Bay Friendly Landscaping

Bay-Friendly is a holistic approach to gardening and landscaping that works in harmony with the natural conditions of the San Francisco Bay Watershed. Bay-Friendly practices foster soil health, water conservation, and other valuable resources while reducing waste and preventing pollution.

Castro Valley Sanitary District gets Bay-Friendly
In Spring 2006, Castro Valley Sanitary District renovated the administrative offices’ landscape to be “Bay-Friendly.” The existing water-hungry, high maintenance landscape was replaced to be consistent with the 7 principles of Bay-Friendly Landscaping.

Bay-Friendly is a holistic approach to gardening and landscaping that works in harmony with the natural conditions of the San Francisco Bay Watershed. Bay-Friendly is not a particular style, but an approach. Bay-Friendly landscapers and gardeners work with nature to foster soil health, conserve water, reduce waste, and prevent pollution.

Designed and constructed by Four Dimensions Landscape Development Company, the renovated landscape employs numerous Bay-Friendly practices, reducing maintenance and water costs, while minimizing the environmental impacts of traditional landscapes.

It is our hope that the renovated landscape serves as a demonstration of Bay-Friendly Landscaping and Gardening in the community. The same principles used in the design, construction, and maintenance of our landscape may easily be transferred to your home’s garden. You are encouraged to take a self-guided tour of the landscape, located at 21040 Marshall Street in Castro Valley, where you may view, first-hand, the unique beauty of the Bay-Friendly landscape. Now it’s your turn to get Bay-Friendly!

A Green District
The Castro Valley Sanitary District administration building, completed in 1997, is considered a green building because of its use of recycled and recyclable materials.

CVSan is a certified Green Business by the Alameda County Green Business Program. The new landscape is designed to be consistent with those “green” standards and provides an environmentally responsible model landscape for the community.

Project Highlights
When designing, constructing, and maintaining the landscape, all 7 Bay-Friendly Landscaping principles were considered. Examples of each can be seen throughout the landscape.

Below, you will find some of the Bay-Friendly highlights of the Castro Valley Sanitary District landscape renovation project.

Landscape Locally
Climate and exposure are evaluated. This knowledge is critical for the selection of site-appropriate plants and materials.

64% of species are native to the San Francisco Bay Area. Using local, natural plant communities allows the landscape to work with nature, helping to replace what has so often been lost or degraded.

Soil and drainage are assessed. Understanding the soil is critical to landscaping in an environmentally friendly manner, as plants are more likely to be placed appropriately and fertilizers used only as needed.

Nurture the Soil
This garden is free of synthetic chemicals. Many synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides damage the soil, as they are toxic to vital and beneficial microbial populations. Eliminating these chemicals helps to protect the health and the community of wildlife.

Organic compost, produced with CVSan resident’s food scraps, is used to amend the soil. Adding compost brings life to the soil, as just one teaspoon can have more than one billion beneficial microbes.

Sheets of re-used, flattened cardboard boxes are laid under layers of compost, soil, and wood chip mulch to naturally suppress weed growth and improve soil conditions.

Landscape for Less to the Landfill
Plants are placed with enough room to reach maturity without heavy shearing or pruning. Selecting appropriately sized plants fosters plant health while reducing waste and maintenance.

Invasive plant species are avoided. By planting non-invasive plant species, waste is reduced and ecosystem diversity protected.

Aluminum frames and posts holding interpretive signs in the landscape are made from recycled scrap material or material that would have otherwise been disposed of.

Conserve Water
The renovated landscape eliminates the use of lawn, saving approximately 24,000 gallons of water each year.

A high-efficiency irrigation system is used. The weather-based irrigation controller measures air temperature and precipitation on-site to determine the landscape’s water needs.

Drought resistant soils are created with mulch and compost. Mulch and compost increase permeability and water-holding capacity of the soil, thereby reducing the need for irrigation.

A 2" layer of recycled wood-chip mulch was applied. Mulch conserves water, enhances the growth of plants and suppresses weed growth.

Conserve Energy
Local products and suppliers are specified. Buying locally produced and low embodied energy products often reduces the cost of an item, as well as the hidden environmental costs, such as pollution, of transporting materials.

Excavated soil is re-used on-site to create a raised planting bed. Reusing materials on-site conserves natural resources and energy from transportation.

Conventional hand tools replace gas-powered maintenance equipment. Fuel consumption and associated pollution is minimized, thereby protecting worker and community health.

Protect Water & Air Quality
Trees are planted to create shade, absorb air pollutants and minimize the effects of global warming. It is estimated that every year, each full-grown tree will produce enough oxygen for a family of four to survive for one day.

A "bioswale", or shallow depression in the ground, is created to capture stormwater to allow for infiltration into the soil. This recharges groundwater and removes pollutants from stormwater.

A Bay-Friendly Landscape Maintenance Manual is used to manage and maintain the landscape and irrigation system. Stormwater runoff is reduced, protecting the San Francisco Bay watershed.

Create & Protect Wildlife Habitat
86% of plant species are native to California. Native plants foster wildlife and flourish with less water, fertilizers, and maintenance.

Garden insects are considered valuable additions to the landscape, not pests. They are a vital link in the food chain, attracting birds and other insect eaters and are a visible sign of a healthy ecosystem.

With 42 distinct plant species, this landscape maximizes biodiversity. A diverse landscape may resist disease and pests better than those with little variety.

Lose Your Lawn and Gain a Garden
Is the drought affecting your garden plans? Sheet mulching can help. It's an easy process of layering cardboard, compost, and mulch right on top of the grass. Resources are available to help get you started:
Ready to get rid of that thirsty lawn? Host your own sheet mulch party Hosting a neighborhood party is easy and we can make it easier with:
  • Party checklist and invitation templates
  • Technical assistance before and day of
  • One hour of free design consultation from a Bay-Friendly Qualified Landscape Designer
  • Discount on sheet mulch materials
Visit to register for party support or more information and resources.
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