Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

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jplee3
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Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

Hi all,

Have any of you implemented sustainable landscaping/rain gardens/etc as part of or for all of your landscaping around the home? The idea is to leverage the local watershed and rainfall to promote growth of native plants and essentially create a "mini" ecosystem which promotes and contributes to the larger ecosystem in your region (e.g. instead of having run-off from your lot directed to the street and the ocean, capture a majority of that water and keep it on your property for your existing landscape - this A) saves you water and B) is better for the environment).

I'm located in Southern CA and there's not a ton of rain here and we're also in a drought (supposedly it's getting better). When it rains, it rarely downpours but when it does it's a mess. Anyway, our local water district is offering a turf removal program where they'll pay back $4/sq ft of turf removed but we have to replace it with sustainable landscaping (3 drought tolerant/resistant/friendly plants per every 100sq ft) and incorporate at least one feature that captures or redirects water back onto the property (rain barrel, swale, dry river bed, etc). You have the option of "DIY" but there's really not that much practical guidance (as far as some suggestions, tips, advice) other than that you need a licensed contractor to remove the turf if you want to qualify for the rebate, in addition to some of the sustainable landscaping requirements.
Otherwise, you can outsource the work to the 'partner' landscaping contractors which involves a sustainable landscape designer and all the contractors needed finish the job. The rebate obviously only applies to the areas of turf (of which we're between 600-700sq ft) but you can 'extend' this to whatever other areas of the yard you want (our total yard space is close to 3000sq ft). The ballpark cost to only do 600-700sq ft, per a calculator they have online, looks to be just under $3700 and this factors in the rebate. This includes the landscape design costs and cost to complete the project. It's pretty expensive going this route, considering it's just for 700 sq ft of turf area. And I feel like if we did this it wouldn't make sense only to do those areas but leave everything else untouched.

Right now our yard is a mess - we want to remove the turf and just renovate everything, leaving behind several fruit trees. We need to remove at least 4-5 trees that are just too large and or where the roots are too invasive and most importantly we need to resolve a long-standing drainage problem (none of the drains are performing optimally and different areas of the yard are prone to flooding)

If we were to do the full scale design and project through the contracted company, I'm estimating that it would cost anywhere from $15-18k depending on what we do and that's JUST for the landscaping (Tree removal and any auxiliary drainage would be on our own dime. I've gotten several quotes for removing 4-5 trees and it averages out to be anywhere from $500-800 per tree). I think that's because there aren't as many landscaping companies focusing on "sustainable" landscape design and projects.

Just looking for some advice/suggestions/opinion/direction with all this.

EDIT: currently our irrigation system is a mess. We had a 'landscaper' (more like a local gardener) come out to remove foliage from the side of our home and I told him we wanted to cancel irrigation. He ended up not capping off all of it so when I turned the gate valve back on it started flooding those areas :( On top of that, the irrigation system is on an old timer (that barely works and has parts deteriorating on it) and the seals on the manual control gates for each zone are starting to fail - one of the valve it looks like completely just broke as I was trying to force it on... probably years of just never having been used/tested/maintained by the prior owners. Such a mess... I think I may have to do something like this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb5ccM1iiHY

The area is just so muddy and messy right now though.
Last edited by jplee3 on Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
freckles01
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by freckles01 »

OP, check online Facebook, Reddit for groups that are focused on this subject.

Just googling provides a ton of ideas depending on your particular lot- hillside/flat, clay/porous soil, micro climate, grading away from foundation, towards trees, greywater, landscaping to support beneficial insects, native planting, creating zones, veggie gardens....

