Sustainability Showcase


San Rafael | Rainwater Harvesting

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden features:

  • Permeable Surfaces.
  • Wildlife Habitat.
  • Rain Garden.

First time on the Eco-Friendly Garden Tour, this garden is a must see!

If rainwater capture is something that interests you, be sure to check out this Terra Linda garden that nicely demonstrates how to take advantage of our wet winter weather. Rather than letting excess water run off the property, water collected on the rooftop is directed into below-ground catch-basins within the landscape, which capture and hold rain water on site. Collecting water in this manner, and letting it spread-out and sink into the landscape more slowly helps mitigate flooding issues, filter-out pollutants, and recharges the groundwater supply below. Besides functionality, you’ll notice the  added benefit of visual variation that the rocks and Juncus plants provide to the garden.  The backyard of this property is not to be missed either. Besides more bioswales, it’s anchored by a large oak tree in the rear and is chock-full of colorful salvias, sages, fuscia and yarrow. Raised planter beds offer-up bushy crops of veggies and herbs, nicely supplemented by produce from nine citrus and nine fruit trees. Another interesting and important feature is the almost unnoticeable laundry-to­-landscape system that helps water a line of citrus trees running along the side of the property, and stems from the clothes washer in the garage. This garden is also proudly pesticide free.

Do not miss the abundance edible fruit and herb species on the property including;

  • Kadota Fig
  • Peach
  • Apricot
  • Santa Rosa Plum
  • Gravenstein Apple
  • Braeburn Apple
  • Mutsu Apple
  • Gala Apple
  • Jonagold Apple
  • Mid Pride Peach
  • Comice Pear
  • Persimmon
  • Washington Navel Orange
  • Mandarin
  • Kumquat
  • Eureka Lemon
  • Satsuma
  • Myer Lemon
  • Blood Orange
  • Lemon Grass
  • Sage
  • Marjoram
  • Chives
  • Big Apple Dogwood
  • Borage
  • Woodland Strawberry

Make sure to check the Marin County Cooperative Extension website for science-based solutions for Marin’s communities, farms and environment!

Dealing with Drought for Vegetables, Fruit Trees, and Berries

Irrigation water is critical to the economic performance of most of the specialty food crop plants we grow in Sonoma County. In our dry summer climate, maximum productivity can only be achieved with Rootssupplemental irrigation. Without irrigation we would not even consider growing most vegetables, fruit trees, or berries. Even the crops we can grow without irrigation like apples, plums, potatoes, Christmas trees, or tomatoes need to have some water that is provided by winter rains and stored in the soil. Sonoma County usually receives about 25 to 50 inches of rainfall in a normal year – differing amounts depending on distance from the ocean, elevation, mountain shadows and weather patterns. Only a small fraction of that, however, is stored in the soil and made available to plants in the spring when growth starts. Most of it runs off. Even less moisture is available to plants in a drought, because the ground’s reserve is depleted by sunny winter days and insufficient replenishment. Making the most of what we have requires water-wise strategies such as: saving as much soil moisture as possible, increasing the organic matter in the soil, irrigating responsibly, not wasting water, and if possible, by only growing crops during the times of year when sufficient water is available.

  • Water in the soil: One of soil’s functions is to serve as a water-holding reservoir. Each soil type – sand, loam and clay – has a different water-holding capacity. Soil moisture conservation practices that maintain as much soil moisture as possible for the food crops being grown is the first step to making the most of what is available from winter rains.
  • Save as much soil moisture as possible: The most important thing to do is to keep the weeds from stealing the water.
  • How much water do plants use? The amount of water plants use is primarily influenced by temperature, i.e., how hot it is for how long. The rate at which plants use water is known as the evapotranspiration rate (ET). ET refers to how much water is lost from evaporation at the soil surface and from transpiration which is water vapor lost from leaf surfaces.
  • Irrigating efficiently: Putting in a drip system can increase irrigation efficiency by about 20% because it reduces evaporative losses when sprinklers spray water into the air. Converting daily ET rates in inches to gallons for timing drip irrigation requires an area factor, which could be the size of the trees, or the dimensions of a vegetable or berry bed.

This information is provided by Paul Vossen, US Cooperative Extension Advisor Sonoma & Marin Counties. For more on dealing with drought for vegetables, fruit trees, and berries please visit University of California Cooperative Extension Sonoma County by click HERE.