Volunteers Wanted for Beautification Project

Written by Theresa-Marie Wilson

Theresa-Maria Wilson has been a journalist covering the North Coast and South County area for over 20 years. She is also the founder of Cat Noir CC and is currently working on a novel.

September 24, 2021

The current state of the median that will be overhauled on Los Osos Valley Road near South Bay Boulevard.

Green thumbs and garden enthusiast are wanted to help create a landscape oasis at what is considered the entrance to Los Osos. The median on Los Osos Valley Road that starts by Ralph’s just past South Bay Boulevard is pretty dreary offering mostly dirt and a few scraggly plants as landscaping.

Celebrate Los Osos (CLO), a community benefit group, received grant funding that will allow them to complete extensive rejuvenation of the median utilizing sustainable, drought-tolerant and native plant materials, boulders and colored gravels all while featuring the existing oak trees. Additionally, the site will use the latest, most efficient, water-saving irrigation system using reclaimed water.

The plants that will be used in the median upgrade through the efforts of Celebrate Los Osos and Earthscapes.

CLO President Pandora Nash-Karner, describes the design as a “continuous stylized serpentine shape made up of color and dotted with groupings of small boulders and plants. As motorists drive by at 35+ mph they will experience a smooth continuous narrative. By utilizing a consistent design approach to the median rather than multiple clusters of unrelated design elements, the motorists will be able to sense the whole rather than seeing disjointed fragments of shapes and colors. The use of three different plant materials and decorative gravel will create a long ribbon of color and texture, and the interspersed small boulders with additional colorful plants will add visual interest.”

The non-profit, with help from Earthscapes, a Los Osos residential and commercial landscape design firm, has worked for two years redesigning the 1100-foot median. On Oct. 9 their efforts will experience a growth spurt. Eighty volunteers are needed, 40 in the morning from 8:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and 40 in the afternoon from 12:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

The scope of the median project starts at about South Bay Boulevard and ends near the post office.

Suzanne Morrison and her staff at Earthscapes will guide volunteers in the work that needs to be done. The scope includes clearing the median of the existing irrigation system and dead plants. The area will be graded and soil amendment added. Volunteers are needed to dig very small holes and plant specific plants in designated locations, move and distribute small rocks and gravel with wheelbarrows, and help install irrigation lines.

Volunteers can be any age. To sign up, send an email to Info@CelebrateLosOsos.org, go to celebratelososos.org/get-involved or call 805-528-7014. Volunteers should wear sunblock and sturdy shoes and bring gloves and water. Tools and instructions will be provided. The County will block off part of the road to make the work safe.

The median serves as much more than a means to separate opposing lanes of traffic flow. The area is similar to a statement piece in a home in that it sets an impression of Los Osos.

“For visitors, entrances—an expression of the identity of a place—change the viewer’s impression of the place they are approaching or passing by,” said Nash-Karner. “The quality of the view and the overall visual perception of the environment speak volumes to the visitor. A long median with large barren and dead areas, torn-up irrigation lines, few live plants and struggling oak trees doesn’t invite a visitor to stop, explore and stay and certainly is uninspiring to residents. The median is the entrance to the local retail area and should make a positive statement.”

Without the work of a group like Celebrate Los Osos, the County would likely pave over the median.

This isn’t the first time the CLO has worked on the median. Back in 2010 they worked with San Luis Obispo County Public Works to redesign the median, which had been neglected for years. That is when Earthscapes, joined the team and with more than 80 Celebrate Los Osos volunteers, the median was replanted and a new irrigation system was installed in one day. After that CLO paid for water and maintenance, and Earthscapes maintained it at a greatly reduced cost.

However, during the construction of the Los Osos Wastewater Project, the median was severely damaged. The irrigation lines and 70% of the plants were destroyed when large trenches were dug across the median.

“It took several years for the Public Utilities Commission, Golden State Water and San Luis Obispo County to come to agreement about reclaimed water from Los Osos’ Wastewater project,” said Nash-Karner. “Reclaimed ‘purple pipe’ water has been installed and is now available for the median project.

Funds total $11,820 from the San Luis Obispo County Infrastructure Grant and $5,800 coming from County Public Works to go toward new plant materials and the new irrigation system.

Plants slated to fill the median include Paddle plant (Kalanchoe luciae), Hummingbird yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), Chalk dudleya (Dudleya pulverulenta), Lomandra “Shorty” (Lomandra confertifolia), Sand dune sedge (Carex pansa) and Blue Chalksticks (Senecio mandraliscae). The existing textured cobble hardscape will be retained and a gray-green groundcover and a brown granite groundcover will be added along with 12” Shasta moss boulders.

The majority of the plants were grown in Los Osos at the Earthscapes nursery. The Dudleya was grown from seeds that originally came from Los Osos and were grown at Native Sons in South County.

Although the majority of the of the work is expected to be done by Oct. 9, the project will grow more beautiful for years to come.
Should much needed rain come, the project will be delayed until October 16 with two shifts — the first from 8:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. and the second 2:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. People are welcome to work both shifts.

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