Client Profile – Gutierrez Residence, Cayey, Puerto Rico, USA

Saturday, March 21, 2009

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When we talk about Vetiver grass in the role of erosion control and soil stabilization, we tend to focus on the big coastal protection projects, the railroad mountain passes, and the many rural roads made safe by securing the slopes to avoid a landslide. But we do not have to be structural engineers to step back from those mega-projects and look at our own backyard to see where Mother Earth could use a helping hand.

That is what the Gutierrez family did when a friend passed on a Vetiver flyer that he had received from me. The Gutierrez had just completed a major renovation of a beautiful house in the central highlands of Cayey, Puerto Rico, with a spectacular view of the mountain range and a panorama of the north shore of the island. The finely crafted wood terraces, however, rested in a poorly compacted mound that already showed signs of surface erosion across its lengthy slope. A poorly erected wall at the bottom would have no effect on the surface soil loss that was already evident.

Determined to avoid a massive and unsightly concrete structure on their backyard, the Gutierrez picked up the Vetiver plants, popularly known in Puerto Rico as Pacholí, directly from our nursery and spent some time understanding the concepts of The Vetiver System. With minimal assistance from us, they did their own planting using neighborhood help. At just over six months, as seen in more pictures in this Picasa Album, the slope is green and stable, and they will now proceed with additional landscaping of their gardens. We congratulate the Gutierrez on a job well done!

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