If you're in the Greater Los Angeles area- Theodore Payne Foundation, Descanso Gardens and UCLA Master Gardener Program might be of interest and may be able to direct you to find a designer. I also like Los Angeles Eco Village- they provide tours.
Last edited by freckles01 on Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
colddeadfish
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by colddeadfish »

There is a lot of information online. I suggest starting here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xeriscaping

Cheers
matti
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by matti »

We installed a rain garden in our backyard where an old concrete paver patio was. Rain would collect on the patio and drain toward the house, ultimately causing water to enter the basement every now and then. We hired a landscaper to tear up the patio and install a rain garden with native plants, etc. It looks pretty cool and helps to keep water from draining to the house. We only treated a small area, so it was only a few grand.
quietseas
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by quietseas »

There are many xeriscape landscapes now in every Southern California neighborhood. I'd drive and walk through some neighborhoods and take photos of what you want. Some will be professionally done and obviously expensive, others will be more incremental done by landscapers over time or homeowners themselves. I think you will find that the xeriscape professionals you can hire will favor large, more expensive jobs not simple, low cost ones.

After that, you'll get an idea of whether pursuing the rebate is worth it or not.

It would still be worth it if your water bill goes down. If you have a gardener service now to mow the grass you'd have to decide whether you still want them to come to take care of the xeriscape. Again, as you drive around and look at other yards, you'll see there are some xeriscapes that are better maintained than others. Xeriscape does not usually mean zero maintenance.
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jplee3
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

quietseas wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:41 pm There are many xeriscape landscapes now in every Southern California neighborhood. I'd drive and walk through some neighborhoods and take photos of what you want. Some will be professionally done and obviously expensive, others will be more incremental done by landscapers over time or homeowners themselves. I think you will find that the xeriscape professionals you can hire will favor large, more expensive jobs not simple, low cost ones.

After that, you'll get an idea of whether pursuing the rebate is worth it or not.

It would still be worth it if your water bill goes down. If you have a gardener service now to mow the grass you'd have to decide whether you still want them to come to take care of the xeriscape. Again, as you drive around and look at other yards, you'll see there are some xeriscapes that are better maintained than others. Xeriscape does not usually mean zero maintenance.

Curious... if we just let our lawn die off and, over time, replace with Xeriscaping or hardscaping features, I wonder if that would end up costing less in the long run. We have the irrigation system shut-off to begin with so we're not even watering outside of manually with water cans and or hoses. It does seems like paying to have the turf removed and then dealing with planting and setting up water capturing features according to the "rules" might end up costing as much as we'd get back on the rebate if we were to go the DIY route but that's a lot of time and effort.

Right now, I think one priority is addressing the side of the house as far as the irrigation, rain and keeping water out of this particular area. I was initially thinking about having a french drain running along this side. But now that Xeriscaping is in the picture, I don't know if a french drain in this area would make as much sense. Really all I want against the side of the house is rocks and the drain. *Maybe* some drought tolerant plants that can prevent erosion and absorb excess water.
huzen
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by huzen »

Check out the California Native Plant Society website and YouTube channel! If you're at all interested in gardening it can be fun and rewarding to do a lot of it yourself over the course of a few years

If you are going to have trees removed, consider leaving as much as possible on your site as snag, nurse logs, wood chip paths, etc
Last edited by huzen on Fri Jan 14, 2022 2:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TomatoTomahto
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by TomatoTomahto »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:51 pm
quietseas wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:41 pm There are many xeriscape landscapes now in every Southern California neighborhood. I'd drive and walk through some neighborhoods and take photos of what you want. Some will be professionally done and obviously expensive, others will be more incremental done by landscapers over time or homeowners themselves. I think you will find that the xeriscape professionals you can hire will favor large, more expensive jobs not simple, low cost ones.

After that, you'll get an idea of whether pursuing the rebate is worth it or not.

It would still be worth it if your water bill goes down. If you have a gardener service now to mow the grass you'd have to decide whether you still want them to come to take care of the xeriscape. Again, as you drive around and look at other yards, you'll see there are some xeriscapes that are better maintained than others. Xeriscape does not usually mean zero maintenance.

Curious... if we just let our lawn die off and, over time, replace with Xeriscaping or hardscaping features, I wonder if that would end up costing less in the long run. We have the irrigation system shut-off to begin with so we're not even watering outside of manually with water cans and or hoses. It does seems like paying to have the turf removed and then dealing with planting and setting up water capturing features according to the "rules" might end up costing as much as we'd get back on the rebate if we were to go the DIY route but that's a lot of time and effort.

