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MMWD Blog: Think Blue Marin

Welcome to our blog! Written by staff at MMWD, “Think Blue Marin” explores all things water in south and central Marin—water supplies, conservation, new projects, watershed management, and more.

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Apr 03

Landscape Adjustments

Posted on April 3, 2015 at 11:55 AM by Ann Vallee

by Charlene Burgi

Climate change: We read about it and hear about it on the news. We wonder what it means for future weather patterns and if recent unusual weather will become the norm. We pay attention to reports from the weather channels and watch patterns keeping low pressure north and east, preventing precipitation from moving in our direction.

The question is how long will the weather conditions remain as we experience this low precipitation pattern? As a gardener living with four years of drought, I am forced to look around to see what can be done to minimize water usage while still enjoying a colorful and bountiful garden.

It didn't take long to spot the decorative pond/waterfall in the front yard—a sure place to save water! The rate of evaporation from pools and ponds is high—so high that surface water area is classified as a high-use hydrozone, the same as bluegrass lawn.

 Disassembling the pond
 Disassembling the pond
As I considered eliminating the pond, I wondered what the birds would do if there were no water source for them to drink or bathe in? Pondering this outcome, Jack and I decided to redesign the pond into a disappearing waterfall. Our plan is to scour the landscape for a fall rock (a rock on the receiving end where the water falls) with a depression deep enough for bird bathing and where birds, butterflies, and bees can still stop to wet their whistles. The circulating water will be put on a timer to recharge the system in order to replenish the evaporating water for visiting critters. The size of the actual falls will be reduced, and the reservoir of water will be stored underground to slow the rate of evaporation. The balance of the existing pond will be transformed into a dry creek bed accented with low-water-using bulbs and perennials to attract bees and butterflies. The very idea has me thumbing through books, catalogs, and websites. Can I find a low-water groundcover in blue to thread along the base of the dry creek bed? Or better yet, maybe we'll use blue tumbled glass as an accent. The wheels churn in my head. This adjustment stirs the creative juices!

How about you? Can you envision making a slight change to your garden in order to use less water? If you have a pool or spa, is it covered? Believe me, there is nothing more tempting than looking out at a sparkling pool of water, but there is also a price that comes with the view. A pool cover will help you save water and energy—and you may even qualify for a rebate from MMWD.

Are you up to making some creative changes? Share your thoughts and ideas. We would love to see them!


Ann Vallee
April 3, 2015 at 12:40 PM
Lots of CA natives have blue flowers: ceanothus, Douglas Iris, Coyote Mint, Baby Blue Eyes, Lupine, Blue Eyed Grass, Globe Gilia, etc
Charlene Burgi
April 3, 2015 at 3:36 PM
Dawn, thanks for this impressive list of blue flowering natives! In order to give the illusion of water, using multiple blues in the "stream bed" will only enhance the effect and prolong the bloom times! I can't wait to give it a try!
Andrea Williams
April 7, 2015 at 10:01 PM
My house had a defunct pond when I moved in, half-full of dirt and weeds. I filled it a bit more with sand, covered it with weed cloth, and put a layer of covered glass over the top. Then I planted in my "water lilies": rosetted succulents such as dudleya and graptopetalum. The dudleyas have done best. Here's a photo of when I first "finished"
Charlene Burgi
April 8, 2015 at 3:36 PM
Andrea, so good to hear from you! Your landscape conversion is exactly what I am hoping people consider that have ponds. Thanks for sharing the outcome with us and for providing us with a list of low water use succulents! Always, Charlene

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