2021 REGENERATION REPORT
Updated: May 23
Beyond expanding into new locations, Kitchen Door has more exciting plans for fulfilling our mission and making a positive environmental impact.
We are so proud of the year we’ve had at Kitchen Door. Our mission is to elevate life outside of the home, and it was a joy to work with you and to help transform your outdoor space into something unique. The passion and vision of our clients is what makes this work so special. Thank you for being part of it with us.
Though you engage with your outdoor space daily, whether hosting friends for a garden party or plucking ripe tomatoes for dinner, the extent of your environmental impact as a member of the Kitchen Door community is not immediately visible. The purpose of this document is to give you a sense of how your landscaping project is part of a larger effort to change the way homeowners interact with the ecosystems we inhabit. Each yard we transform not only improves the local environment but has the potential to ripple out into the world as you and your visitors are brought into closer connection with the living planet. Our ambition as a company is to upend the status quo of chemical intervention, ecological degradation, and resource exploitation that defines landscaping in this country. We set out to demonstrate that there is no inherent conflict in the creation of aesthetically pleasing, usable, ecologically beneficial, and agriculturally productive outdoor spaces. In just our second year, we have proven this to be true. The next challenge is to bring our vision to scale. In the next five years, we hope to offer Kitchen Door’s services in 50 markets in the United States.
We are in the early stages of forging partnerships with businesses such as hotels, hospitals, universities, and developers to bring our designs and regenerative approach to new spaces. We plan to offer even more services to augment ecological utility and resiliency, such as edible mushroom inoculation of mulch and lacewing introduction for pest management. We are eager to share our progress in these areas with you in the near future.
traditional landscaping is mass-produced, unsustainable, and uninspiring
There have been no significant updates to residential landscaping since the turf lawn tradition was established in response to growing suburban housing and widespread motorized maintenance in the 1950s & 60s.
Kitchen Door aims to demonstrate that there is a better way forward for humanity on the planet. Let's dive into the changes that we can make in our own yards.
Healthy, bioactive soil is the foundation of any successful and productive garden. Chemical additives and lack of regular soil treatment have degraded the soil in many of our customers’ homes. Creating the conditions for robust plant growth is critical to our work, and we take pride in our implementation of ecological design principles and organic amendments that preclude the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Across all of our projects this year, we improved 67,603 square feet of land with soil amendments, including compost and beneficial microbial tea, the positive results of which will play out over many years as nutrients are incorporated into the soil ecosystem.
67,603 SF IN SOIL REMEDIATION
Compost Tea - Edaphic Solutions
Kitchen Door has partnered with Shelby Kaminski of Edaphic Solutions in spraying compost tea – a living, nutrient rich solution for plants and soil – on all of our projects. In total, we sprayed 830 gallons of compost tea on 17 yards total. Compost tea is a highly-concentrated liquid form of compost that is made by extracting and multiplying beneficial microbes in aerated water. The finished product is a living “tea” that functions as fertilizer as well as a nontoxic pesticide. Conventional products such as chemical pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides end up killing these beneficial microbes, which adversely affects plant and soil health over time. We aim to provide this service in every market in 2022.
elimination of synthetic pesticides & herbicides
Pesticides and herbicides in a garden, like antibiotics in a human body, can be effective at treating acute disease or an outbreak of an unwanted pathogen or pest species. However, pesticides and herbicides can also cause significant collateral damage, particularly when used routinely. In a garden, chemical intervention means the destruction of undesired pests but also beneficial bacteria, fungi, and insects. This begins a feedback loop. Without those beneficial microbes and animals, the food web, breakdown of organic matter, and recycling of nutrients fundamental to any healthy ecosystem are interrupted. This in turn incentivizes the gardener to add artificial fertilizers to replace those lost nutrients, and to continue to use pesticides and herbicides when tough and often invasive weed species recolonize the hostile environment chemical intervention has created. The detrimental effects of synthetic chemicals are not limited to the creatures in our yard – our health is impacted too. Common herbicides have been shown to increase our risk of cancer. We can avoid this fate through thoughtful design and organic maintenance until we have achieved balance in a self-regulating garden ecosystem.
We employ companion planting strategies in our designs to attract pest predators and use no synthetic pesticides or herbicides in our installations. We use organic and biological solutions such as neem oil and DiPel in our maintenance services.
biodiverse, pollinator-friendly habitats
Urban and suburban spaces, where Kitchen Door works, are actually diverse ecosystems. We design our projects to create habitat for the many beneficial, beautiful, and fascinating creatures that live alongside us. We create usable and enjoyable spaces for our human clients that simultaneously provide resources for the flora and fauna that define our local ecologies.
