Manchaca club practices sustainable living

Diana Heinig, founder of the Chaparral Park Sustainable Living Club, practices sustainable living methods on her property which include practices such as gardening, native landscaping, drought tree care, water harvesting and beekeeping. (photos by Kim Kilsenbeck)



Like-minded people getting together — that is exactly how the Chaparral Park Sustainable Living Club came to be.

Their like-mindedness includes sustainable living practices such as gardening, native landscaping, drought tree care, water harvesting and beekeeping.

“Our main purpose is to share ideas, learn and help each other,” said Diana Heinig, the club’s organizer.

Heinig said the club, which started about a year ago, has about 40 to 50 members. Most hail from the Chaparral Park and surrounding neighborhoods in the northeast section of Hays County.

But Heinig said members also come from other neighborhoods along FM 1626. While she would welcome people from anywhere in Hays County, Heinig said she hopes hearing about her club will inspire other neighborhoods to form their own.

Each month, Heinig organizes a speaker, sometimes from the neighborhood, to share information on a selected topic. The club is casual, according to Heinig. People may come to all the meetings, or just the ones that really interest them.

“It’s also a social club in some ways,” Heinig said. “We just enjoy getting together.”

Learning about sustainable practices like gardening and landscaping on your own can be daunting, says Heinig. That’s where clubs like this one help ease people into it.

“We each bring our own ideas and suggestions to the club,” said Heinig. “And we all ask questions. It’s about sharing our knowledge.”

Heinig’s yard is a veritable array of sustainable landscaping, trees and gardens; she favors salvia, lantana, cactuses, esperanza, agave and grasses for landscaping.

“Two plants that do well are the Jerusalem Sage and the Wooly Butterfly Bush,” she said.

For small trees and bushes, Heinig said she likes desert willows, mountain laurels and American Beautyberry.

Her winter garden was full of red leaf lettuce. So much, Heinig said, she’s invited neighbors and club members to pick some for themselves. One of the ideas tossed around in the Sustainable Living Club is to have each member grow certain vegetables and then everyone can share.

Heinig has spent many hours outside planting, landscaping and creating a space to enjoy the outdoors and the wildlife that call her backyard home.

She had her yard designated a Certified Backyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. As part of the deal, she provides water, shelter and food for animals. Examples of food include native plants, seeds, fruits, nuts, berries and nectar.

She also raises chickens.

A guest speaker from the Travis County Master Gardener Association is scheduled to discuss drought resistant landscaping design at the March meeting.

For more information about joining the Chaparral Park Sustainable Living Club, or starting your own, contact Diana Heinig at

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