Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping blog

16 Sep

Terra Nova’s Ken Foster is teaching the Organic Vegetable Gardening class through Cabrillo College Extension.

Green_Conservation Classes

16 Aug

Help bring back bicycle-powered landscaping DATE HAS CHANGED!

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Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping

Early days of our Tread Lightly Service

Save the new Date

Friday, October 17th 2014

6:00 to 9:00 pm
Kick-off party for the Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for the ‘Tread Lightly’ service
At the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center
35 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA

Apologies for the date change!  We needed more time to prepare an awesome party for the community to help relaunch the ‘Tread Lightly’ service. 

The ‘Tread Lightly’ bicycle-powered landscape service was an authentic, profoundly ecological approach to landscape care. The service was on the road in the Santa Cruz area for over twenty years up until 2012. This funding campaign will help the ‘Tread Lightly’ rubber meet the road again.    


Kick-off event:  For our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign. Catered by India Joze Restaurant, tables with information from sponsorsblue grass music by local musicians, and the premier of a short video about the ‘Tread Lightly’ service.

Purpose: To revive Terra Nova’s ‘Tread Lightly’ service. There will be many opportunities to contribute to the campaign by sponsoring a piece of ‘Tread Lightly’ equipment, from brooms to rakes and bikes to trailers.

Tickets: Advance sliding scale tickets  $15.00 – $25.00 + are available at Brown Paper Tickets
$25.00 at the door

Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping continues to be open for business!


Please join us in bringing this unique service back to Santa Cruz.

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05 Aug

Terra Nova is Bringing Back Bicycle-Powered Landscaping!

 The community is invited to help relaunch Tread Lightly, the pedal-powered landscaping service, with an Indiegogo kickoff party at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center on Friday October 17th, 2014 6:00 – 9:00 pm.

Starting a bicycle-powered landscaping service more than two decades ago, Ken Foster was truly a man ahead of his time. Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping’s “Tread Lightly” service invited the community to think differently about their yards—and more importantly, to act differently. For more than 20 years Terra Nova landscapers pedaled around town towing trailers full of tools, implementing permaculture designs, creating edible landscapes and building food forests.

Ken and Dan King on the ‘Tread Lightly’ route, 1991.

The full 'Tread Lightly' crew 1995

The full ‘Tread Lightly’ crew 1995


“Tread Lightly was an authentic, profoundly ecological approach to landscape care,” Foster says, “and the Santa Cruz community saw the service as a local symbol of innovation and hope.”

Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping continues its good work today, installing water catchment and graywater systems, drought tolerant landscapes, and providing low-impact landscape care service. But the Tread Lightly service, never a big profit maker, was discontinued one year ago. The equipment had aged and deteriorated, and it was hard to justify buying new trailers and bikes.

With a new business plan and marketing strategy in hand Terra Nova is confident that new bikes, custom landscape trailers and the appropriate equipment will ensure that the ‘Tread Lightly’ service gains the success it deserves.

Now Ken, along with friends and sponsors, is asking the community to help bring this valuable service back online.

Terra Nova logo

The Terra Nova Tread Lightly Indiegogo Kickoff Party

On Friday, October 17th, Terra Nova is launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with a goal of raising $50,000 to get the Tread Lightly service rolling again.

Ken, along with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, invites the community to join them at a celebratory event launching the Indiegogo campaign. They will screen the Tread Lightly Indiegogo video. Food will be provided by another legendary Santa Cruz institution, India Joze; wine will be provided by Vino Cruz and the Stockwell Winery; Uncommon Brewers will be there with their uncommon brews; and a local bluegrass band will be providing the music.

Individuals and businesses are invited to contribute to this good Santa Cruz cause by becoming a sponsor and setting up a table at the event.

When: Friday October 17th, 6-9pm.

Where: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center, 35 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz.

Cost: $25 contribution requested at the door with $20.00 advanced tickets available at Brown Paper Tickets.

For more information, contact Ken Foster at (831) 425-3514 or ken@terranovalandscaping.com.

