In Robert Kourik’s garden is a green, lush bed of foxglove and lavender and other lovelies that haven’t been irrigated for 20 years. He started the bed on drip irrigation for three years, but then weaned it off water.
It’s that kind of garden magic that the practical Kourik is known for in plant circles – that and being the “graywater guru” and root expert.
Kourik, nationally recognized author and sustainable landscape designer, is giving a free presentation on "Roots Demystified: Change Your Gardening Habits to Help Roots Thrive” on Tuesday, March 20, at the Windsor Garden Club meeting. Meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. with refreshments, and Kourik’s presentation begins at 6:45 p.m. in the community room at the Windsor Senior Center, 9231 Foxwood Drive.
The author, freelance writer and landscape designer lives in Occidental, in the middle of a garden featuring lavender, spreading oak trees, and visits from lots of deer. An expert at drip and greywater irrigation, he fills his 20-year-old garden with drought- and deer-resistant plants he’s weaned off water and only mulches, “no tilling allowed,” he says on his website,
Kourik easily fits the definition of a Renaissance man. He’s the author and publisher of “Designing and Maintaining your Edible Landscape – Naturally” (1986); “Gray Water Use in the Landscape” (1988) and “Drip Irrigation for Every Landscape and All Climates” (1992). He’s the author of “Pruning, Clipping with Confidence” (1997); “The Lavender Garden” (1998); and “The Tree & Shrub Finder” (2000).
In all, he’s written 10 books on topics including drip irrigation, environmentally sound homes, edible landscaping, and lavender. His articles have appeared in numerous national publications, including seven in The New York Times. He has received two national awards for the best article of the year from the Garden Writers Association.
Kourik started his career in organic landscape maintenance in 1974, at a time when there were no convenient pellet organic fertilizers for lawns and virtually no guidelines on sustainable gardening. “It was seat-of-the-pants learning,” he writes.
During the next 25 years, he honed his horticulture-related skills by working with clients throughout California and the U.S. During that time, he worked on design projects of all sizes, shapes, and textures—water gardens, paths and patios, arbors, habitat gardens, innovative home playgrounds, outdoor barbecue areas, deer-resistant gardens and landscapes, and low-profile and attractive deer fences, to name a few.
His “Edible Landscaping” book has become a recognized classic in its field, helping to define the concept. Along the way, he served on Santa Barbara’s Graywater Task Force and helped write that county’s graywater ordinance – the first legal graywater ordinance in the U.S., he notes. From 1992 to 1994 he wrote the City of Malibu’s graywater ordinance.
He’s done it all on a high school diploma. It’s his lack of formal college training in horticulture that enabled him to envision and interpret new and interdisciplinary approaches to gardening and landscaping, he says.
“I’ve received much of my early training (and numerous continuing education credits) in life skills from the School of Hard Knocks,” he writes. “I’m still trying to graduate.”