Right now, I think one priority is addressing the side of the house as far as the irrigation, rain and keeping water out of this particular area. I was initially thinking about having a french drain running along this side. But now that Xeriscaping is in the picture, I don't know if a french drain in this area would make as much sense. Really all I want against the side of the house is rocks and the drain. *Maybe* some drought tolerant plants that can prevent erosion and absorb excess water.
Entirely different climate (near Boston), but we experimented with letting the lawn die off, and it wasn’t the way to go (ie, a meadow did not spring up magically). We have covered a portion of the lawn with plastic and killed the grass/weeds for a year. We have since planted wildflower mix and we will see how it goes. FWIW, it should be obvious, but we are not under the thumb of a HOA.
I get the FI part but not the RE part of FIRE.
colddeadfish
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by colddeadfish »

jplee3 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:51 pm
quietseas wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:41 pm There are many xeriscape landscapes now in every Southern California neighborhood. I'd drive and walk through some neighborhoods and take photos of what you want. Some will be professionally done and obviously expensive, others will be more incremental done by landscapers over time or homeowners themselves. I think you will find that the xeriscape professionals you can hire will favor large, more expensive jobs not simple, low cost ones.

After that, you'll get an idea of whether pursuing the rebate is worth it or not.

It would still be worth it if your water bill goes down. If you have a gardener service now to mow the grass you'd have to decide whether you still want them to come to take care of the xeriscape. Again, as you drive around and look at other yards, you'll see there are some xeriscapes that are better maintained than others. Xeriscape does not usually mean zero maintenance.

Curious... if we just let our lawn die off and, over time, replace with Xeriscaping or hardscaping features, I wonder if that would end up costing less in the long run. We have the irrigation system shut-off to begin with so we're not even watering outside of manually with water cans and or hoses. It does seems like paying to have the turf removed and then dealing with planting and setting up water capturing features according to the "rules" might end up costing as much as we'd get back on the rebate if we were to go the DIY route but that's a lot of time and effort.

Right now, I think one priority is addressing the side of the house as far as the irrigation, rain and keeping water out of this particular area. I was initially thinking about having a french drain running along this side. But now that Xeriscaping is in the picture, I don't know if a french drain in this area would make as much sense. Really all I want against the side of the house is rocks and the drain. *Maybe* some drought tolerant plants that can prevent erosion and absorb excess water.
In my opinion, letting the grass 'die' is not a viable solution. The dead grass will still need to be removed thus not saving you time or money.

If you do decide to add gravel do NOT add a weed barrier underneath (some might try to convince you of this). In my experience this only works for a short amount of time, can become unsightly and will either need to be replaced or removed. Just resign yourself to pulling weeds occasionally. Not having the weed barrier also allows more water to infiltrate into the soil.
dbr
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by dbr »

Not California, but our city, when rebuilding streets, which includes the "parking," has installed rain gardens into which the gutters flow during heavy rain. This is to reduce runoff into the flood water system.

Some people have planted them with very attractive botanicals and other people leave them to grow weeds. Naturally the actual lawn care in the "parking" is the responsibility of the homeowner even though we do not own the property. In some cases the runoffs surround a tree which is then somewhat protected from summer drought.

In winter these "gardens" become snow traps that an unwary person could fall into and escape only with difficulty if elderly or a small child. So far we have not found any frozen corpses come spring.
quantAndHold
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by quantAndHold »

We’re in Southern California, and did the turf removal program in 2018. It sounds like either they’ve changed the program or you’re in a different location than we are (San Diego), because some of your requirements are different. We could have removed the grass ourselves. We chose not to, and had our regular (unlicensed) gardener do it.

