La Plaza Garden is a water-ecient demonstration garden that conserves valuable resources. In a time of drought and rising energy costs, re-thinking how we design our landscapes has never been more important.
Growing in this garden are examples of beautiful, drought-tolerant, primarily native landscaping that is long lasting, locally available, and easy to grow.
By using climate-appropriate plants, deep mulching, and porous pathways, we have created a “water harvesting”landscape or “living sponge”that allows water to inltrate the soil throughout the garden, thus recharging the aquifer and giving plants a water resource during the dry summer months. In addition, as plant roots grow and soil life increases, the soil’s ability to inltrate and hold water steadily improves.
Conservation techniques used in the garden:
Organic matter added to the soil – holds moisture, adds fertility,
stores nutrients, boosts soil life, us soil
Deep mulching – slows evaporation, cools soil, adds fertility,
boosts soil life, smothers weeds
Dense plantings – shade soil, smother weeds
Decomposed granite pathways – allow water to penetrate
through to the soil below
Soil contouring or earthworks – catches water, directs water
where needed, helps plants and soil life survive both wet and dry periods, builds humus, adds visual interest
Earthwork methods used in the garden:
Dry Creek Bed – an attractive rock-lined V-ditch that moves
surface run-o to a catch basin
Inltration Basin – rock-lined catch basin to catch excess surface
water run-o and inltrate into soil
Gravel-lled Trenches – a means of inltrating water more deeply
into the garden beds, rather than allowing it to run o site into storm drains
It is important to:
Slow water down to take velocity out of the flow, and to allow
water to inltrate into soil rather than run o site into storm drains.
Size ditches and catch basin structures appropriately to handle rainwater volume.
Use existing storm drains for back up flow in large water volume rain events.
Drought Tolerant and Insectary Plants:
Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region by The East Bay Municipal Water District, 2004
Sunset Western Garden Book Sunset Publishing Corporation
The Melissa Garden, a Honeybee Sanctuary: www.themelissagarden.com
California Native Plants:
California Native Plants for the Garden by Carol Bornstein, David Fross and Bart O’Brien; Cachuma Press, 2005
California Native Plant Link Exchange: www.cnplx.info
California Native Plant Society: www.cnps.org
Larner Seeds: www.larnerseeds.com
Las Pilitas / extensive native plant information: www.laspilitas.com
Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond, Volumes 1 and 2 by Brad Lancaster; Rainsource Press, 2008
Brad Lancaster’s information-packed website: www.harvestingrainwater.com
Compost and mulch:
Sonoma Compost: www.sonomacompost.com
Bay Friendly Gardening: www.stopwaste.org/home/index.asp?page=8
Gaia’s Garden, A Guide to Home-Scale Permaculture by Toby Hemenway; Chelsea Green Publishing, 2000
Food Not Lawns, How to Turn Your Yard Into a Garden and Your Neighborhood Into a Community by Heather C. Flores; Chelsea Green Publishing, 2006
Occidental Arts and Ecology Center: www.oaec.org
Regenerative Design Institute: www.regenerativedesign.org