18 Feb

Grey is the New Green! Terra Nova brings 20+ year history with ecological water projects to bear from green landscaping to greywater.

Back in 1991 Terra Nova installed it’s first graywater system. The Santa Cruz Sentinel published the article below highlighting Terra Nova’s landscapes to resist cold and drought damage.

This article was published before the advent of the internet so no online version is available.

As drought visits us again we can recall lessons learned from the past. Time to pull out the stops! Time for graywater, planting drought resistant plants, rainwater catchment, drip systems, rain gardens, bio-swales and plenty of mulch!

Another article in the Sentinel from 2004 about being Water Wise.


While attending college Ken did a report for a landscaping class on Graywater.

Here is a photo of Ken with fellow student Craig Labby.

Ken Foster and Craig Labby 1991

A photo of a mulch basin shut off valve in the system they installed.

Please visit the San Jose Green Home blog to learn the basics on one of the smartest water conservation solutions for times of drought. Here is a link to Ken Foster’s new graywater article posted on the San Jose Green Home blog.


31 Jan

Graywater discount! $50.00 off ‘Laundry to Landscape’ system installed by Terra Nova through the month of March, 2014.


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Terra Nova Ecological Landscaping

Save water and money with a ‘Laundry to Landscape’ graywater system

Laundry to landscape image

Make your landscape more resilient even with water restrictions

Laundry to landscape is exactly what it sounds like, piping the laundry water out to the landscape, using the water twice, once to wash laundry and twice to water your landscape and garden plants. Even though the Governor of California has declared a drought emergency and water restrictions are in place you will still be able to water your landscape with a graywater system.

Act now and receive $50.00 off a graywater system that includes:

  • Three way valve, allows you to direct water to the landscape or to the sewer.
  • Shut off valves in the landscape can be opened or closed as desired.
  • Mulch Basins allows water to infiltrate safely into the soil.

We design your graywater system to ensure the appropriate amount of water is available to landscape and garden plants. Terra Nova is a certified graywater installer providing systems that meet code requirements.

To schedule a free onsite estimate:

Call 831-425-3514 or email ken@terranovalandscaping.com 
(mention “Graywater Special”)
For more information, visit our website:www.terranovalandscaping.com

Rules: $50.00 off offer available through the month of March, 2014.

Help save your landscape with graywater today!

Mulch basin shut off valve image

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Terra Nova

P.O. Box 677

Santa Cruz, California 95061


28 Jan

Terra Nova offers Permaculture Design services.

The owner of Terra Nova, Ken Foster is a certified Permaculture designer and teaches this design science at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. Ken has been studying Permaculture after first hearing about it while an apprentice at the UCSC Farm and Garden back in 1985. He took his first Permaculture Design Course in 1996 and has since completed two advanced Permaculture courses. Ken has been teaching Permaculture since 2004. He has taught with the Regenerative Design Institute during their ‘Four Seasons Permaculture  Design Course’ and with Larry Santoyo of EarthFlow Design Works.

PERMACULTURE DEFINED: Permaculture (permanent agriculture) is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive ecosystems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way. Permaculture design is a system of assembling conceptual, material, and strategic components in a pattern which functions to benefit life in all its forms.

One of “Permaculture is a design system that reconciles human communities with the ecological imperatives of a living planet.” Ben Haggard

Edible Landscaping is a good example of Permaculture.

Give us a call for a free estimate on a Permaculture Design for your site.



21 Jan

The new Terra Nova video just out!

Kory McAdam, Terra Nova Landscape Installation Manager

Lawn alternative

Urbanite walkway


08 Jan

Graywater systems look better and better with water restrictions on the way.

This is what a ‘laundry to landscape’ graywater system looks like. Laundry to landscape is just what it sounds like, piping the laundry water out to the landscape. Using the water twice. Once to wash laundry and twice to water  landscape and garden plants. Now you can feed two birds with one scone.

