Yard, Garden, and Landscape

Protect local creeks, the Bay, and the Ocean by following these practices in your yard:

  • For patios, driveways, or other hard services, choose permeable materials that allow water to soak in rather than run off.
  • Terrace steep slopes to reduce rainwater run-off and prevent erosion.
  • Cover nearly all soil with mulch or plants.
  • Avoid the use of synthetic fertilizers.
  • Avoid the use of plants considered invasive in local wildlands.


Download a copy of

Bay-Friendly Gardening: from Your Backyard to the Bay for more in depth ideas for your yard, garden, and landscape. San Mateo County residents can also request a free book: info@flowstobay.org.

(Note: Bay-Friendly Gardening is a trademark and servicemark developed and owned by StopWaste.org of Alameda County, www.BayFriendly.org)


Complete Guide

Bay-Friendly Gardening Guide (5.13 mb)

 Chapter 1:

Gardening for a Sense of Place An overview of Bay Friendly Gardening and building healthy soil.

 Chapter 2:

Into the Garden - Look Before You Leap How to plan a garden and provides a visual example of all elements a Bay Friendly Garden might contain.

 Chapter 3:

Gardening from the Ground Up A look at what soil is and how to care for it. Plant selection and placement are also considered.

 Chapter 4:

Gardening Day To Day and Through the Seasons all about composting, worm composting, feeding the soil, mulch basics, grasscycling, water conservation, pruning, and integrated pest management.

 Chapter 5:

Gardening for the Birds and the Bees gardening for wildlife, beneficial insect plants, butterfly attracting plants, and how to deal with unwanted wildlife.

 Chapter 6:

If You Don't Own the Land Gardening as a renter, community gardening, container gardening, and hiring a landscaper.

 Chapter 7:

Resources books, web, local and statewide organizations


Bay Friendly Design Questionnaire

  1. Choose appropriate grass species for the Bay Area: Tall fescue, Bermuda grass, St. Augustinegrass, or Buffalograss
  2. Water your lawn slowly after checking the moisture of your soil. The top 2-3” of soil should be almost dry to the touch.
  3. Avoid “Weed & Feed” fertilizers; instead keep grass growing vigorously to crowd out weeds (don’t overcut), and use corn gluten meal in spring or fall to prevent broadleaf weeds.

For tips on troubleshooting lawn problems visit http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/TOOLS/TURF/

Wall Street Journal Article on Organic Lawn Care

Lawn Alternatives
"The Incredible, Edible Front Lawn" Times Article
Edible Estates proposes the replacement of the domestic front lawn with a highly productive edible landscape

How to Control Weeds
  1. Keep the soil in between your plants covered with a thick layer of mulch: compost, leaves, sawdust, straw, newspaper, cardboard or weed control fabric.
  2. Hand weed when plants are small and soil is moist.  Use a shovel, hoe, mower or rototiller to turn the soil and remove weeds.
  3. Vigorous ground covers and plants with dense foliage can shade the ground so that weed seeds have difficulty germinating.

Growing a Healthy Garden
  1. Understand the soil conditions in your yard.  Know the soil conditions, sun/shade, and water requirements of the plants you intend to grow.
  2. Planting:  Don’t pile soil around the plant any higher than the crown, and avoid planting in a depression where water can run down and cause rot.
  3. Care: Water thoroughly.  Use mulch to provide organic matter to the soil.  Use slow-release fertilizers if soil test indicates a specific deficiency.

California Native Plant Society www.cnps.org
California Invasive Plant Council www.cal-ipc.org
Yerba Buena Nusery http://www.yerbabuenanursery.com


  1. Choose the right rose for our climate –some roses are difficult to grow in the cool and foggy summers of our coast climate.  Check with your local nursery, rose societies, or Master Gardeners for suggestions. 
  2. Plant roses properly – roses need 6 hours of direct sunlight per day and good water drainage.
  3. Roses prefer slightly acidic soil pH of 6.2-6.8. Fertilize with alfalfa meal, cottonseed meal, blood meal, or bat guano to acidify the soil. 

American Rose Society www.ars.org

Soil Health Article: Build a Healthy Garden from the Ground Up