The southwest side of Davidson Library received a little horticultural care Saturday afternoon when members of the Environmental Affairs Board (EAB) weeded out invasive plants and replaced them with more native and environmentally friendly species.
As part of its Grow Wild and Native restoration project, EAB members re-landscaped one of the library’s plant beds, removing non-native grasses in favor of indigenous species. Volunteers on Saturday also created a “cobb” bench – a cost-effective structure made of clay, sand, straw, concrete and recycled materials.
Juilette Wigley, EAB project leader and second-year environmental studies major, said members uprooted Bermuda and Kikiyu grass, both of which are classified as noxious weeds by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service – a subdivision of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture – currently has a quarantine placed on Kikiyu because the chemicals it releases are harmful to other plants.
To replace the intrusive weeds, Wigley said EAB planted indigenous Monkey Flower, Goldbush and California Sunflowers – all of which were donated from the UCSB Center for Biodiversity and Ecological Restoration. She said these native plants consume less water than the flowerbed’s previous tenants.
“Bringing non-native plants can be invasive to the landscape, and by using native plants we are conserving water and increasing plant diversity on campus,” Wigley said.
Volunteers also constructed a cobb bench atop a cement foundation. Katie Maynard, education and outreach coordinator for the Office of Sustainability, said the bench was partially made from UCSB construction trash and cost only $20.
“We built the bench as a demonstration to show how natural building can be used on campus and to show how you can make something beautiful out of trash,” Maynard said. “Cobb is a very promising building material. You can make a cobb building up to the size of South Hall.”
Maynard said cobb benches, houses and other buildings are structurally sound and cost-effective. According to City Repair Project – a Portland, Ore.-based community planning organization – a small house made of cobb costs a total of $500 to construct.
Although it is made of trash, EAB chair Eric Cummings said the bench, which is decorated with cut glass, also serves as a work of campus art.
“I think it’s really exciting that students are finally coming out to make the campus more beautiful,” Cummings said. “Cobb presents very exciting opportunities for sustainable architecture.”
While no definite plans for future landscaping have been set, EAB member and fourth-year political science major Michelle Jagelka said she looks forward to seeing more restoration projects on campus.
” It’s important not to leave any place neglected because it will be nice for all people to see,” Jagelka said.