My retired wife did all the design, and about 90% of the work herself. At the time, whatever organization was administering the rebates offered classes that covered how to do the design and how to qualify for the maximum rebate. I’m not sure she could have done it by herself without what she learned in that class. She hired a guy from the local garden shop for a 2 hour design consult, then designed it all out herself, using graph paper and a plant list that the grass removal program provided. Then i think she had to get approval for her design before we moved forward. Our gardener removed the sod, and did the modifications to the sprinkler system. A plumber added a pressure regulator to our plumbing supply. We could have gotten a rebate for the pressure regulator if the plumber had gotten a permit for the job, but the permit cost more than the rebate paid, so we didn’t. The rest was her ordering stuff, having it delivered, and humping a shovel and wheelbarrow herself. Cost wise, by doing it herself, she managed to *almost* keep the total within the amount of the rebate.

I think the bottom line is that if you have to hire someone to do the work, the rebate will be helpful if you were planning on redoing the yard anyway. It’ll save you money. And the water savings is great. But if I wasn’t planning on doing the yard anyway, I’m not sure the rebate program would convince me to do it.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
TheMightyQuinn
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by TheMightyQuinn »

I just got my rebate approved for removing about 1500 sqft of lawn through the SoCal Water$marts program.

Is yours the same program?
jplee3 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:59 am ... you need a licensed contractor to remove the turf if you want to qualify for the rebate...
I did all the work myself no contractor involved but maybe yours is a different rebate. My "sustainable landscape approach" was a water catchment basin, which just means a part of my backyard is slightly lower than the rest to allow water to pool and sink. Nothing fancy.

My inspiration came from the great presentations given by the Chino Basin Water Conservation District Waterwise Community Center.
They post their video presentations on youtube (https://www.cbwcd.org/youtube) and you can download their presentation files on their site (https://www.cbwcd.org/Presentations).
They talk about the lawn removal rebates and how to go about it.

One note - you have 6 months from when you're approved to complete the project. This wasn't spelled out on their website when I applied. Since the best time to kill a lawn is summer, and the best time to plant is in the winter, you need to time it right. We applied too early but they granted us a 90 day extension so we were able to complete the planting in DEC.
Big Heart
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by Big Heart »

huzen wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 1:56 pm Check out the California Native Plant Society website and YouTube channel! If you're at all interested in gardening it can be fun and rewarding to do a lot of it yourself over the course of a few years

If you are going to have trees removed, consider leaving as much as possible on your site as snag, nurse logs, wood chip paths, etc
Wanted to emphasize this. I removed a Norway maple -- well, I took off all the branches and had them cut around its perimeter. I left the snag. There is a hole in there and every year, a new woodpecker family rears its young there. It's really special to get to watch that process each year.

I transformed my own yard bits and pieces with youtube and websites. Lots of fun, not expensive, and beautiful. Grass is easy to take out if you are working in 2 foot sections at a time. Start small and expand from there. You definitely should be avoiding drainage to the street though as much as possible. That is about keeping resilient systems for whatever lies ahead.
Mr. Rumples
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by Mr. Rumples »

My property was a mess. The soil was stripped of nutrients years before...it was an old plantation that grew tobacco which strips soil of everything, then it was allowed to go waste with anemic oaks; years of raking leaves left the ph at 4.5 with no calcium. Water was diverted where it was wasted and ponded and what's now a back field was a no man's land of weedy shrubs and poison ivy.

I had our local agronomist come out in addition to the extension agent. The water has been diverted into surface runnels into the new perennial and shrub beds (we get on average 40" of rain a year). I hired a company to remove the weedy shrubs and restore the field that was there and over time I am removing some of the less attractive and diseased trees. (Three oaks so far, two more next month are coming out - I leave the stumps to rot.) We have hardpan and that has been broken up by me going out using a drill and a 12" masonry bit (a regular bit would not penetrate the hardpan) - I then drop a mixture of calcium lime, organic fertilizer and humus into the holes. What was an area of standing water now drains within hours.

$15K seems like a lot now, but it's a project that should not have to be repeated. Go native and it should pay off.

