MT&GC in the Garden

Perc Pond Garden
Adopted Perc Pond Gardens are designated with this city provided sign
graphics by Kerry Smith

Perc Pond Project

Create a garden in your Marina Neighborhood Perc Pond

Interested in creating a native garden green space along the front of an existing neighborhood Perc Pond? The City of Marina and the Marina Tree and Garden Club have developed a program for residents that would like to make a difference.

Our City has many neighborhood percolation pond areas that function to catch and direct rain runoff back into the soil. They often have a surrounding chain link fence and a gate. These are generally City owned properties that have contracted labor to remove weeds once a year. Most residents agree that these areas could look better. For residents interested in adopting their local perc pond the Marina Tree and Garden Club (MT&GC), with support from the City of Marina, has developed a program to help.

Perc Pond Garden Program

The program applies only to the planting areas in front of the chain link fences that are visible in many neighborhoods. Access to interior areas are prohibited for safety reasons. The club will provide hardy native plants selected for the location and will help organize volunteers for the initial installation. Neighbors, family and/or friends must participate and to continue care for the planting into the future.

Native plants are recommended

Why are native plants recommended to use in your Perc Pond? Although there are other ornamental plants that might be suitable for the challenging conditions of the perc ponds, our native species will provide the “best bang for the buck.” Think of the perc pond areas as a potential attractive green spaces that will not only feed birds, insects and wildlife, but improve the street view, provide seasonal color, and promote community pride. We strongly recommend fall planting to give our natives the best start to establish through winter rains.

The MT&GC would like to promote the use of our showiest and hardiest natives in more areas of the city. Our club will provide plant and design expertise, and, help purchase recommended native plants for those neighborhood leaders that have adopted perc ponds.  

A community perc pond garden should be an evolving process that looks cared for. It is not necessary to install a complete garden in one weekend! A garden is an ongoing process. The City will provide a sign that the landscaped area is a designated Percolation Pond Garden. With this sign in place, the City will only maintain the area inside the fence of the perc pond. The City will not be responsible for any maintenance of the resident landscaped area. It will be the responsibility of the adopting residents to water and weed the landscaped area to keep the garden looking good.

City residents interested in adopting their local perc pond, can coordinate with the Club Member-at-large Perc Pond project director by sending an email to

Perc Pond point person Mike Moeller admires the added wood chips to the native planting
Download the Perc Pond Brochure for more information!
Local Garden Information

Marina Suggested Tree list

Need some guidance selecting a tree for your Marina backyard?
Visit this suggested list of trees that grow well in Marina with images and criteria for ranking.

Marina Suggested Tree List link

Straw bale garden
straw bale garden
Straw Bale

Straw Bale Gardening

This simple method gets results!

  • All you need are some straw bales
  • Fish emulsion and/or bone meal/well rotted manures
  • Liquid kelp if you wish for trace minerals
  • Compost or sterilized bagged amendment to dress the top

The Straw Bale Method

Soak your bale with water and fish emulsion every day for a week. Let it get hot and rot a bit – about a week or two. The bale is ready to plant when it is no longer piping hot. Spread a good layer of compost over the top and plant into the bale using seeds or starts. You can dig a hole and fill with compost before planting. Squid guts worked really well buried into the bale before planting tomatoes this year. Fish heads would be good too for heavy feeding crops.

You will need to keep checking moisture levels as the bale will hold more water than soil will (certainly more than sandy soil!). Keep it from drying out with attentive watering. Installing a timed drip works great too.

The advantages are numerous:

  • Inexpensive! Straw bales run about $12-18 a bale
  • Less work! No need to build beds or bring heavy top soil in to your garden
  • If there are areas of contamination in your yard (motor oil, toxins) you can contain your planting area in the bale
  • The planting zone is now easier to reach because the bales are off the ground
  • Bales are easy to keep weed free (use straw bales- not hay – you don’t need sprouting hay seeds)
  • Bales hold moisture well (better than the sandy soil in Marina)
  • Bales will be warmer than planting in the soil – good for tomatoes!
  • Lay down bird wire before laying down the bale to keep out gophers
  • After the bale falls apart use as mulch in other areas of the garden
  • If you are growing tomatoes or potatoes, you can avoid pathogens like Verticillium Wilt from persisting in the soil by using a fresh bale each year.

