backyard wetland

Water is one of the most basic elements of any ecological system. A wetland garden provides food, cover, and water for wildlife and restores habitat disturbed by urban and commercial development.

Pseudacris regilla

Pacific Tree Frog, Pseudacris regilla
on a King Humbert Canna leaf

Guide to Building a Wetland from USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service

For more information, visit the California Native Plant Society


why native plants?
CA Native Wetland Plants

The benefit of growing plants within the region they evolved is they are more likely to thrive under the local conditions while being less likely to invade new habitats. Native plants are well adapted to local environmental conditions, maintain or improve soil fertility, reduce erosion, and often require less fertilizer and pesticides than many alien plants. These characteristics save time and money and reduce the amount of harmful run-off threatening the aquatic resources of our streams, rivers, and estuaries.

Native plants provide familiar sources of food and shelter for wildlife. As natural habitats are replaced by urban and suburban development, the use of native plants in landscaping can provide essential shelter for displaced wildlife. They can fill many land management needs currently occupied by nonnative species, and often with lower costs and maintenance requirements. Once established in an appropriate area, most native plant species are hardy and do not require watering, fertilizers, or pesticides.

[adapted from VA Dept of Conservation & recreation]

For more information, visit the California Native Plant Society

stormwater gardens & bioswales
What is a Rain Garden?

A rain garden is a landscaped area that collects, absorbs, and filters stormwater runoff from roof tops, driveways, patios, and other hard surfaces that don’t allow water to soak in. Rain gardens are sized to accommodate temporary ponding after it rains and are not meant to be permanent ponds. Simply put, rain gardens are shallow depressions that:

  • Can be shaped and sized to fit your yard.
  • Are constructed with soil mixes that allow water to soak in rapidly, treat runoff, and support plant growth.
  • Can be landscaped with a variety of plants to fit the surroundings.

excerpt from Rain Garden Handbook WA Dept. of Ecology, WSU extention

Also see
How to Build your own Backyard Rain Garden NC State University, AT&T State University Cooperative Extention
Rain Garden Design Templates Low Impact Development Center from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation


What is a Bioswale?

Bioswales absorb and transport large runoff events that provide an alternative to stormwater sewers. They improve water quality by infiltrating the first flush of storm water runoff and filtering the large storm flows they convey.

What is Green Infrastructure? Greenwater infrastructure from Rainwater Harvesting to Bioswales to Building Green US EPA

habitat gardening
Wetland Habitat Plants
  • Provide Food for Wildlife
  • Everyone needs to eat! Planting native forbs, shrubs and trees is the easiest way to provide the foliage, nectar, pollen, berries, seeds and nuts that many species of wildlife require to survive and thrive.

  • Supply Water for Wildlife
  • Wildlife need clean water sources for many purposes, including drinking, bathing and reproduction. Water sources may include natural features such as ponds, lakes, rivers, springs, oceans and wetlands; or human-made features such as bird baths, puddling areas for butterflies, installed ponds or rain gardens.

  • Create Cover for Wildlife
  • Wildlife require places to hide in order to feel safe from people, predators and inclement weather. Use things like native vegetation, shrubs, thickets and brush piles or even dead trees.

  • Give Wildlife a Place to Raise their Young
  • Wildlife need a sheltered place to raise their offspring.

    [adapted from National Wildlife Federation 'Garden for Wildlife']

Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat with the National Wildlife Federation