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Russian River-Friendly Landscaping Guidelines

Every landscape can have a beneficial impact on the Russian River and the surrounding environment. In 2010, the Russian River Watershed Association (RRWA) created a comprehensive toolbox of principles and practices to provide landscape professionals in the region with guidelines for protecting our environment, known as the Russian River-Friendly Landscape Guidelines (RRFLG):

  1. Landscape Locally
  2. Landscape for Less to the Landfill
  3. Nurture the Soil
  4. Conserve Water
  5. Conserve Energy
  6. Protect Water and Air Quality
  7. Create and Protect Wildlife Habitat

While these guidelines were created for landscape professionals, residents can also find insight on how to apply the guidelines through RRWA’s online resources for residential landscaping: RRWA encourages watershed residents to consult with a Bay-Friendly Qualified Professional for design and management of home landscapes using ReScape’s directory:

As part of RRWA’s Russian River-Friendly Landscaping program, RRWA hosts biennial events for professionals to provide further education on the RRFLG. The 5th Biannual Russian River-Friendly Landscaping Event “Planting Resilience: Stories, Science, and Strategies,” will take place in Santa Rosa on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. The event will cover restoring, replanting, and regrowing Russian River watershed landscapes after the October fires. The keynote speaker is Douglas Kent, author of several titles including Firescaping and Ocean Friendly Gardens. Other speakers include Chris Grabil, Steve Quarles (UC Berkeley), Kristin Maharg Suarez (Community Soil Foundation), Scott Sherman (ReScape), and Veronica Bowers (Native Song Bird Care). The event will also include a panel discussion on the landscape design templates for the fire rebuild, developed by Sonoma‑Marin Saving Water Partnership.

Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership Landscape Design Templates for Fire Rebuild

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership has developed eight scalable landscape design templates for the fire rebuild. These free, front yard designs are scalable to fit landscaped areas up to 2,500 square feet, ready‑to‑permit, and in compliance with local Water Efficient Landscape Ordinances.

The templates include conceptual plans that illustrate the interconnectedness of back and side yards with the front yard, as well as optional features such as rain water catchment, graywater systems, rain gardens, and  swales. Preparations for optional features such as stubbing out a line for greywater or grading yards for rain gardens and swales can be done for little or no additional cost during a rebuild.

For more information:


This article was co-authored by Chris Grabill, Watershed Task Force, and Christina Leung, RRWA staff. RRWA ( is an association of local public agencies in the Russian River Watershed that have come together to coordinate regional programs for clean water, habitat restoration, and watershed enhancement.