Check out these links that describe straw bale gardening in detail

University of California “Gardening with Straw Bales”

BBC News “Pee Bales”

or just visit YouTube and type in “Straw Bale Gardening”

It really works!
Even in the coastal summer fog!

Photos: Juli Hofmann

Two myoporum street trees failing due to thrip infestation

What’s bugging my Myoporum tree?

If the damage looks like the photo, it’s probably myoporum thrips (Klambothrips myopori). These insects are recent invaders to California and are affecting Myoporum laetum trees and Myoporum ground covers up and down the coast.

Why does my tree look so unhappy?

If the damage looks like the photo, it’s probably myoporum thrips (Klambothrips myopori). These insects are recent invaders to California and are affecting Myoporum laetum trees and Myoporum ground covers up and down the coast.

Myoporum thrips are dark brown minute and slender insects, less than 1/10 inches long. They have puncturing and sucking mouth parts and cause damage to young Myoporum laetum leaves which is easily observed by the gall-like swellings and distorted stunted and leaf curling or folding on new shoots. In severely affected trees, die-back begins at the tips and moves towards the trunk.

Close up of typical damage seen in infected Myoporum trees
Courtesy of the UC IPM Pest Notes website
This tree has died and been removed after several years of increasing symptoms

How can I control?

Trees under stress due to drought, poor growing conditions, lack of soil fertility or other environmental problems are especially susceptible. It is evident that the extended drought and lack of water has encouraged thrips spead through out the state. So the first line of defense is to provide good growing conditions. For thrips affected trees, pesticide treatment may also be an option but for heavily infested trees control can be difficult. Article by Robert Muraoka, a licensed California Pest Control Adviser and a Registered Consulting Arborist.

Some pesticides may also kill beneficial insects, such as bees and other pollinators and predators like the minute pirate bug and green lacewings that eat thrips. Since application of effective pesticides that work well to treat thrips is difficult, we recommend seeking professional expertise and hire a licensed applicator with experience treating Myoporum trees if you decide to treat your trees. Consult the University of California IPM website for more information on thrips control. University of Davis Pest Notes Publication

What should I do if my tree is heavily damaged?

For valuable landscape trees, besides improving tree health by improving overall growing conditions, pesticide treatment may be an option. For heavily damaged or dying trees replacement of the tree may with a suitable tree may be the best option.

Hardy Replacement Trees

The following list includes selections that are known to tolerate wind, poor soil, and low water (once established) unless othewise noted. It is suggested that any new tree be watered regularly for the first year or two to establish a healthy root structure!

Click here for printable pdf

View local list of nurseries

Arbutus ‘Marina’ – Strawberry tree
Ceanothus – ‘Ray Hartman’ (please note: more of a shrub that can be trained as a tree)
Corynocarpus laevigatus – New Zealand Laurel (please note: poisonous berry!)
Cupaniopsis anacardioides – Carrot Wood
Geijera parvifiora – Australian Willow
Heteromeles arbutifolia – Toyon (please note: more of a shrub that can be trained as a tree)
Laurus ‘Saratoga’ – Saratoga Bay Laurel
Lyonothamnus floribundus – Catalina Ironwood
Melaleuca ericifolia – Heath Melaleuca
Melaleuca linariifolia – Flaxleaf Paperbark
Melaleuca styphelioides – Black Tea Tree
Melaleuca quinquenervia (aka M. leucadendra) – Cajeput Tree
Pittosporum crassifolium – Karo Tree
Tristaniopsis laurina ‘Elegant’ – Small-Leaf Tristania

Other Club Projects of interest

A sneak peek during installation!

Owl Box at the Marina Library

December 27, 2019 saw the installation of an owl box at Locke Paddon Wetlands Park behind the Marina Library. Rebecca Dmytryk and Duane Titus of Humane Wildlife Control handled the installation of the owl box. Rebecca has kindly shared the Barn Owl Nest Box Plan for download.

Hillcrest Garden Project
Club members gather to install native plants in March of 2018

The Hillcrest Native Plant Garden

This garden was created to provide a welcome respite and green space for the Ken Gray Memorial Tree and Bench. View photos, plans and plant list for this project. Article in the Monterey County Weekly

How a community helped build a garden

This garden began with a single tree—a California live oak. City of Marina Tree committee member, Mike Owen, suggested that the Marina Tree and Garden Club plant a tree to honor former City of Marina Council member Ken Gray. The City gave permission to plant the oak next to the council chambers in January 2016, but the small oak was swallowed up by the barren site.

