Big impact from low-impact garden

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Ecologically minded gardeners have a new spot to find inspiration.


The Clallam Conservation District unveiled its latest effort, a low impact development garden in the Water Reuse Demonstration Site next to the Albert Haller Playfields on June 20.


The garden boasts more than 2,200 drought-resistant plants, a rain garden that filters runoff and porous asphalt that lets water soak through to the soil.


Joe Holtrop, Clallam Conservation District manager, led the opening for more than 20 volunteers and officials from various agencies like the City of Sequim, Master Gardeners and state Rep Steve Tharinger.


The low-impact garden began nearly five years ago as a joint project with the Clallam County Master Gardeners but was moved elsewhere after the Master Gardeners dropped their plans to develop a demonstration garden at Carrie Blake Park.


More than 170 hours of volunteer work went into the project over nine months starting in October 2012, and 120 of those came from Sequim FFA students and their adviser, Steve Mahitka.


Student Josh Cibene said the project helps create a sense of community, particularly after seeing local businesses partner with the city and conservation district. Several businesses and individuals donated materials, plants and time for the project.


Daniel Belbin, another student, said the project fits well with the park and it feels like a natural fit.

“I hope it will be here for a long time,” he said.


Holtrop said the project accomplished what they set out to do — give people more resources to lessen their impact when doing landscape.


In their agreement with the city, they’ll maintain it for the next few years, ensuring the plants are cultivated in their critical early years to become established. The plants are watered on timers and by one of the Carrie Blake Park hosts.


Holtrop said the park will have some grass and weeds in it at first but over time the ground cover will choke out the weeds. Heavy mulch will help, too, he said.


He plans to organize work parties a few times a year.


Funding the project

Grant funding for the project came from the U.S. Department of Ecology ($39,000) and the Conservation Commission ($30,000), with $24,000 from the Environmental Protection Agency through Jefferson County.


Holtrop said they used about $74,000 of the grant totals and received about $10,000 in donated labor, materials and equipment.


The EPA funding was used for asphalt, about $25,000 of the ecology grant toward landscaping demonstration and signs, and about $25,000 of the conservation grant toward the LID project.


Holtrop said the balance of the ecology grant was used to cover miscellaneous sustainable landscaping course expenses, including a low-impact design brochure and updating the conservation district’s webpage.


For more on the project, call 452-1912 or visit



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