Brick runnel (no mortar between bricks):
http://getyourbotanyon.blogspot.com/201 ... ening.html
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Topic Author
jplee3
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

TheMightyQuinn wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 10:22 pm I just got my rebate approved for removing about 1500 sqft of lawn through the SoCal Water$marts program.

Is yours the same program?
jplee3 wrote: Fri Jan 14, 2022 11:59 am ... you need a licensed contractor to remove the turf if you want to qualify for the rebate...
I did all the work myself no contractor involved but maybe yours is a different rebate. My "sustainable landscape approach" was a water catchment basin, which just means a part of my backyard is slightly lower than the rest to allow water to pool and sink. Nothing fancy.

My inspiration came from the great presentations given by the Chino Basin Water Conservation District Waterwise Community Center.
They post their video presentations on youtube (https://www.cbwcd.org/youtube) and you can download their presentation files on their site (https://www.cbwcd.org/Presentations).
They talk about the lawn removal rebates and how to go about it.

One note - you have 6 months from when you're approved to complete the project. This wasn't spelled out on their website when I applied. Since the best time to kill a lawn is summer, and the best time to plant is in the winter, you need to time it right. We applied too early but they granted us a 90 day extension so we were able to complete the planting in DEC.
I think it's different - I'm in South Orange County so it's through Moulton Niguel Water District... it might all be under the same 'umbrella' but perhaps how they approve and or administer the funds varies between water district?

They're pretty stringent in this case. How much per sq ft did you get back?
https://www.mnwd.com/residential-turf-removal/
TheMightyQuinn
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by TheMightyQuinn »

Hmm, sounds like a different, but almost identical, program. The one I used is from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California which I *thought* covered the major cities down here (I'm in the city of SD). MWD sells to local water districts and cities (like a wholesaler) so I'm surprised yours is different.

Just to verify, you can enter your address here (https://mwdturf2.conservationrebates.co ... timate.php) and see if you're in their service area.

If you have to involve landscapers, it will take a while and cost a lot (they're in high demand). A few of the landscapers we talked with said they don't "do" the rebate. I think they're afraid of not qualifying and the homeowner getting upset.

I got $4.25/sqft. I was surprised because when I applied it was listed as $3/sqft. The way it works is MWD will give you $2/sqft and then your local water district puts in something on top of that (typically $0.50 - $2 / sqft). You just get one check from MWD covering it all. Oh, and it looks like the rebate is considered taxable income instead of a true rebate or refund (which would not be taxed). Regardless, my return is about 7x what i put in, and since I wanted to ditch the lawn and put in a native landscape I'm pretty happy.
quantAndHold
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by quantAndHold »

TheMightyQuinn wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 6:46 pm
I got $4.25/sqft. I was surprised because when I applied it was listed as $3/sqft. The way it works is MWD will give you $2/sqft and then your local water district puts in something on top of that (typically $0.50 - $2 / sqft). You just get one check from MWD covering it all. Oh, and it looks like the rebate is considered taxable income instead of a true rebate or refund (which would not be taxed). Regardless, my return is about 7x what i put in, and since I wanted to ditch the lawn and put in a native landscape I'm pretty happy.
I know when we did it, there was an extra $1.40/sqft for anyplace you covered with mulch, which wasn’t advertised up front for some reason. They told my wife it was because they wanted people to plant things, rather than do hardscape.
Yes, I’m really that pedantic.
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baconavocado
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by baconavocado »

I read some of the posts but not all, so I will make my comment very short:

I'm really against using rocks/gravel as landscaping material. They're impossible to remove later, get mixed into the soil and scattered all over the yard, and areas landscaped with them eventually require herbicides for maintenance. As an alternative, I would suggest 1) a thick layer of wood chips, or 2) pavers/large cobbles (since they can be removed more easily if necessary).
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jplee3
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

baconavocado wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 8:58 pm I read some of the posts but not all, so I will make my comment very short:

I'm really against using rocks/gravel as landscaping material. They're impossible to remove later, get mixed into the soil and scattered all over the yard, and areas landscaped with them eventually require herbicides for maintenance. As an alternative, I would suggest 1) a thick layer of wood chips, or 2) pavers/large cobbles (since they can be removed more easily if necessary).


