Colorful California Landscape: A Water-Friendly Garden
Colorful California Landscape:  A Water-Friendly Garden


A photo tour and explanation of our irrigation and drainage systems can be found in the Irrigation Tour section of this website.

Whenever water leaves a property it has the ability to take pollutants with it.  Fertilizers, pesticides and oil are easily picked up by the power of water.  While this runoff is greatest during rain storms, urban runoff occurs all year round as a result of improper irrigation, washing cars, and hosing down driveways.  Runoff from residential landscapes affects the quality of our oceans and the quality of our lives.  The sediment in water reduces clarity; nutrients increase algae populations and red ties; bacteria close beaches; debris can choke and suffocate aquatic species; and pesticides picked up off a landscape can poison fish consumed by humans - all of which degrade the natural beauty, and our enjoyment, of the ocean.


Increasing the permeability in a landscape has two crucial benefits.  Permeable surfaces tend to slow the water sheeting over them, allowing harmful sediment to drop.  Increasing permeability spreads the process of water infiltration over a greater area, not relying wholly on the retention area.  Permeability revolves around replacing non-pervious surfaces with those that allow water, at least to some degree, to infiltrate into the soil.  Some of the techniques used to increase permeability are redesigning driveways, rethinking the paths that lead around a house, and getting creative with patios.  See the website for an article regarding alternatives to concrete and other impermeable surfaces.


Retaining water in a landscape is an essential part of a water-friendly garden.  Retention gives the water an opportunity to infitrate to an aquifer below.  To some degree, almost every urban/surburban city depends on ground water for some part of its total municipal supply.  Infiltration can directly contribute to a community's water supply.  Retention devices include retentation basins, dry wells, and swales.  However, there are communities, areas, and landscapes that can ill affort to load up the land with water.  These areas may be prone to slides, or sit above areas known for erosion.  For landscapes that cannot afford to keep water on-site, the goal becomes screening the exiting water.  Screening involves slowing the water to allow particles to drop, or running the water through a filtering device.  

We incorporated water retention in the use of the CUDO Cubes buried under the dry river rock bed.  Three 60-gallon CUDO cubes store 180 gallons of storm water, which is slowly released into the soil rather than wasted runoff into the street gutters.  They are made in the USA using injection molded polypropylene plastic.

These cubes were placed in a hole dug in the front yard, covered with landscape cloth (to keep the dirt out), and cobble.  The dirt from the hole was used to build the burm.

The river rock and plants installed on top of the CUDO cubes provides an aesthetic look to this catch basin.  Below is how the area looked 1 year after the remodel.  Rain water on the roof drains into roof gutters which diverts the water down to the river rock bed.

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Stewardship requires the recognition that we are all caretakers of the environment and economy for the benefit of present and future generations. We must balance the impacts of today's decisions with the needs of future generations. - The Minnesota Round Table on Sustainable Development (1998)