Local School’s New Ocean Friendly Demonstration Garden Is a Living Lab

Redondo Union High School has a new water and energy-saving, ocean friendly demonstration garden on its campus, less than a half mile from the Pacific Ocean, thanks to the garden’s sponsor, West Basin Municipal Water District.

The water district coordinated with the California Water Service Company, Redondo Beach Unified School District, Redondo Union High School, and Surfrider Foundation to develop the garden as a community educational site adhering to the foundation’s ocean friendly garden principles to conserve water and reduce runoff.

The garden incorporates drought-tolerant plants, environmentally-friendly hardscapes, efficient irrigation, and conservation, permeability and retention (CPR) elements to conserve water and reduce runoff.

Dudek landscape architects John Minchin and Paul Walsh, along with Habitat Restoration Sciences (HRS) project manager Bob Mackie, combined as the garden’s design-build team.

Dudek’s landscape design incorporated native and drought-tolerant plants and shrubs, while providing a layout to accommodate site drainage requirements. HRS participated in client-sponsored public outreach meetings, which were a key part of the design review because of the garden’s high visibility and the need to meet the ocean friendly garden design requirements.

Mackie coordinated garden construction with the campus staff and students. Outdated landscaping was demolished and followed by staged grading to accommodate workshops and demonstrate the ocean friendly garden concepts. Native trees were successfully relocated on campus, and mulch was created by salvaging native plant debris from HRS’s other local fuel modification projects.

Minchin and Mackie coordinated on design changes when existing infrastructure was uncovered, including drainage and irrigation systems that had been in the ground for over 75 years. “We are able to find common ground among all interested parties on the design changes,” Mackie said.

The project included significant community and school participation. The school’s advanced placement environmental science class and special education class helped with installation by removing water-wasting turf and installing sheet mulch, drip irrigation, and drought tolerant plants.

The garden is now a popular outdoor learning lab where students are able to monitor the growth of the drought-tolerant plants, study the garden’s fauna, and measure the impact of the garden’s water-saving features.

The project was funded primarily with a California Proposition 50 grant with additional support from Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the State of California Department of Water Resources and the California Water Service Company.