I heard wood chips at least up against the house is an open invite for termites. Perhaps the wood chips would make more sense further away from the house. My wife isn't a big fan of the look though. I am considering just filling the dirt area up against the home with cement (or possibly pavers) though.
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jplee3
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

TheMightyQuinn wrote: Sat Jan 15, 2022 6:46 pm Hmm, sounds like a different, but almost identical, program. The one I used is from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California which I *thought* covered the major cities down here (I'm in the city of SD). MWD sells to local water districts and cities (like a wholesaler) so I'm surprised yours is different.

Just to verify, you can enter your address here (https://mwdturf2.conservationrebates.co ... timate.php) and see if you're in their service area.

If you have to involve landscapers, it will take a while and cost a lot (they're in high demand). A few of the landscapers we talked with said they don't "do" the rebate. I think they're afraid of not qualifying and the homeowner getting upset.

I got $4.25/sqft. I was surprised because when I applied it was listed as $3/sqft. The way it works is MWD will give you $2/sqft and then your local water district puts in something on top of that (typically $0.50 - $2 / sqft). You just get one check from MWD covering it all. Oh, and it looks like the rebate is considered taxable income instead of a true rebate or refund (which would not be taxed). Regardless, my return is about 7x what i put in, and since I wanted to ditch the lawn and put in a native landscape I'm pretty happy.

I tried checking and I'm not in that service area but $4.25 is really good! But yea, I think the way it works is that you have the licensed contractor come into remove the turf, then you can plant your own plants and do the single sustainable option (swale, rainbarrel or whatever) and then have someone come out to do a post-inspection approval. After all that you get your rebate. In this case I'd expect somewhere around $2500-2800 back. Removal of the turf per two contractors I had out this AM to quote me on tree removal (I just asked them about turf as well) could range from as low as $400 to $1200 depending on dumping fees. So we'll just assume $1000 on the high end. This leaves about $1500-1800 for the actual landscaping. Not sure how much, in general, the cost per plant is but we do need to take care of irrigation and drainage as well. This is going to be a pretty large project overall. I think we need to address our drainage and irrigation issues potentially before we start worrying about plants though.
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baconavocado
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by baconavocado »

jplee3 wrote: Sun Jan 16, 2022 12:54 pm
I heard wood chips at least up against the house is an open invite for termites. Perhaps the wood chips would make more sense further away from the house. My wife isn't a big fan of the look though. I am considering just filling the dirt area up against the home with cement (or possibly pavers) though.
I've never heard of wood chips attracting termites, but you don't want them piling up against the house or even against the stems of plants since they retain moisture and thus attract rot. I keep them raked a few inches away or use a wood border to keep them contained. They improve the soil as they decompose.

Re: the appearance, I think they look like like a forest floor, so they aren't unattractive to me, and certainly more so than bare soil, or worse, rocky soil.
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jplee3
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

One big problem area is this:

Image

Image

I drew out a very rough sketchup of our yard (at least the side and front) where I was originally just considering the hardscaping (arrows indicate downspouts):
Image

I'm trying to figure out what to do with this side area along the home. It's a tough problem to solve - some have suggested filling it with concrete but we have irrigation lines running through there that go to the backyard. I don't want to cover it all up then end up having to deal with a leak in this part of the line later. So the choices would be pavers or landscaping rock. As far as drainage, the current system in place isn't very good so we have to figure something else out (perhaps a small pipeless french drain/swale running parallel to the walkway) - in the diagram, I kind of included what a french drain system might look like... not sure if it would be an adequate solution though.
huzen
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by huzen »

So, that strip along the house gets muddy? It shouldn't. It should be kept dry by the overhang of your roof plus the downspouts directing rainwater from the roof away from your foundation.

