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Take a Tour of a Suburban Permaculture Project

Welcome to Russell’s edible and native permaculture oasis, one of our favorite client sites based in Costa Mesa that we began working on back in fall of 2021.

As you enter through the front yard, you will find a fruit tree food forest with a native plant understory and hedgerow. A bioswale, or water retention basin dug into the earth to help harvest rainwater and distribute it to all the plants, catches about 13,300 gallons of rain on average per year. A grove of fruit trees is irrigated by laundry greywater and includes Meyer lemon, Pakistan mulberry, Macadamia nut, Loquat, Hass avocado, Pineapple guava, Lemon guava and White sapote. The native plant understory provides medicine, a habitat for native wildlife, and attracts pollinators. The hedgerow of native shrubs creates the perfect privacy screen. To top it all off, a cob bench built with natural materials creates a spot to relax and enjoy the yard while providing privacy from the intersection behind it.

To the right of the house, you can find a parkway transformed from lawn to a mini native riparian ecosystem that look beautiful year around but especially during the rainy season. During heavy rainfall, the parkway develops a mini creek with built-in rocks to direct flow and help drain excess water. Some of the plants in this portion of the site include Yerba Mania, Yarrow, and native bunchgrasses. In the dry season, this parkway soaks up contaminants from overwatered lawns and prevents this pollution from entering the Newport Bay watershed.

As you move to the backyard, you’ll find a patio surrounded by more fruit trees, perennial vegetables and herbs, and native plants fully irrigated by a rainwater tank nestled in the corner that catches about 9,400 inches of rain in an average year. There are more fruit trees, artichokes, herbaceous perennials, native plants like Coastal Sunflower, and some in-ground space to plant annual fruits and veggies. The back area of the yard is lined with native plants and a bioswale to slow, sink, and spread rainwater. You’ll also find a compost bin back here to dispose of household food scraps and break them down into rich, nutrient-dense soil.

Thank you for taking a tour of this permaculture food forest and living suburban ecosystem in Southern California! Reach out if you have any questions or are interested in learning more about how you can transform your own home’s outdoor spaces. Check out the 1 year follow up video!

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