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Home&Real Estate Home Front OPEN HOME GUIDE 70 Also online at MON E N RAI N T W H O E D D Y LAWN ALTERNATIVES ... Deva Luna, of EarthCare Landscaping, will offer a free workshop on “Smart and Attractive Lawn Alternatives” from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Sept. 15. Focus is on creating beautiful landscaping while conserving water and lowering bills. From 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Sept. 18, a free, educational workday — a hands-on experience in maintaining a native garden — will be held at the Lucie Stern Bay Friendly Demonstration Garden. Volunteers of all ages are welcome, but minors under 18 need a signed waiver to participate, and children 12 and under require an accompanying adult. Gloves and tools will be provided; bring water bottle, sturdy shoes and long pants. Both events will be held at the Lucie Stern Community Center, Community Room, 1305 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto. Information: Space is limited and pre-registration is required. Call 650-329-2241 for lawn alternatives, 650-496-5910 or Paul Hepie,, for hands-on workday. YOGA FOR GARDENERS ... Common Ground Center Manager (and yoga teacher) Patricia Becker will offer “Yoga for Gardeners with Live Music” from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Common Ground, 559 College Ave., Palo Alto. The class will emphasize how to care for knees, back and shoulders while stretching to live music by Herb Moore. Bring a beach towel or blanket. Cost is $31. Information: 650-493-6072 or www. MORE LAWN OPTIONS ... The California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter, is organizing a symposium — “Lawn Alternatives: Do-It-Yourself Native Plantscaping” — from 8:45 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Foothill College, Lecture Hall 8338, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills. Designed for both homeowners and landscape professionals, the program includes garden design, plant selection, lawn removal and maintenance, as well as a plant and book sale. The symposium is co-sponsored by Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency and Santa Clara Valley Water District and hosted by the Foothill College Environmental Horticultural Department. Cost is $85 general, $75 CNPS members by Sept. 15; $100 at the door. Information:, symposium@ or 650-260-3450. N Send notices of news and events related to real estate, interior design, home improvement and gardening to Home Front, Palo Alto Weekly, P.O. Box 1610, Palo Alto, CA 94302, or email cblitzer@ Deadline is one week before publication. Spikes in water bills may be caused by leaky pipes by Helen Carefoot B ills come in the mail nearly everyday, though occasionally, one contains a surprise: a charge for water you did not think you used. Leaking pipes or fixtures in your home or yard, such as a toilet or a garden hose, may be responsible for unusually high water bills. Many people become the victims of slow leaks, or small, steady streams of water dripping from faucets or showerheads when they are not in use. Though the leaks are usually small, the financial burden they add is not: A single leaking faucet can waste up to 350 gallons of water a month, while a leaky irrigation system can potentially waste up to 15,000 gallons of water monthly. “Customers are really shocked and don’t understand where (the extra charges) are coming from,” said Joyce Kinnear, manager of utility marketing services for the City of Palo Alto. “If the leak is really bad, the bill could be thousands of dollars. The bill will be higher depending on how fast the leak is.” According to Kinnear, dripping toilets and sinks are the most common cause of indoor leaks. One leaking toilet is capable of wasting up to 14 gallons of water daily, while a sink with even the smallest leak can waste up to nine gallons of water per day. “A leaky toilet can easily double or triple the bill, while a leaky house sprinkler can increase the bill by 20 or 30 times,” she said. Outdoors, leaky sprinkler systems are the main concern because they receive a lot of wear and tear and can be easily hidden in large yards by plants or yard decorations. “People often don’t even notice their sprinkler head is broken,” Kinnear said. “Sometimes they are hidden under bushes or plants, so it’s hard to see that they are damaged or even missing a head.” Leaks are often the result of aging water systems and pipes. Old pipe or irrigation systems can develop cracks or fractures that spew water or leak. As a result, water is released from the appliance even when it is not in use. Though many larger outdoor leaks are caused by cracks and holes in aging infrastructure, the age of the appliance itself can be blamed for causing smaller leaks in more common appliances like toilets and faucets. Errant water use may also be to blame: Keeping the faucet on while it is not in use wastes money. In addition to denting your bank account, slow leaks can also cause significant damage to your home. Even a modest amount of leaking water can spill over and cause water damage to walls and floors, while broken ‘If the leak is really bad, the bill could be thousands of dollars. The bill will be higher depending on how fast the leak is.’ Joyce Kinnear, manager of utility marketing services, City of Palo Alto (continued on page 43) ÜÜÜ°*>œÌœ"˜ˆ˜i°Vœ“ÊUÊ*>œÊÌœÊ7iiŽÞÊUÊ-i«Ìi“LiÀÊ£{]ÊÓä£ÓÊU Page 41

Palo Alto Weekly 09.14.2012 - Section 2

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