Around my house that 2 foot strip around the house is dirt. I love wood chips but wouldn't put them right up against the building. I also definitely wouldn't pour concrete there. I would divert the roof water away from the building by extending the downspout to run under the walkway to where it opens up into yard. Then I would leave the dirt, add a few decorative rocks and a few small native groundcover sized plants.
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jplee3
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

huzen wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 12:16 pm So, that strip along the house gets muddy? It shouldn't. It should be kept dry by the overhang of your roof plus the downspouts directing rainwater from the roof away from your foundation.

Around my house that 2 foot strip around the house is dirt. I love wood chips but wouldn't put them right up against the building. I also definitely wouldn't pour concrete there. I would divert the roof water away from the building by extending the downspout to run under the walkway to where it opens up into yard. Then I would leave the dirt, add a few decorative rocks and a few small native groundcover sized plants.

The issue is that we have spanish clay tile roofing and there's no overhang on this side of the home

Image (stock pic - all these plants are long gone except the roses on the left haha)

This area is very prone to staying wet also because it's shaded for a good part of the day (the neighbor's home, also 2-story and zero lot line, blocks sunlight creating a shaded alleyway here)

We have issues with moisture/wet wall conditions inside and especially around the windows. It doesn't help that we have permeable stucco siding. The windows are retrofit so my guess is that the original flashing is insufficient and or failing (home was built in 1980) and water intrudes around the frame and ends up in the bottom sill area and under. This side of the house is directly exposed to the elements - if there's a heavy rain the window areas get soaked :( The previous owner had covered the weep screed with dirt as well, so we had to have that entire section of weep screed rebuilt and the footing/slab under it waterproofed. We still want to keep water out of this area though.
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Beensabu
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by Beensabu »

One thing I would do is look for water absorbent plants that you can put in "too wet" spots. For instance, the area in your pic looks perfect for ferns and/or calla lilies. If you have a big soggy spot in the back, there are some trees and bushes that like that. And of course moving dirt around to direct the flow where you want it to go.
"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next." ~Ursula LeGuin
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

Beensabu wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:27 pm One thing I would do is look for water absorbent plants that you can put in "too wet" spots. For instance, the area in your pic looks perfect for ferns and/or calla lilies. If you have a big soggy spot in the back, there are some trees and bushes that like that. And of course moving dirt around to direct the flow where you want it to go.
Thanks - that makes sense. I was more so curious about what kinds of plants would do well in those spots if we do decide to plant. We will probably want to keep it pretty sparse if we were to plant. I'm still mulling over what to do about the drainage there and also the irrigation. The irrigation line that runs to the back has 'branches' in this area so it's kind of just all over the place. I'm considering just cutting all of that out and re-doing it with a more simplistic setup. I'm leaning towards keeping the lines there but partially abandoning it. I'd want to get rid of the old irrigation timer/valves/manifold but leave all the existing lines as-is with the exception of this area where I would reduce the amount of 'branches' - the big issue is that it's really hard to work and excavate (and I'm thinking grading will be difficult as well) when there are so many pipes in such a small area.
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by Beensabu »

jplee3 wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 4:39 pm
Beensabu wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:27 pm One thing I would do is look for water absorbent plants that you can put in "too wet" spots. For instance, the area in your pic looks perfect for ferns and/or calla lilies. If you have a big soggy spot in the back, there are some trees and bushes that like that. And of course moving dirt around to direct the flow where you want it to go.
Thanks - that makes sense. I was more so curious about what kinds of plants would do well in those spots if we do decide to plant. We will probably want to keep it pretty sparse if we were to plant. I'm still mulling over what to do about the drainage there and also the irrigation. The irrigation line that runs to the back has 'branches' in this area so it's kind of just all over the place. I'm considering just cutting all of that out and re-doing it with a more simplistic setup. I'm leaning towards keeping the lines there but partially abandoning it. I'd want to get rid of the old irrigation timer/valves/manifold but leave all the existing lines as-is with the exception of this area where I would reduce the amount of 'branches' - the big issue is that it's really hard to work and excavate (and I'm thinking grading will be difficult as well) when there are so many pipes in such a small area.
Can I ask you? How did those pipes do in the last big rain? Did they work? It kind of seems like they might not have worked so well, but I can't get a feel for angles from the pic. We had a flood control project we just finished for an area by the home that would always pond up really bad and it was all about directing a mass of water towards a narrow (but not too narrow) channel and routing that to where it could go be free and soggify other stuff. Which is all to say that pipes won't help you unless you have gravity on your side first. And the longer they are, the harder they'll be to unclog. Think "channels" and shaping the land to work with you. I dunno about irrigation. We have one spigot with a splitter, so we use hoses, carry buckets, and say hello to the plants.
"The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next." ~Ursula LeGuin
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jplee3
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