Across our residential projects in Denver, Austin, and Houston this year, we created 1.5 acres of habitat for local flora and fauna.
1.5 ACRES HABITAT FOR LOCAL FLORA AND FAUNA
Another important benefit of a garden with a native plant palette is reduced water consumption. Droughts are becoming a permanent feature of life in the American West, and the ubiquitous midcentury ideal of the manicured green lawn is quickly becoming outdated and unsustainable. In many cities across the US, residents spend half of their yearly water bill irrigating outdoor spaces. Kentucky bluegrass, the preferred species for lawn, is the most widely cultivated plant in the country, and one of the thirstiest.
To divert less water from the river systems and aquifers that are the lifeblood of ecosystems across the continent, Kitchen Door aims to reduce the amount of lawn space dedicated to grass by 50% in each project. We accomplished this goal in 2021!
1,924,020 GALLONS OF WATER PER YEAR REDUCED FROM LAWN IRRIGATION
In keeping with our commitment to ecologically-sound practices, we are strong proponents of biodegradable sheet mulching in our installations to stifle unwanted weeds and enrich the soil for the plants featured in our designs.
Instead of a layer of polypropylene or polyester fabric underneath mulch groundcover, we recommend the use of cardboard or a thick layer of mulch with no barrier. Like synthetic weed fabric, cardboard or a thick mulch layer blocks weeds and other “volunteer” seeds from sprouting by making the soil impenetrable to light and creating a physical barrier between the sprouts and the surface. Unlike synthetic fabric, however, these biodegradable options break down and release nutrients into the soil slowly to the benefit of the plants in the area. The roots of the featured plants and the shade they cast as they grow serve to exclude weeds after the cardboard is gone.
Kitchen Door prioritizes local partnerships, both to support our communities and cut down on transportation emissions. A key partner in this effort is Cambium Carbon, a social enterprise that is addressing climate change by turning wood waste into products that fund new tree plantings.
Carbon Smart Wood is wood that is diverted from local landfills and locally processed into products whose profits restore urban canopy in the communities that need it most. Kitchen Door works with Cambium Carbon to source Carbon Smart Wood for wooden project elements, including raised beds, furniture, decking, fencing, mulch, and even planter boxes.
All organisms require carbon to build their bodies, and plants, which pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as their source of carbon, are a critical component of any long-term strategy to reduce the high concentrations of carbon dioxide we have created as a result of fossil fuel use. While impossible to measure precisely, across all Kitchen Door projects in 2021 we have planted enough trees, shrubs, and perennials to sequester more than 50 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
50 METRIC TONS OF CARBON SEQUESTERED THROUGH PLANTED MATERIALS
food resilience / self-sufficiency
One of the integral missions of our company is to build connections between people and their environments, to foster topophilia. Kitchen Door aims to include edible plants – herbs, veggies, and fruit – in every one of our designs. The process of cultivating edible plants is a wonderful way to reconnect with the Earth and the ecosystems that we inhabit, and it is one of the most impactful steps an individual can take to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Topophilia: a strong sense of place, which often becomes mixed with the sense of cultural identity among certain people and a love of certain aspects of such a place.
In our current system of centralized agricultural production, food often travels thousands of miles from farms to packing and distribution centers before making it to a grocery store across the street from you, even if the product itself is labeled as being sourced locally. Not only are all these “food miles'' an unnecessary carbon cost, they are also inefficient. By growing our own fruit, veggies, and herbs, we excise these carbon and supply chain costs entirely while simultaneously reclaiming the transformative experience of growing delicious and healthy food for our families just outside the kitchen door.
With a design-first approach, we consider how to maximize the usability and engagement with each space we transform. The Rawson family had a side yard full of grass and weeds. We transformed it into an edible oasis with six vegetable beds, a seating area, and a custom arbor. This space not only produces food, but also fosters a deeper connection between the Rawson's and the land they occupy, providing opportunities for learning and growth for their family. It’s wonderful to see the transformation of a typical landscaped space into a diverse, unique, and colorful side yard using Kitchen Door’s innovative designs.
Composting is a great way to simultaneously reduce waste and build healthier soils. Whether you do it in your backyard, or sign up for a city pick-up service, composting is a great way to reduce waste and promote regeneration.
grow your own food
Growing our own fruit, veggies, and herbs simultaneously cuts out “food miles" and creates valuable habitat and resources for other organisms in our local ecosystems. Reclaim the experience of growing delicious and healthy food for your families from the industrial agriculture industry!
sustainable garden care
Once a regenerative garden has been installed, it’s important to continue to employ ecological practices in our ongoing garden care and maintenance. We strongly encourage our clients to get out in the garden and work the earth themselves, but we recognize that ecological gardening is a time-consuming craft, and we are here to help if you need us.