About Our Rain Garden

In 2005, when we began designing our Sustainable Backyard, Fairfax and San Anselmo got hit with the second 100-year flood in 25 years. We believe that climate change is causing extreme weather and raising the sea level, which only means more flooding for us.

What can we do? That is what we asked Geoff Hall and Kamala Bennet of Sentient Design, who were working with us to design a backyard that represented best practices. The said “Water Reclamation” What’s that? For us it meant re-guttering our small house with about 600 square foot roof. Then channeling that water into a 1000 gallon tank. And directing the overflow of the tank into our pond and then into two vernal ponds. Our pond is lined and permanent. Our vernal ponds or swales are unlined seasonal water features. Please check the read more section below to learn more about how you can plant a vernal pond.

Since we set up this system we have found that the first rain of the season fills our tank. We actually found that in an average rainfall year we will be routing 15,000 gallons of water. We have had visits from the Town Council, County Board of Supervisors, FEMA and the Dept. of Homeland Security, MMWD, MCSTOPPP, SPAWN, Regenerative Design Institute, and numerous citizens. We received funding from Marin County Board of Supervisors to make this work possible.


Our system not only demonstrates how to help prevent flooding, it also creates unique microclimates, cleans the water before returning it to our creek systems, it helps to recharge our local ground water system, and we have 1000 gallons of water to use during the summer for topping up our pond or emergencies. In permaculture the water mantra is Slow it, Spread it, and Sink it.

Visit our backyard to learn more. Or check out this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nyzNMzk4W0

We also have a rain_garden_brochure for you to view.

Visit the SPAWN site for more info on rainwater harvesting.

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