Bay-Friendly Basics

Nine Simple Steps to Sustainability - 

These nine fundamental practices should be part of every landscape construction or renovation project:

  1. Apply a 3-inch layer of mulch to all soil
  2. Amend the soil with 1 inch of compost, or bring soil organic matter content to 3.5%
  3. Divert 50% of landscape construction and demolition debris from the waste stream
  4. Choose and locate plants to grow to their natural size
  5. Don't plant invasive species
  6. Grow climate-adapted plants that require little or no summer water for 75% of all non-turf plants
  7. Keep the turf area to no more than 25% of total irrigated area
  8. Use weather-based irrigation controllers that include a moisture or rain sensor shutoff
  9. Don't use sprinkler and spray heads for areas less than 8-feet wide
Sustainable Landscape Management

Seven Principles of Sustainability - ​

Landscape Locally

The landscape locally principle is about knowing the site and complementing the design to create a beautiful, thriving, well-adapted landscape that coordinates with its local ecosystem.

This means surveying for and taking into consideration things like soil drainage, fire danger, microclimates and native habitats. This will be explained later during the initial design process.

Local plant communities provide a blueprint for how to successfully create a landscape that is both spectacular and successful. These plants have adapted to grow strong and healthy in our native ecosystem.


Read more about Landscape Locally (PDF).

Sustainable Landscape Management


L​ess to the Landfill​​ 

​Reducing waste can be accomplished by choosing the right plants. 

Plants that fit their location without the need to be trimmed and shaped reduce both plant debris and maintenance.

Plant debris that is created can be kept on-site and used as mulch, composted or set out in green waste containers. Grasscycling involves leaving grass clippings on the lawn to decompose and return nutrients to the ecosystem.

Using salvaged or recycled items prevents them from going to the landfill. Additionally, landscaping with materials that have recycled content is sustainable.

​Reduce and recycle waste whenever possible

  • Select appropriate plants
  • Choose plants to match the microclimate and soil conditions
  • Choose plants that can grow to their natural size in the space allotted to them
  • Replace sheared hedges with plants that can grow to their natural shape and size
  • Do not plant invasive species
  • Grasscycle
  • Produce mulch from plant debris
  • Compost plant debris
  • Prune selectively and properly
  • Water and fertilize judiciously
  • Use goats for controlling weeds and creating firebreaks
  • Use salvaged items and recycled content materials
  • Reduce and recycle waste
  • Separate plant debris for clean green discounts

Read more about Less to the Landfill​ (PDF). ​​​​

Sustainable Landscape Management


Nurture the Soil​​

Having healthy, living soil is important because of all the things it does. It stores water and nutrients, regulates water flow, neutralizes pollutants, sequesters carbon, helps plants resist pests and so much more.

It is only able to do all these things when it has the bacteria, protozoa, nematodes, worms and other beneficial organisms that are an important part of a healthy, interactive soil food web.

In order to maintain this delicate interaction between billions of organisms, the structure, water, minerals and organic matter of the soil must be suitable.

Care for soil, it is alive and the foundation of life in any landscape.

  • Remove and store topsoil before grading
  • Protect soil from compaction
  • Defend against erosion
  • Amend the soil with compost before planting
  • Grasscycle
  • Mulch regularly
  • Aerate compacted soils
  • Feed soils naturally
  • Avoid synthetic, quick release fertilizers
  • Minimize the use of chemical pesticides​

Read more about Nurture the Soil (PDF).​​

Sustainable Landscape Management


Conserve Water​​

With the year-to-year threat of drought, water conservation has moved from a good idea to a mandated ordinance. 

Fortunately, high-efficiency irrigation techniques have been developed and many beautiful native plants have already adapted to our hot, dry summers.

There are even certified experts trained to audit and design irrigation systems to maximize efficiency.

Healthy soils, proper plants and well-designed irrigation systems are the backbone of landscape water conservation.

  • Create drought resistant soils with compost and mulch
  • Grow drought tolerant California native or Mediterranean plants
  • Minimize the lawn
  • Implement hydrozoning — group plants by water needs
  • Design for on-site rainwater collection, recycled water or graywater use
  • Design and install high efficiency irrigation systems
  • Install a dedicated meter to monitor landscape water use
  • Manage irrigation according to need
  • Maintain the irrigation system so every drop counts
  • Request an irrigation audit​

Read more about Conserve Water (PDF).

Sustainable Landscape Management


Conserve Energy​​

Through wise design and maintenance techniques, the goals of saving money and saving the environment can be accomplished.

Properly placed trees are fantastic at saving energy costs as they provide the shade needed to keep houses cooler and air conditioners running efficiently. 

Energy conservation should be taken into account when choosing outdoor lighting and running maintenance equipment.

Even little things such as how much energy was put into producing a product can all add up to determine if a landscape and home are conserving energy. 

  • Shade buildings to moderate temperatures
  • Reduce the heat island effect
  • Shade air conditioners
  • Design lighting carefully
  • Choose and maintain equipment for fuel conservation
  • Incorporate low embodied energy materials

Read more about Conserve Energy​ (PDF).​​​​​

Sustainable Landscape Management


Protect Water and Air Quality​​

Water and air quality depend on systems designed to eliminate pollution from entering the environment. Adherence to this principle will assure that a landscape is not only eliminating new pollution, but can also remove existing toxins.

Landscapes designed for rainwater retention prevent pollution run-off, erosion damage and give healthy soils a chance to break down and filter pollutants.

Designing for reduced fossil fuel consumption contributes to cleaner air. Planted trees not only absorb air pollutants, but they also remove CO2 from our atmosphere.

  • Use Integrated Pest Management
  • Prevent pest problems
  • Train your staff to identify and monitor pest and beneficial populations
  • Educate your clients
  • Control pest problems with physical and mechanical methods
  • Control pest problems with biological controls
  • Control pest problems with the least toxic pesticide as a last resort
  • Eliminate high input decorative lawns
  • Minimize site disturbance
  • Choose and maintain your materials, equipment and vehicles carefully
  • Keep soil and organic matter where it belongs
  • Minimize impervious surfaces
  • Plant and protect trees
  • Maintain and manage the irrigation system carefully
  • Design a system to capture and treat water

Read more about Protect Water & Air Quality​ (PDF).

Sustainable Landscape Management


Create Wildlife Habitat​​

Biodiversity is one of the cornerstones of the Bay Area’s environmental stability. Too often, developed areas landscape with a monoculture of non-native plants, removing precious habitat.

The ecosystem works in a delicate balance and the loss of habitat can remove food, water and shelter for integral parts of that balance.

A landscape that is diverse in plant species and provides habitat for wildlife will be healthier and more resistant to disease and pests.

  • Diversify
  • Choose California natives first
  • Provide water and shelter
  • Use organic pest management
  • Conserve or restore natural areas and wildlife corridors​

Read more about Create Wildlife Habitat (PDF)​.


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Sustainable Landscape Management


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