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Meet Shelkie Tao | Green Gardener Spotlight

Rain garden

Shelkie loves that California is a biodiversity hotspot, with a wide variety of native plants to choose from.

Shelkie Tao of Water Efficient Garden is a professional landscaper, sustainable gardening enthusiast, and a recent graduate of the Santa Clara Valley Green Gardener training program.  Shelkie enjoys gardening as a way to relax, stay healthy, and connect with nature – and all while adding beauty to the world.  She describes designing landscapes as akin to painting or writing.  “When the plants have grown and bloomed, it feels a little like what an artist might feel who has just finished a satisfactory piece.”  In her craft, Shelkie works to help her customers create yards that are beautiful, practical and environmentally-friendly.

Average home with barren front yard

Before: A large, barren plot of sand.

Green Gardener participants learn effective ways to reduce air pollution, water pollution, and water runoff while gardening.  For instance, growing California native plants is a great way to minimize pesticide and water usage because they have adapted to the local climate and ecology.  Many of Shelkie’s favorite flowers are natives, including California Lilacs (Ceanothus spp.), Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus), and Western Redbud (Cercis occidentalis).  She says that these and many other native plants make wonderful elements in a garden.

Average house with California native plants

After: A rain garden with hardy plants like California native Sticky Monkey Flower (Mimulus aurantiacus). For more details on this garden, read Shelkie’s blog post.

Shelkie’s specialty?  Low-water landscapes and rain gardens. If a customer wants a new lawn or yard design, Shelkie uses drought tolerant grasses and native plants whenever possible. For pavements, she discusses the option of permeable surfaces to capture water and reduce runoff. For irrigation, she recommends smart controllers with rain sensors to prevent overwatering. Shelkie explains that water-efficient gardens can have many benefits: enhanced property values, lower water bills and maintenance costs, and a positive impact on the environment.

Shelkie treats water as a precious resource in all areas of her life. In 2017, she ran in the New York Marathon by fundraising for a sustainable water organization.  And whenever planning a landscape, Shelkie always considers eco-conscious water usage. Her home garden includes many drought-tolerant, native plants and a small rain garden to help store rainwater, reduce urban runoff, and prevent polluting local waterways. Shelkie believes that, with the right approach, we can all do our part to protect the vibrant, beautiful ecosystem of San Francisco Bay.

Front of newly landscaped home.

Read gardening tips on Water Efficient Gardens’ Blog, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook.

Water Efficient Garden is in the South Bay Area.  Learn more about Shelkie’s landscaping design services, low-water garden planning, and sustainable landscape rebate programs at WaterEfficientGarden.com

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