Beensabu wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 7:36 pm
jplee3 wrote: Thu Jan 20, 2022 4:39 pm
Beensabu wrote: Tue Jan 18, 2022 8:27 pm One thing I would do is look for water absorbent plants that you can put in "too wet" spots. For instance, the area in your pic looks perfect for ferns and/or calla lilies. If you have a big soggy spot in the back, there are some trees and bushes that like that. And of course moving dirt around to direct the flow where you want it to go.
Thanks - that makes sense. I was more so curious about what kinds of plants would do well in those spots if we do decide to plant. We will probably want to keep it pretty sparse if we were to plant. I'm still mulling over what to do about the drainage there and also the irrigation. The irrigation line that runs to the back has 'branches' in this area so it's kind of just all over the place. I'm considering just cutting all of that out and re-doing it with a more simplistic setup. I'm leaning towards keeping the lines there but partially abandoning it. I'd want to get rid of the old irrigation timer/valves/manifold but leave all the existing lines as-is with the exception of this area where I would reduce the amount of 'branches' - the big issue is that it's really hard to work and excavate (and I'm thinking grading will be difficult as well) when there are so many pipes in such a small area.
Can I ask you? How did those pipes do in the last big rain? Did they work? It kind of seems like they might not have worked so well, but I can't get a feel for angles from the pic. We had a flood control project we just finished for an area by the home that would always pond up really bad and it was all about directing a mass of water towards a narrow (but not too narrow) channel and routing that to where it could go be free and soggify other stuff. Which is all to say that pipes won't help you unless you have gravity on your side first. And the longer they are, the harder they'll be to unclog. Think "channels" and shaping the land to work with you. I dunno about irrigation. We have one spigot with a splitter, so we use hoses, carry buckets, and say hello to the plants.

The downspouts leak and drip - they're not very good. I think they were replaced in a piecemeal way that just wasn't done well. The gutters seem OK but were clogged up and dirty during the last rain so they overflowed in parts. There's on part of the gutter in the front that *looks* like it's starting to rust on the bottom. No leaks from the gutters otherwise - most of the leaking is when the water is coming down the downspouts.

I think this walkway is a pain point in terms of both how they graded it and the level they poured it at - it's just too high :( The *best* way to resolve this would probably be to rip all the cement up around the house and have it repoured or new hardscape done but that would be BIG $$$$
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Re: Opinions on sustainable landscaping/rain gardens vs drainage to the street

Post by jplee3 »

Just had a professional landscape company come out to assess. The planner was suggesting replacing the entire drainage system with a virtually new system including a new 3" PVC pipe along the sides and a channel/grate drain along the back where the [current] lawn meets the concrete. He said to focus on addressing the drainage/irrigation first before we deal with the landscaping. He was also suggesting ripping out the parts of the irrigation system along the side of the home as well as adding new lines to go from 4 zones to 6. He would leverage the existing catch basin and setup, and more or less do the same thing that's there now as far as the PVC is concerned but perhaps adding 90-degree elbows to ensure water is going into the catch basin. I'm still unclear how the grading and leveling would look around the actual catch basin area though. It sounds like this is going to be very expensive to hire out :(
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