New landscape rebates for Santa Clara County homes

The Santa Clara Valley Water District wants home owners to continue using water wisely, and has announced a new set of landscape rebates to encourage us to capture rainwater. The rebates address three types of stormwater capture methods:

  • rain gardens, naturalistic landforms that collect and detain runoff so it can return back to the native groundwater;

  • rain barrels, which collect up to 199 gallons of rain from downspouts to be distributed into the landscape later using a garden hose; and

  • cisterns, tanks that collect at least 200 gallons of rainwater and can be used to supply an automatic landscape irrigation system.

Because the Bay Area gets almost all of our rain between November and March—but our landscapes need the most irrigation months later in the heat of August through October—Verdance normally doesn’t advise the installation of rain barrels: the huge capacity required to collect all that winter water is expensive and takes up valuable space in the garden, and 200 gallons will be used up well before June. Large cisterns can be a better option, hidden out of sight beneath driveways or hardscapes, but the infrastructure is still very expensive and the supply is short-lived. But rain gardens? For us, that’s a no-brainer: those “dry creeks” look gorgeous in every season, and allow the water to percolate deep beneath the surface (where most irrigation never reaches). In fact, we’ve rarely met a landscape that wouldn’t be improved by a rain garden. And now that you can get up to $300 back for one, it’s an even more attractive feature to consider installing in your landscape.