New Crush

Is it weird to have a crush on a hardware store?

After many years of being the cobbler with no shoes, I am finally getting around to working on my own garden. Before I can get into the fun phase of choosing and installing plants, I need to work on some of the more structural pieces of the puzzle. This includes some grading and drainage, fencing, water harvesting and irrigation, decks and railings. Of course, this is all fun, too, but in a different way.

The decks — several layers of them — are some of the first things I need to tackle. That brings me to the myriad options of decking material that are out there. And that lead me to Ganahl Lumber in Pasadena last week to take a look at what they offer. The store is “new”; it just opened in February this year. It used to be an auto dealer. They have done a lot of work on the building and property and you can see it immediately upon arriving.

First, someone really put some thought into the landscaping. The parking spaces in front are done with permeable paving that allows rainwater to filter down into the ground below. (Unfortunately, the rest of the parking area is covered in asphalt and it’s not clear why they stopped short of doing the whole lot, though it could have to do with bearing the loads of the large trucks that pass through.)

Although only a small area is planted, it is sensitive to the site and not at all your typical “big box” formula of sticking a few Indian Hawthorn and Lily-of-the-Nile in random leftover spaces that are not paved over. There are California Sycamore trees buffering the lot from busy Colorado Boulevard. As they grow, they will provide shade to the parked cars beneath them. The trees anchor a bioswale that will help to collect and direct storm water. The swale looks like a dry creek bed with an assortment of  attractive rocks and gravel. It is planted with several kinds of Agaves, Juncus (a grass-like rush) and some low, spreading Manzanita. They also included one of my all-time favorite California native trees, Catalina Ironwood. Although small now, they will be gorgeous as they mature, with their beautiful bark and elegantly cut leaves.

Next, upon finally going inside the building (after taking many pictures outside), I noticed that the roof is perforated with skylights, like solar tubes, that let in an abundance of natural daylight. There are supplemental halogen light fixtures hanging from the ceiling, but many fewer than would be needed without the sunlight that floods the store. I’m sure this saves a considerable amount of electricity. Near the entrance there is a nice collection of framed, historical photographs that relate to the location of the store. Although this is not a “sustainability feature”, per se, it does show a connection to place and context.

Finally, the customer service I got from Lauryn was fantastic. She patiently showed me all of the decking options they offer and talked me through the merits and drawbacks of each one. She gave me samples and answered a lot of questions.

So now I have work to do. I’ll be comparing the prices and looking at the environment sustainability of each option before making a decision.

Bioswale

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