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Richmond Low Water Demonstration Garden - staging

About the Garden


The Richmond Low Water Demonstration Garden is a water-efficient demonstration garden that currently contains six distinct areas, each featuring low-water and drought-tolerant plants. This garden is inspired by the principles of East Bay Municipal Utility District’s award-winning book, Plants and Landscapes for Summer-Dry Climates of the San Francisco Bay Region and is designed to foster a deeper understanding of resource-efficient gardening.

The plants in this garden have evolved to thrive in areas with low to moderate amounts of water during the warm, dry summer months. Each of the six sections illustrates a different approach to using summer dry plants in gardens and show that gardens that use water and other natural resources wisely can be beautiful and good for the environment.

The sections are:

  • California Native Garden
    This section uses almost entirely plant species that are native to California. California is fortunate to have a multitude of different geographies and climates, resulting in over 5000 native plant species, more than any other state. The plants used in this garden are from those parts of California with a summer dry climate. There are a few trees that are not natives but that were here before the current design and were not removed
  • Succulent Garden
    With their distinctive colors, form and beautiful flowers, succulents are highly prized by many gardeners. They adapt well to the driest conditions, using leaves and roots to store water. The plants in this garden receive little supplemental water during the summer.
  • Habitat Garden
    Many animals are naturally attracted to certain kinds of plants that provide them with food and shelter, and some, such as hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, and bees, are also important plant pollinators. The plants in this area are chosen for their flowers and food resources. They are from a number of areas and include many California natives.
  • Mediterranean Garden
    California is one of only five Mediterranean climates on earth, with long, warm, and dry summers followed by cool, rainy winters. Plants from these climates are popular and flourish in California gardens. The plants in this section are from the other Mediterranean climate areas, except for the large oak trees which grew here before the garden was planted.
  • Mixed California Native and Mediterranean Garden
    This garden is a mix of California Native plants and Mediterranean (non-CA Native) plants, with an emphasis on plants native to California. This garden illustrates the similarities and differences of plants from various Mediterranean areas, and how they can be effectively combined in a low water garden.
  • Mixed Mediterranean and California Native Garden
    This garden is a mix of Mediterranean (non-CA Native) plants and California Native plants with an emphasis on Mediterranean plants not native to California. The garden illustrates the similarities and differences of plants from various Mediterranean areas, and how they can be combined in a low water garden.

Richmond Dry Garden White Flowers

Finding the Garden

The garden is located next to the Richmond Public Library at the Richmond Civic Center, on Macdonald Avenue between Civic Center Plaza and 27th Street.

The garden is tended by the volunteers of the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County.  We are out working in the garden every Friday from 9:00 am until 12:00 pm.  You're welcome to stop by and chat.

History of the Garden

This garden was installed in August 2005, as a joint project of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) and the City of Richmond.

Originally named the "Water Conserving Demonstration Garden," it was maintained by the City of Richmond until January 2018, when it was adopted by the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County. Our UC Master Gardener volunteers began applying their TLC in May 2018.

Native plant area of Richmond Dry Garden taken on 8-9-2020

California Fushia at Richmond Dry Garden

Plans for the Garden

The Low Water Demonstration Garden is intended to be a hub for public education and demonstration of sustainable and water-efficient practices in the landscape. The City of Richmond and EBMUD are still much involved in this mutual mission and partnership with the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County. They are working together on behalf of the public and for the stewardship of our valuable resources and landscapes.

The garden itself features examples of plants that can be locally obtained and are proven to do well in the unique climate of Western Contra Costa County. It represents the beautiful aesthetics of plants that are adapted to our summer-dry state and to local conditions.

UC Master Gardeners plan to hold workshops, classes, and talks at the Richmond Public Library, next door to the garden. They are proud to call this garden their own and feel up to the task of achieving their mission through their own efforts, and the collaborative efforts of their partner, the City of Richmond, and with support from EBMUD.


Even though you cannot see it, this garden is irrigated with drip irrigation, except for the succulent section. Drip irrigation slowly delivers water directly to the root zone of each plant, resulting in healthy growth. Because plants in this garden are adapted to dry conditions, an automatic timer is programed to deliver only as much water as plants need. The succulent section receives water mostly from winter rains, with limited hand watering during the summer.