The club then collected funds to purchase a bench and commemorative plaque to add to the site. A tinted cement pad was added by City Public Works staff for the bench to sit on.

Grace Silva-Santella and Mike Owen define the location of the concrete pad and perfect spot for the bench.

It became obvious that this space needed more than a tree, a bench and some colored concrete. This site could become a welcoming green space in an area dominated by parking lot. It could become a beautiful memorial garden!

Club members Grace Silva-Santella and Juli Hofmann, created a landscape plan, budget, plant list and submitted a proposal to the Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District’s Open Space and Coastal Preservation Grant Program.

Juli Hofmann and Mike Owen admire the newly installed memorial bench.

The club was awarded a grant in early 2017, and the garden quickly took shape. The site defining hardscape rock wall and stone walkway were assembled in one day by local stone masons in February. Another full day by club volunteers accomplished all of the sheet mulching and planting. A Saturday afternoon club crew (with strong hands) assembled the drip system to each and every new plant in March. Coordination with Marina Public Works enabled hook up to city water and the installation of programable irrigation valves to provide reliable, measured water for the new garden.

The oak tree, bench and the garden honor Ken Gray and his service to the community. Ken had a deep appreciation for open space and for the plants and animals of California, as evident in his long career as a naturalist with California State Parks. He was a tireless volunteer, an activist for open space, and he served eight years on the Marina City Council. The hardy, native California plants in this design were chosen to inspire home gardens and provide habitat for birds and pollinators. This new public space offers a welcoming respite for the surrounding Marina community.

The bench was installed in April with a dedication ceremony attended by Ken Gray’s family, friends and associates.

More information on the garden

LINK to Facebook photo Album

Special thanks to the Monterey Peninsula Regional Parks District for providing the funding.

Photos: Juli Hofmann, Pat Clark-Gray, Grace Silva-Santella

Legacy Projects

The Goodwill Garden

The Goodwill Garden Project: November 2011 – May 2021

The Goodwill Garden was located on Imjin Parkway between 2nd and 3rd avenue in Marina, California. Participating agencies included The Marina Tree and Garden Club, HOPE Services, the Veterans Transition Center, The Shoreline Culinary Services Program, Community Hospital Wellness Program, and Everyone’s Harvest.

CSUMB students and volunteers work on ground squirrel covers for the garden beds

The larger garden project was created by Iris Peppard, founder of Everyone’s Harvest, in conjunction with Goodwill Industries that owns the property. The Marina Tree and Garden Club had agreements with Goodwill Industries to maintain 18-24 of the 88 raised beds that were on the property. This project was funded in part by grants from the Department of Agriculture and was a great opportunity for various groups and organizations to grow food in a community based setting.

VTC member and Goodwill gardener Bill, with his bountiful vegetable harvest

The agencies in the garden were HOPE Services, the Veterans Transition Center, The Community Wellness Center, Shoreline Culinary Arts program, and Marina Tree and Garden Club. Everyone’s Harvest had service learning opportunities for students through California State University Monterey Bay. Student service learners were an integral part of developing the garden. This has fostered a deeper respect in students for how to grow food and maintain a garden. We will all deeply miss the people, community and this garden.

CSUMB students and VTC share new skills on a trellis project

The garden had many interesting features, such as a CSUMB student constructed fog catcher, a Hügelkultur mound (also built by a CSUMB student), pollinator plantings, straw bale demo area, sheet mulching, windrow composting, and native plants that are still visible along Imjin Parkway. More historic images of garden activities can be viewed on our facebook site. @marinatreeandgardenclub

Club sponsored straw bale garden demo with Greg Simmons in April of 2017

The 10 years of club activities in one of the largest community garden projects on the Monterey Peninsula has come to an end.

Thiem’s colorful salad mixes were always a treat for the eye

Urban Gardens Project Report

Students from the UC Santa Cruz Biodiversity Department came to study water use and insect diversity in the Goodwill Garden. Monika Egerer from the Environmental Studies Department in Santa Cruz provided leadership in compiling the collected data from 19 food gardens from Santa Cruz to Big Sur. You may read the results of the collected data in the Urban Gardens Project Report Summer 2018 below. This report covers beneficial insects, pollination, pest control and water conservation, and ultimately food access and well-being for gardeners!

