Slow the Flow Video

September 12, 2010 § 7 Comments

“None of it’s [river-friendly landscaping] going to happen just because the city council made a decision that you’re going to do this. It’s going to be really something that people are going to learn to accept because they see that it works.”
-Dave Tamayo, Sacramento County Stormwater Program in Slow the Flow

Slow the Flow: Make Your Landscape Act More Like a Sponge is a very informative well-produced 26-minute video about practices and projects that communities can do to steward our watersheds. Stop reading and hit play!

It’s all about the sort of green multi-benefit watershed landscape practices that L.A. Creek Freak loves to cover: low impact development, rain gardens, swales, native landscaping, permeable paving, cisterns, and more. The video showcases quite a few excellent projects that are easily applicable to Southern California homes, schools, parking lots, etc. The approaches highlighted are very low-tech, green, gravity-fed, habitat-enhancing… and wonderful. And, they give you good reasons to kick back and not rake the leaves or water the lawn.

Thanks to the folks at the State Water Resources Control Board who produced the video, which is available on DVD from their website

SPOILER ALERT: While the projects, problems, and visuals shown are great, the video very briefly gets just a bit jargony. “Receiving water bodies” and “beneficial uses” are terms that insider Creek Freakologists are very familiar with but not always that accessible to the public… the 99% of the vid that’s jargon-free are the best parts! Also, with various great projects (Bimini Slough, Elmer Avenue, and more) implemented in Southern California, it’s too bad that the only place where L.A. is featured in the video is in describing the problems of concrete channels. It’s definitely valid to critique L.A.’s development and concrete channels, but the viewer, unless s/he reads creek freak assiduously, may be left with the mistaken impression that So Cal only has the problems and not the solutions. Our local scientists, planners and NGO community have been behind the ball on this issue for quite a while!

Videos like this can help push the solutions into the mainstream. We also noticed SoCal Surfrider Paul Herzog in the video credits, and offer our props for his Ocean Friendly Gardens collaborations locally with the Waterboards, G3 and others to do just this – bring the how-to to the public. If you’ve not taken the leap yet, you can get more ideas at their workshops, at watershed and native plant garden tours, or simply touring the sites we mentioned above, to move towards your own flow slowin’ landscape.

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§ 7 Responses to Slow the Flow Video

  • Jessica Hall says:

    And scroll forward to minute 15:50 for an incidental illustration why the plastic bag ban that recently failed is needed.

  • skr says:

    Mulch is probably the most misunderstood aspect of a residential landscape. Most people just put enough, if any at all, to cover the surface and make it pretty. The mulch is what is going to improve the tilth of the soil. This is especially true if you have builders soil. It also does a great job of slowing the flow. I see planting areas that have way too much soil in them all the time. For instance, at approximately minute 20 you see PA’s where the soil is about 1 inch from the top of the concrete. It would be better if it were about 3 inches from the top and then with a lot more mulch than the simple topping that they place. Add some fungal spores to get that builders soil living a little more and you are well on your way to having a thriving mycelial mat that will be able to hold even more water. I was a little surprised that mycelium was never mentioned, especially considering the work Paul Stamets has done with regards to water runoff on logging roads using mulch basins inoculated with oyster mushrooms.

  • Robin Gilbert says:

    Six years ago I realized that all of our suburban houses are designed to drain into the gutter to then go down the street, to, well, you know. I terraced my property using my shovel and the concrete “stones” that fit together to make a dry wall. Then, I made French drains where needed, basins around trees, and drip watering systems. I’m working on rain barrels now.

    • Joe Linton says:

      cool! share pics? link?

    • skr says:

      Good work on the landscaping.

      There are reasons why homes are graded to move water away from the structure as quickly as possible. You don’t wan’t moisture in the crawlspace because of mold, rot, and subterranean termites (they need moisture from the ground every day or they die). Moving water under a foundation can cause subsidance. A moist crawlspace will lure tree roots under the foundation.

      That said, it does seem a little crazy to send all that water into the street when we live in such an arid climate. Simply grading the land to drain the water away is just the cheapest way to accomplish maintaining a dry foundation. French drains offer a lot of protection, but they are a lot of work to install.

  • photosf says:

    Here is the new link to Slow the Flow as the one listed above no longer works:

    The State Water Board will also send you a free DVD of the film! Email your request to: or by calling 866-563-3107.

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