When Eric Woodhouse and Jill Thomas bought their Mill Valley property there was a small older home and an overgrown landscape in the steep backyard. Now a new Greenpoint-rated home and terraces have transformed the site. Artistic stonework steps and shot concrete retaining walls make the whole site accessible. The landscape, designed by landscape architect Jim Catlin, includes a driveway with permeable pavers and decorative drainage grill that captures stormwater runoff, channeling it through a stone creek bed to an area that slows, spreads and sinks the flow. Two 1500 gallon rain catchment tanks were installed underground below a patio and provide rainwater irrigation to a “no mow” turf meadow and native plants on lower terraces.
This spring Eric and Jill will join other Bay Area gardeners featured on the 9th annual Bay-Friendly Garden Tours. The tours highlight the gardens of several people like Eric and Jill who have taken water conservation to a whole new level by installing rainwater catchment and greywater systems.
It’s hard to believe that when Laura Allen moved into her Oakland house 9 years ago the yard was covered in concrete and a small weedy lawn. Now it’s an intensively planted garden that includes a wide variety of fruit trees and edible perennials such as shiso, tree tomato, weeping mulberry, tree collard, and an almond tree. Allen is one of the founders of Greywater Action, a grassroots group that empowers people to build sustainable water culture and infrastructure. She uses her home garden to experiment with different greywater systems, which will give tour day visitors a chance to see a variety of techniques in action.
One of the first things Patricia and Dale Parker wanted to change when they purchased their home in Napa was the water gulping front lawn. They replaced the lawn with native and Mediterranean plants that thrive in the Bay Area’s drought-prone climate. The Parkers also collect rainwater in cisterns and can store about 700 gallons of water, which goes a long way in their water-wise landscape.
Alan Hackler, a Certified Greywater Installer, will be offering a “Laundry to Landscape Basics” talk in his San Jose garden on the April 29th tour. Hackler will provide an overview on home greywater systems, and will introduce greywater basics, such as installation, appropriate soaps, plants, tools, and parts needed to be successful. He will also speak about laws and local regulations regarding greywater design.
The Bay-Friendly Tours help people share their passion for gardening with the community. This spring’s tours will open gates to 69 diverse gardens located in geographic clusters in four counties. There will also be day of talks and plant sales to help turn inspiration into action. Tours are scheduled for Sunday, April 29 in Alameda and Santa Clara Counties; Sunday, May 6 in Napa; and Saturday, May 19 in Marin. Space is limited so register today!
Registration is required to receive a guidebook with directions, garden descriptions and entrance tickets for all three tour dates; cost is $10 per guidebook. The guidebook includes coupons that will inspire all types of gardeners, including up to 20% off at several local nurseries.
-2012 Bay-Friendly Tour Organizers