Cut your curb to save rainwater?

Min3 South S.F. Bay CAJune 29, 2013

Very interesting idea from Resilient Communities about cutting parts of your curb down and growing pockets of trees and shrubs on your property next to the street with the rainwater that then DOESN'T rush away down the storm drains along with polluted water FROM the street.
It is working in Arizona! There is a short video by John Robb. Find it with Google or see

Min (I don't have a curb.)

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Very interesting, but I almost closed the tab because it was a video (I prefer reading):

Here's the main website: Rainwater Harvesting for Drylands and Beyond


    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 9:48AM
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Can your curb possible be tall enough to save rainwater for those 5 months when we get no rain and must water our garden? In the winter when we get too much rain, how would all that standing water do for the plants? Al

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 9:59AM
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gyr_falcon(Sunset 23 USDA 9)

Interesting idea. I see advantages and problems. Just quick thoughts: I would think approval from the city would be needed to cut curbs. Plus, the landscape should be appropriate to dry-season adaption. Consider too, that those contaminates from the road will now be filtered onto your soil. But with the correct setup and landscape, it would provide additional irrigation.

With widespread use in a city, what happens in very wet time and the curb cuts increase flooding on the other side of the curb. Then, when the water overflow runs back, there is even more contamination, debris, soil etc. flowing down the street and into the gutters than would have happened otherwise. Where water flows in, it can also (well, usually) flow out.

It won't work with all properties. With my yard, the street would need to flood about 3-4' deep to water the plants, and in that case, the additional water would not be welcome. It might be better to harvest runoff before it reached the street in many cases.

Still, an interesting idea. And I may find myself adapting it for use it in other ways, such as retaining wall and drain runoff. Thank you for sharing it, Min3.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 3:34PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

Thanks for the consideration Ryan, Al and Gyr. I will be glad if this website leads to more water conservation. I don't have any answers but you can always ask questions on the site. i'm sure they will appreciate the interest and your thoughts. Min

    Bookmark   June 30, 2013 at 10:32PM
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napapen(ca 15)

Rather than do that, put in swales. I have a good size property but I have had 7 swales dug. They are open ditches with no openings. The water can stand in them up to 3 days as it goes into ground water storage. I have planted drought tolerant plants that I seldom water. It has been working well for 4 years. Rather than leaving them open as I have done, you can also fill with dead twigs, stones etc and then cover and the water will still have a place to go.

I also collect rainwater and that is very easy. Penny

    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 10:50AM
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Another good way to hold water on your site is with dry wells (particularly useful if you have clay soil and you want to avoid the standing water hazard of swales - mosquitoes).


    Bookmark   July 1, 2013 at 9:03PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

It's different than a collection system. It helps recharge the groundwater.

Doubt it's a do-it-yourself project. Around here, municipal agencies are involved.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 12:58PM
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At the UCCE South Coast Research and Extension Center (that's a mouthful) we have demonstration gardens to demonstrate water savings and reduce runoff. We have a big swale out in front with buffalo grass growing at the bottom. If you're in Orange County in October, come to our open house.

Here is a link that might be useful: Water Quality Outreach

    Bookmark   July 2, 2013 at 8:53PM
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I've seen that before--years and years ago- in a program that was filmed in the PNW. I guess where you get some summer rains like in Arizona that works too. Now,if are talking about California and typical bungalow homes,its not practical. Small lots cant store a lick of water but more then a small goldfish ponds worth.
I just plant Xeric plants in front,don't bother with gutters other then the front door walkway..the rest goes to the side yards. And Its never rained enough to cause more then a smallest of puddle to form. Plants like Palms or GBOP that can take much or little water are planted there.
Most of these "plans" seem to be workable for large country lots, the typical city home I would think is going to take too much complicated gray water systems...better to just use less water.

This post was edited by stanofh on Sat, Jul 6, 13 at 13:06

    Bookmark   July 6, 2013 at 1:04PM
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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

My uphill neighbor waters so much, water pours down the gutter every morning and runs by my house. I sure would love to collect it and use it in my yard. Seems like such a waste.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 1:48PM
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Min3 South S.F. Bay CA

O I hate to hear that- water wasters drive me crazy. i guess there is no way you can use it or you would be. Some people can be so uncaring. Min

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 4:09PM
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socalgal_gw Zone USDA 10b Sunset 24

Our sidewalk slopes towards the property instead of the street, so I get to use some of my neighbor's runoff! I made a little ditch just along the sidewalk and plant annual flowers that need lots of water. I made a few deeper areas filled with rocks to water larger plants.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 7:29PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

stan, you are wrong about small lots. They have they have the potential to store thousands of gallons of water in the soil. Sure, they don't have much room for surface storage, but the soil column has enormous storage potential.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 8:54PM
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Brad Lancaster ( spoke at an Ojai Valley Green Coalition event a couple years, or so, ago. He got a standing ovation from a packed house.

Bought both his books, took a two-day class from him and a Santa Barbara Greywater and permaculture expert, Art Ludwig (

In the State of California we now have approved Greywater "code" that was written by Art.

Small lots have an amazing potential for storing rain (when we get it).

The video below is definitely compelling:

Here is a link that might be useful: TreePeople's Hall House Sustainability Demonstration Site

    Bookmark   July 23, 2013 at 7:47PM
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