Santa Cruz begins early planning for deeper water restrictions

By J.M. Brown

Santa Cruz Sentinel

POSTED:   01/03/2014 05:04:42 PM PST
Click photo to enlarge

the San Lorenzo River is at its lowest level since 1991. (Dan Coyro/Sentinel) ( Dan Coyro )

SANTA CRUZ — Receiving just 10 percent of average rainfall since July, the Santa Cruz Water Department announced Friday it has begun planning for the possibility of water rationing for the first time in nearly a quarter century.

With the San Lorenzo River, the primary water supply, flowing at low levels unseen since 1991, Santa Cruz faces the potential of a third consecutive dry year. Average rainfall, recorded from July to June, is typically 12 inches by this point of rain year, but so far only 1.3 inches has been recorded.

“Weather conditions can change quickly in winter, but it will take a lot of rain to make up for not only this recent dry spell but the two previous years, as well,” said Toby Goddard, administrative services manager and head of the water conservation program.

In late January, the Water Department will issue an initial supply outlook for 2014, offering a forecast that takes into account expected weather patterns, stream flow conditions and reservoir levels.

Officials will revise the report in late February before finalizing the assessment in late March. The department may then ask the City Council to take steps to further cut water use.

The council agreed last year to extend restrictions on daytime irrigation and other measures put in place in May 2013 to reduce water use among customers by 5 percent. The city also now asks customers to shut off automatic irrigation systems.

Goddard said the Water Department is working to modify its billing system should rationing be required. He cautioned it is too early to say whether rationing is a real possibility, but said the cutbacks, if necessary, would take place by setting a water-use limit for households and businesses that, when exceeded, would trigger a price increase per unit of water.

The last time the city rationed water was toward the end of a six-year drought in 1990. It has a range of voluntary reduction levels it can put in place depending on the seriousness of the water shortage.

The dryness in Santa Cruz is representative of a statewide problem.

On Friday, the California Department of Water Resources released its first winter snow survey. Readings of the snowpack statewide, which when melted each spring provides critical stream flow, indicates water content is a fifth of the average typically seen this time of year.

The snowpack has no bearing on the water available to Santa Cruz because all of the city’s sources are driven by local rainfall. But the readings confirm 2013 is the driest year on record for many parts of the state.

“While we hope conditions improve, we are fully mobilized to streamline water transfers and take every action possible to ease the effects of dry weather on farms, homes and businesses as we face a possible third consecutive dry year,” said the state’s water resources director, Mark Cowin. “And every Californian can help by making water conservation a daily habit.”


The specter of rationing comes as the city is on the cusp of major developments in its long-term supply planning, including the expected release of findings from a yearlong master conservation planning process. The city’s Water Commission could discuss the plan in February.

At 7 p.m. Monday, the commission will discuss its role in the 14-member Water Supply Advisory Committee approved by the council in November to lead a public exploration of options for the city, which serves 90,000 customers from the North Coast to Live Oak.

The city created the panel after suspending its pursuit of a controversial seawater desalination project amid growing public opposition. Although the city will not pursue an election in 2014 on whether to proceed with the project, it has left desal on the table as a potential solution for the committee to consider.

Applications to serve on the committee are available at www.cityofsantacruz.com, and the deadline to apply is Jan. 13.

Meanwhile, neighboring Soquel Creek Water District also is considering rationing for its 35,000 customers from Capitola to La Selva Beach.

The city’s partner in the stalled desal project needs to reduce groundwater pumping by about 30 percent for 20 years to restore a basin threatened by saltwater intrusion. The governing board voted last year to implement rationing if a new supply isn’t found, but staff has encouraged a closer examination of the financial implications before committing to that path.

The board will discuss rationing at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Capitola Council Chamber, 420 Capitola Ave. During the past few months, the board also has explored the potential for interagency water transfers, wastewater recycling and other measures for supplementing supply.

Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown at Twitter.com/jmbrownreports


WHAT: Discussion of commission’s role on new Santa Cruz Water Supply Advisory Committee
WHEN: 7 p.m. Monday
WHERE: Council Chamber, 809 Center St.
INFORMATION: www.cityofsantacruz.com

16 Dec

Terra Nova was recently re-certified as a green business!


21 Oct

Here is a collage of awards and certificates given to Terra Nova over the years.



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