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Ripon home builders will soon have new landscape guidelines
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When it comes to residential landscaping, the City Ripon is seeking to maintain its historic character while using less water as new homes are being built.

This, of course, is influenced by the requirements of the state-mandated water conservation efforts of the past year.

City Council recently approved the final draft on the design guidelines for residential landscaping.

Once adopted, home builders would be required to meet and implement these standards for front yard with all new development.

“(They) will follow the guidelines and submit plans to the Planning Department to ensure that they are in compliance,” said Planning Director Ken Zuidervaart.

The ordinance can provide some additional environmental benefits, including less use of pesticides and fertilizers, and less green waste and use of fossil fuel due to scaling down traditional front-yard lawns.

The design guidelines, instead, would call for low-watering shrubs and plants – one example is use of herbaceous perennial plant species – to “create a low and continuous groundcover.”

Director of Public Works Ted Johnston indicated on numerous occasions that Ripon uses most of its water on landscaping.

Front lawns, historically, have been used extensively throughout the city.

Natural grass could be limited to small areas or completely phased out, according to the guidelines.

Synthetic lawn would be one option along with non-living groundcover such as decomposed granite, ornamental aggregate, cobble bounders, river rock, pea gravel, and tumble glass mulch, to name a few.

Organic or bark mulch may be used within the shrub and groundcover areas but not as a standalone landscape without plants.

The design guidelines also call for accessories such as low walls, seat walls, fences, pieces of art or containers that could incorporated into the landscape “as part of a cohesive and comprehensive landscape design.”

Trees, in addition, are not only an integral part of any landscape design while providing other purposes – they’re aesthetically pleasing, provider of shade to reduce heat, producer of oxygen while mitigating green-house gas emissions, and helpful in slowing the process of wildlife.

The use of high water-using trees such as redwood should be avoided, according to the draft.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail