the desire for this zone.  Maybe a few might have behaved poorly, or didn't understand, but all in all, I think everyone understands we are all part of the same community and everyone wants to have fun in the resources we have.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Join us for special Saturday McKinley Square Hillside Restoration
Saturday March 16th, 10am-12:30pm


What: Restoring the McKinley Square hillside with native plants.  

Where: McKinley Square Hillside, in San Francisco, at 20th St at San Bruno Ave.  

When: We meet once a month,  next meet up is Saturday March 16th, 10am-12:30pm 

Want more info: email:  

 or check out our blog & website,  at

Below is a brief summary with pictures to help illustrate what we do. 


Foxtails :  The McKinley Square hillside is a designated off leash dog area, which but has a foxtail infestation. 
What are they? sometimes called wild barley, foxtail weeds feature arrow shaped seeds that can be hazardous and fatal to dogs, getting caught in dogs toes, underbelly, and especially dangerous when inhaled in a dog's nose. Foxtails pop up every spring, and we have been eradicating them at McKinley Square and replacing them with native plants and grasses. We have been doing this for a number of years, but we can really use a large group to help remove them from the hillside in one shot. If we keep our efforts up, the foxtails will be virtually eliminated. Please join us.

There has been an ongoing effort by volunteers remove the foxtail weeds and plant native plants and grasses. 

Natives such as  Yarrow (Achillea millefolium), Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus Aurantiacus), Perennial Aster (Aster chilensis), California Scorpion Flower (Phacelia californica), Gum Plant (Grindelia camporum), Costal Buckwheat (Eriogonum Latifolium), Red Fescue (Festuca rubra ‘Molate’) , California Fescue (Festuca californica ), Junegrass (Koeleria macrantha ), Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens), Monardella Villosa (coyote mint), Carex vulpinoidea (Brown fox sedge), Indian milkweed (Asclepias eriocarpa ), Narrowleaf Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis ), Showy Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis), Silver Lupine (Lupinus albifrons var albifrons), Summer Lupine (Lupinus formosus ), Calfornia Melic (Melica californica), One-sided Bluegrass (Poa secunda), Sea Thrift (Armeria) 


These native are good for native butterflies and other insects.  Real differences are showing at McKinley Square as more and more butterflies appear in spring, and less and less foxtails. 
All volunteers get to go home with a few rare native plants.  What is good for the hillside, is also good for our backyards.

On our volunteer days, lunch and drinks are typically supplied by Potrero Hill's Goat Hill Pizza & Chiotras Grocery.

The volunteers at McKinley Square are non-profit fiscal sponsored organization.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Cardboard mulching at McKinley Square

Helping native (and other plantings) with Cardboard mulching.

Clean cardboard (no tape, no staples) is a great source of for mulching.

Below are some pictures of the cardboard mulching around native plants that were planted in McKinley Square hillside in San Francisco.

The need for the cardboard mulching is to prevent invasive weeds from blocking out sunlight for the young native plants.  

Such invasive plants include Oxalis, and Foxtail weeds,  Oxalis, although not a hazard to dogs like fox Foxtail, contributes to the success of the Foxtail,  as Oxalis is strong in rainy season, and Foxtail follows once the Oxalis goes dormant. Its a 1-2 punch against native plants.

The native plants we are protecting with this cardboard mulching is Pacific Aster & California Fescue.

The cardboard itself will not be visible, as it will be covered with mulch, and then it will disintegrate after a few months.
Cut the cardboard halfway through to the center and make a hole, so you can move the cardboard around the trunk of the plant or grass. In this case the cardboard was pre-sliced 3 times (from a case of bottles) which was still fine to use. 

On the left is a finished product, on the right is cardboard mulching in progress, and in the center, you can't see it until the next picture, is and example of the before, our native plant, California Fescue is being suffocated of sunlight from the invasive Oxalis weeds.  

OK, there it is, the California Fescue which was not even visible in the previous picture is now dominant with the cardboard in place.  Once the card board is in place, cover it with wood chips, or other mulch, as was done to the California Fescue to the right and left.   Note how these plants are surrounded by weeds such as Oxalis. Before the cardboard was put in place, it was almost impossible to see the California Fescue.  With the protection against weeds given by the cardboard mulching, these California Fescue should succeed and thrive.

An example of cardboard mulching being set up around Pacific Astor

Its an easy one person job, but its always nice to have a friend help you.  In my case my cat Chewy joined me. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sidewalk Greening Meeting Wednesday Oct 24th, 6pm, 2012

Want a Free Sidewalk Garden at your Home?
With the help of Friends of the Urban Forest (FUF) some of the residents of your neighborhood are beginning to organize a community-based Sidewalk Garden planting on Kansas and Rhode Island from 18th to 20th (cross streets included)
FUF fundraises from generous donors to cover most of the cost.
Planting has many benefits:
·      provides natural habitat for
·      birds, butterflies and bees
·      decreases sewer overflows to the bay and ocean
·      increases property values
·      provides a buffer between the street and pedestrians
Funding will cover all of the cost of tree planting (including concrete removal) and FUF will assist property owners with the permitting process, species selection, materials coordination and installation
If you'd like a Garden in front of your home,
Please contact Rich at

Join us for a meeting with FUF at the Potrero Hill Library Community Room Wednesday Oct 24th at 6:00PM
Rsvp to

Requirements to get a FUF sidewalk garden:

·     Room on your sidewalk or front yard for a sidewalk garden

·     Property owner signs FUF Letter of Agreement and DPW permit forms

·     Owner or caretaker pays ONLY $300 for DPW permit

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Carla Short from SF DPW Urban Forestry will be hosting a kick off meeting for sidewalk greening Potrero Hill at the Potrero Hill Neighborhood house (953 De Haro St)
This Tuesday, Sept 25, 6:30pm-6:55pm (this meeting intentionally goes back to back with the Potrero Booster's meeting at 7pm)

Watch the videos listed at the web sites below, come with, or email questions prior, to address below and they will be consolidated and given to Carla to have as many as possible answered ahead of time.

This meeting is start the process, give out forms, and are find out how many are interested, if large numbers from residents proceed there are opportunities for grants that would help fund the greening.  

If you want to go green (it should be cheaper than replacing cement),  but can't make the meeting, please email your name / address / phone #, and any questions you may have.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Join us!

Sustainable / native restoration for the McKinley Square Hillside is kicking off for fall, this Sunday Sept 9, 10AM-12Noon.  We are planning hillside restoration days every month, 2nd Sunday, 10AM-12Noon.

Lunch typically sponsored by Goat Hill Pizza & Chiotras Grocery.    Volunteers please bring gloves & gardening tools if you have them, otherwise they will be supplied.  
(Note: December is skipped for holiday season).

If you can't make the gardening days,  donations for plants and materials are welcome.  We are a fiscally sponsored non-profit.