Fog Catcher at the Goodwill Garden

CSUMB student Sarah Nolan installed a working fog catcher at the Goodwill Food Garden at Imjin Blvd in Marina May 14, 2014. The fog catcher collected data on site at the Goodwill Garden for a number of years. Sarah was a student of Professor Dan Fernandez of CSUMB and created the fog catcher as part of her capstone project on water sustainability and fog catchers.

Students setting up the fine screen to catch moisture from the air

Photos: Juli Hofmann

Marina Tree and Garden City Tree Campaign

How it all started…

In 1994 the City of Marina Tree Committee began planting areas in the city of Marina as part of a city wide beautification campaign. Many volunteers from our community have participated in planting trees over the years. The Marina Tree and Garden Club adopted and continued planting the greenbelt in 2006. Below is an accounting of the Tree Committee and the Club efforts in establishing and caring for trees in the City of Marina.

All trees, seedlings, seeds, planting materials, and drip systems were provided for from club funds collected from past Marina Tree and Garden Club Garden Tour tickets sales and raffle. All planning, installation, maintenance and care came from volunteers willing to get dirty for a few hours a year.

There are about 60 percolation ponds in the city of Marina that handle storm rain runoff. Many of these sites consist of a chain link fence and a weedy lot with a sandy pit in the center. With the blessing of the city, the club had seeded native buckeyes and coastal oak acorns with the goal of creating more tree areas within the city. Some of these lots are marked for future development by the city.

Unfortunately, not every acorn, seedling or tree planted makes it through the first few critical years on its own. There have challenges with drip systems, mishaps with weedwhackers and misinformed tree trimmers, winter freezes, vandalism, and attrition. For these reasons, our tree planting campaign has transitioned into the Perc Pond project that is focused on planting native trees and shrubs in the front of the city perc ponds.

Marina Tree locations
Del Monte Avenue trees
Landmark trees
Mar Vista trees

Locations of tree planting events:

  • 1998
    Clark Street

    6 cypresses planted
  • 1998
    Vince di Maggio Park

    6 Memorial olive trees planted
  • 1998
    City Percolation Pond Beautification Campaign

    Native oaks and buckeye seeds planted throughout city percolation ponds. Approximately 60 perc ponds seeded.
  • 1998
    Monterey Salinas Transit Center

    Cypress tree planted – sometimes decorated around Christmas season along Reservation Road
  • 1999
    Locke Paddon Monterey Regional County Park

    Sequoia planted.
  • 2001
    Veterans Transition Center

    Hayes Circle – approximately 200 cypress seedlings planted throughout housing area.
  • 2001
    Marina Vista Elementary School
    390 Carmel Avenue
    30 trees planted (various species) around playground perimeter. Some of those trees were mistakenly cut down in 2008 and have not been replaced.
  • 2005
    Del Monte Avenue
     Railroad right of way along bike path. Approximately 40 cypresses planted.
  • 2010
    Vince di Maggio Park

    Del Monte Avenue
    Memorial olive trees planted
  • 2010
    City Percolation Pond Beautification Campaign

    Native oaks and buckeye seeds planted throughout city percolation ponds. Approximately 30 perc ponds re-seeded over earlier plantings.
  • 2011
    City Percolation Pond Beautification Campaign

    Native oaks and buckeye seeds planted throughout city percolation ponds. Approximately 20 perc ponds re-seeded over earlier plantings.
  • 2013
    Goodwill Food Garden

    Monterey cypress seedlings planted in a row along Imjin Blvd by club and community members, HOPE services, and CSUMB volunteers in the fall. Planting extends the cypress row planted by CHOMP Wellness Center. Trees were donated from Goodwille Garden to the Veterans Affairs services next door and planted to the end of the block.
  • 2017
    Hillcrest Native Garden

    The club secured a grant from the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District to create a native plant garden next to city council chambers on Hillcrest Avenue. Past council member Ken Gray is honored at this site with a memorial oak tree and bench, funded by friends, family and the club. More information about this project can be found on this page.

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