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  • Writer's pictureJeff Robbins

City of San Diego Creates New Sustainable Landscape Guidelines Based on Watershed Approach

Early this year the City of San Diego partnered with the San Diego County Water Authority and other organizations to develop a set of Sustainable Landscape Guidelines intended to help home owners think more sustainably when evaluating, planting, building and maintaining landscapes.  The new guidelines champion a “Watershed Approach” to landscaping where each project is viewed as a mini-watershed.  With a watershed approach, any run-of-the-mill genericanascape (yeah, we just made that a word) can be transformed into a rain-water harvesting, pollinator nurturing,  and food producing ecosystem that is perfect for you and great for the environment.  Although Revolution has embodied this watershed approach since our launch in 2008, for many home owners, contractors, and designers the idea that a landscape should be treated as a fully functioning ecosystem is a new and novel idea.

The guidelines put out by the city are pretty lengthy (60+ pages) so we wanted to give you some of the key takeaways that we got from this document.

  1. Slow, store, spread, and sink rainwater whenever possible. Rain barrels can help store water for later use while contouring your landscape to create basins or bioswales allows rain to penetrate your soil and recharge underground aquifers.  Both methods can be used in concert to prevent rainwater from reaching the storm water system where it picks up toxins from the street and carries them into our waterways and ocean.  Check out our previous blog “What is the best way to harvest rainwater from my roof” for more information about each of these approaches.

  2. Take the time to design. Whether you are a DIYer or planning to hire a landscape professional, spend the time to create a plan. Before starting your design always perform a site analysis to understand you property’s water flow patterns, sun exposure, and existing irrigation.  Proper planning helps ensure your new landscape ecosystem will thrive for many years to come.  If you plan to design and install your own landscape, consider attending one of these FREE WaterSmart Landscape Design for Homeowners Workshops or for professional help, contact us!

  3. Budget appropriately. Tackling a major landscape renovation is not unlike any other major home improvement project and expenses can add up quickly.  The guidelines from San Diego suggest that a professionally designed and installed landscape that does not include an outdoor room can cost between $12-20 per square foot while a DIY project may run closer to $5-10 per square foot.  For professionally designed projects, they recommend allocating 10-20% of the total project budget for design.  Smaller projects will tend to have higher per square foot costs.

We are so happy to see San Diego embracing the principals of sustainable landscaping and providing resources for homeowners and professionals to learn and implement these concepts.  If you are ready to start your sustainable landscaping project, contact the Revolution Landscape team today!

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