I’m not a certified master gardener, but I do have a few really good ideas about pulling together a nice outdoor area, whether you have a yard, or a balcony. And I’m pretty good at finding stuff for free.
Did you know you can get free compost at the Sunnyvale Smart Station? You can. You may need to show them proof of residence, and you will definitely need a container with a cover if the compost is going in your car, because it’s a little stinky, but it’s powerful stuff and it’s free. Drive right up to the pile, use their shovels, or bring your own, and fill up your plastic bin, cardboard box, whatever container you have. Some people fill up their entire truck bed, and it’s still free. The compost is made from yard trimmings from our community. Thank you, Recology, for this awesome free pile of compost!
Have you been to the Mountain View Garden Center? They've been here since 1965. I call it the “Rockery” and they have tons (literally) of different kinds of rocks, gravel and dirt. Yes, you can get a small amount, or you can fill up an entire truck and they’ll weigh your vehicle so they know how much to charge you. If you just want a bag full (just a small amount), go to their office first and get a bag. They’ll either weigh the bag, or your entire car. It’s really fun to look around at all the options. The hardest part is unloading the rocks once you get home.
Whenever I hear tree trimmers cutting down anything in my neighborhood, I drive by to see what the branches look like and whether or not I want any of them. It turns out that tree trimmers are really friendly and will happily put pieces of wood in your trunk for you. They’ll even cut them nice and even for you, if you tell them that you want to use it as a table/plant stand. I have 4 or 5 pieces of trees in my yard right now. I went to Lowes last week and bought a cheap wood circle and screwed it down on an oak stump and now it’s a super-sturdy table made out of a tree on Pettis Street.
Summerwinds Mountain View, the one behind the BMW dealer, is closing on Oct 29th, but the one on San Antonio Road is will still open.
If you really want to see some spectacular garden centers, you need to drive to Half Moon Bay. They’re all on Highway 92, just before you reach Highway 1. There are probably 10 different places to stop, and they’re all really interesting.
Los Altos Nursery is only open in spring and summer. They have the best plants around! They’re family owned and operated. And the employees are all helpful and knowledgable.
I got 2 dorm room bunkbed ladders from a guy who got them from Stanford and sold them on Craigslist. I screwed them together and love that they create elevation among my tomato plants and give the neighbors vines something to climb on. And it’s just cool that they came from Stanford dorms and they cost me 5 bucks each.
If you have fruit trees that produce too much for you to handle, you can contact Village Harvest. Their volunteers will come pick it for you and give it to Community Services Agency and it will be distributed to families, and homeless people in our community. CSA gets lemons, oranges, plums, apricots, apples, pears, cherries and more from them. Both organizations, Community Services Agency and Village Harvest, need volunteers. Remember, before we were Silicon Valley, we were the world's largest fruit producing region. Many of those old fruit trees are still around, and now they're massive and producing massive quantities of fruit, far more than one family could ever use. Spread the love.
If you need help with yard work, or anything related to outdoor work, the Dayworker Center is a wonderful nonprofit in our community. Go to their website and tell them what you need help with and they’ll connect you to someone with that skill. The next day, you go to the center on Escuela Street and pick up your employee. You’ll need to provide lunch for them, and whatever tools they need for the job. The center is very reliable, and well established in our community and they know each of their workers so you shouldn’t feel nervous about anything.