Home and Garden: Fusing with Nature L2L

By Chet Zebroski

It’s no secret that California is in a severe drought.  While there is discussion of high priced tunnels, desalination plants, and dams to assist in CA’s water needs, conservation is by far the most powerful tool we can make use of.

To emphasize that point, California has recently adopted Grey Water building codes statewide.  There are many new commercial buildings (and residential buildings) that are implementing grey water and rain water systems to offset utility costs and to gain independence from increasing costs related to water.  Not to mention respecting and honoring this precious element.

As an overview, San Francisco has provided a booklet explaining many of the tactics for code approved grey water installation and use.  Some tactics are more complicated than others and requir permits.  While this guide is for San Francisco residents, it’s information applies statewide.  Check with your local jurisdiction to understand what is required in your area.


This post is to inspire homeowners to acknowledge how water use, or conservation, is within our grasp.  One of the easiest tactics available is Laundry-to-Landscape.  L2L simply uses the laundry’s washing machine pump to pump it’s waste water directly into our gardens.  Using the correct laundry soap, this water is perfect for fruit trees which require deep watering, for example.  Using complimentary plantings beneath the tree canopy, this tactic will provide many benefits by way of beauty and nutrition.

Oasis Design, a leading grey water proponent, has many excellent open sourced resources available to inspire conservation and garden layout.


We started our L2L installation last year and intend to complete the runs and preliminary plantings this year.  These few photos share the source connection through the garage to the outside wall.  We’ll be tying into this grey water line and will share those photos when complete.

laundry to landscape

Garden Gate – Recycled Heat Register Grill

garden gate

By Chet Zebroski

One of the things we’ve learned to enjoy over the years is seeing traditional architectural design merge with contemporary design aesthetics and production values. A lesson we learned from Barbara Winslow, while working at JSW, was her ability to honor traditional architecture while merging with our casual California atmosphere. She consistently brought into her designs recovered artifacts such as doors, panels, tiles, which would take a significant place in the new design. Her method reminds us of work from other artists who spend much of their time researching and learning traditional methods in order to evolve their newer concepts and techniques, merging the two.

With that in mind as we developed the gate to our rear yard, it was inevitable that something old would be within the new gate. In this case we discovered a beautiful rusty old heater grate and realized it would make the perfect peek-a-boo spot to see beyond.

recycled heat register grill

Enamored as we are by the combination of curved and squared shapes, the grate takes on an arch top frame to match the arched top of the gate which is surrounded in it’s squared frame.

To carry on with the aesthetic we used an iron locking door set instead of typical gate latch. The combination seems to have been made in heaven! Well, to some anyway!

garden gate handle

Respect, Recycle, Reuse is the catch phrase of the day for us. Not everything has to be brand new as we remodel our nest. We wish you happy hunting as you rummage through the many new venues warehousing these valuable artifacts for your next project!

Garden Design – Benefits of Shadow

By Chet Zebroski

In this section our intent is to share what we’re learning about in harmonizing our buildings more with nature. To start we’ll share some pics of our home garden and a basic strategy applied.

You’ll notice we keep a shaggy environment around the house. We do so to create habitat and food/nectar for the pollinators we share space with, to enhance privacy, and to counter heat gain. We prefer the chaos of nature and tend to allow borders to dissolve, like nature. We try to identify and group plants that work well together in their particular micro-clmate, attempting to mimic nature by creating a healthy interactive synergy.

Due to potential direct and reflected heat gain from the summer sun we allow our trees to provide broad shadows and we’ve trained Jasmine to entirely cover the brick veneer that faces the street.  Doing so provides an opportunity for shade to cool the concrete driveway and prevents heat build up on the brick veneer, thereby reducing reflected and conducted heat build up inside the house.

This is a tactic of energy free, passive cooling, shelter enhancement.