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Are you looking to beautify your outdoor living space but not quite sure how to execute the oasis you are dreaming of?

Despite Marin County’s current climate of drought and fire danger, many homeowners still want to keep their lawns, hydrangeas and thirsty plants. They are caught in a predicament trying to figure out how to maintain them and have them prosper with less irrigation water and in drier conditions.

Local landscape designer, Erin Werner, has some great advice on how to find a balance between being as environmentally sound as possible while still creating the aesthetic that you want.

Whether you are planning a remodel, doing plantings after a hardscape installation or just want to “refresh” your existing landscape, there are a few things to think about.

Choose Plants Wisely

There are a few factors to consider when selecting plants, you should always keep in mind a plants water consumption, the location of where you plant them, wildlife habitat in your area, fire safety, aesthetics and native vs. non-native plants for our climate and location.

Hardscape Choices

If you are in the early stages of a remodel or rebuild, choose hardscapes that are more permeable, limit runoff into storm systems and encourage groundwater replenishment. Swales and rain gardens can be incorporated into your overall design to collect and release water into the landscape.

Habitat Gardening

To more fully appreciate nature while improving the available food and water for pollinators and other creatures in our landscape. Erin loves using native plants to create a habitat. Combine those with low maintenance plants from Australia, New Zealand or South Africa which are very drought tolerant. 

I LOVE plants, being outside and all things creative. Being a landscape designer allows me to do all three as well as help people make their outside spaces as beautiful, enjoyable and usable as possible. Lately I’ve been especially passionate about water wise landscaping, adding habitat for pollinators, and helping people learn that they can grow their own food – even if it’s just a few perennial herbs that they can harvest from the garden.

– Erin Werner

Lawn Alternatives

Each option has pros and cons and different choices fit better depending on the type of project you are looking to pursue.

  1. No Lawn – grassy meadows, landscaped areas and patios can replace traditional lawns
  2. Dymondia Margaretae – a lower water, no mow  ground cover alternative
  3. Lower Water Sod Varieties – like Delta Bluegrass
  4. Artificial Lawns – low maintenance but plastic can cause a heat island
  5. Kurapia – a lower water, no mow ground cover alternative

Irrigation Sources

Where will your water be coming from?

  1. Municipal Water – has been the old stand by and we need to move away from
  2. Greywater Systems – collected from wastewater from washbasins, showers, and baths within the home
  3. Recycled Water –  brought in during times of extreme drought (MMWD gives away recycled water in the summer)
  4. Captured Rainwater – collected in tanks; we should all really be doing this and greywater!

Contact The Water Champions for water-smart greywater solutions to create green abundance and water security in your home and community!! See what options are available, especially if you are in the build/remodel process.

Erin’s Expert Tips:

“Consider Kurapia, as a highly versatile, drought tolerant groundcover to replace traditional lawns. It can be mowed into a low cushiony turf or you can let it bloom into a lush groundcover. It is not a great fit for every project as It can take time to establish and may require weeding maintenance but worth considering.”

“Have your heart set on lawns, roses and hydrangeas? If you capture, recycle and conserve water and select other drought resistant plants, go ahead and incorporate some in moderation into your overall landscape design…the key is balance”

Erin Werner is a landscape designer who works in Marin County, CA specializing in planting design and spacial layout.


Boulevard Real Estate is a Certified Green Company committed to sustainability and fire safety. We love to focus on local businesses like Erin Werner Design which work to improve community resiliency and whose mission aligns so closely with our own. Erin got interested in plants and landscape design following in her father’s career footsteps and is a rare woman out in the field on installation job sites.

Let’s Talk

You’ve got questions and we can’t wait to answer them.

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