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waterefficient GardeninG

La Plaza Garden is a water-ecient 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 inltrate 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 inltrate 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, us 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

  • Inltration Basin – rock-lined catch basin to catch excess surface

water run-o and inltrate into soil

  • Gravel-lled Trenches – a means of inltrating 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 inltrate 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.

Educational Resources

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

Water Harvesting:

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

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