Saturday, June 19, 2010

Form Follows Function, even in gardens?

I've never been much of a plant person. I just never got into the pretty flower thing. Turns out there is a lot more to it then that. Specially when you pull in the environmental aspects. I attended an Ocean Friendly Gardens class today here in Torrance. It was put on by the Green Gardens Groups, Surfrider, South Bay Environmental Services Center and the City of Torrance.

They put together a great class that surprisingly only spent a few minutes on the plants and bout 2.5 hours on all the other aspects of a healthy garden. The big surprise for me was the importance of run off water, permeable soil and how it relates to my home and the ocean. I figured that since "It Never Rains in Southern California" rain gutters and run off water had no importance to me. Once they rationalized it, it makes perfect sense. More dirt accumulates the longer we go without rain. And since the water rushes down the gutter down pipe, the ground is not able to absorb it so it just runs off. Now that little bit of rain water is gone into the drains instead of in my garden.

What this all means is that I can't just stick a bunch of pants in the ground. I have to manage rain gutters better, create contours to direct the water and possibly even a space to store water. Then I have to fix the mess of compacted soil that does not allow water or life to thrive. This will not only help my garden but also avoid water from accumulating under my house.

This lesson sounds painfully familiar from the interaction design world. The client thinks they just want a prettier site, but without looking at the entire system the design will fail again. And ignoring to fix the real problem can be much more expensive down the line?

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