Planning and planting for a dry future

It’s all about tradeoffs: beautiful lilies, dry lawn.

The Bay Area is prized for its mild winters and cloudless summers—the ideal Mediterranean climate, and as we’ve written about before, there is a wide selection of wonderful choices for our gardens that are well suited to going with less water for months at a time. Many of us have already opted to replace thirsty lawns with plants that sip, rather than gulp from the water supply. Here at Marin Art and Garden Center, although we primarily use well water for irrigation, cultivating gardens that show off the best of these varieties has been a long term project, as we have come to understand that water conservation can’t be something we consider only in drought years.

Recent news on water conservation hasn’t been good, and we are all likely to face sharper mandatory restrictions in the coming weeks. Your garden is likely the biggest consumer of water at your home as it is here, so read on for inspiration on ways to conserve in both the long and short term.

  • Removing weed cloth–if you have been using weed cloth to maintain your planted beds, evaluate whether it’s really doing its job. If it becomes covered in debris, weeds can take root on top of it, and water doesn’t permeate easily so the plants you actually want to thrive may struggle.
  • Mulching bare ground—using wood chips or other mulch helps the soil retain water and reduces the need for watering. If someone is doing tree work in your neighborhood, ask if you can get chips straight from the chipper, many arborists will gladly drop it off for you.
  • Assess your landscaping and consider removing high-water use plants—we have been taking out non-native and invasive plants and replacing them with varieties better suited to our climate.
  • Where you do have high water use plants, cluster them together to irrigate efficiently.
  • We have removed irrigation and high water-use plants located under the canopy of native oaks, replacing them with native plants.  These plants not only need less water, they help improve the health of the oaks, which prefer summer dry conditions. We’ve transplanted those high water use plants to areas where the tree canopy does require summer water.  
  • We are limiting new plantings to climate appropriate plants, such as California native species, Australian natives, and plants that are native to Mediterranean summer dry climates. We’re also reducing the number of plants we propagate overall, so each one has a purpose from the start.
  • We’re minimizing our use of thirsty summer annuals and planting them only in the Edible Garden & the Sun Garden; you will still see some annuals elsewhere on site, but these have self-sown from previous years!

More to explore

IRS Guidelines for Gifts from Donor Advised Funds to Support MAGC Events

Thank you for your interest in giving to the Marin Art & Garden Center events from your Donor Advised Fund (DAF) or Family Foundation.

We sincerely appreciate your generosity and support!

To ensure your gift follows the current IRS guidelines for DAF/Family Foundation support of an event, we would like to share the below guidelines with you.

  • Raffle tickets, tickets to galas and other special events, auction items, and benefits conferred in connection with a DAF/foundation grant are not permitted.
    • IRS has specifically ruled that fair market value associated with fundraising events cannot be separated, a practice known as “bifurcation.”
      • For example, with Edible Garden, if the price of the ticket is $200 and the FMV fair market value (non-tax-deductible amount) is designated to be $50, the donor must pay from sources other than her DAF/foundation for the full value of the ticket ($200) and not just for the non-tax-deductible amount ($50).
    • We recommend you confer with your financial advisor to confirm if any of these examples of how donors may still use their DAF to support an event would work for you:
      • A donor could sponsor the event, and not attend, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event using DAF/foundation funds and attend by purchasing an individual ticket through non-DAF/foundation funds.
      • A donor could sponsor the event, join the event as a guest of another donor/table guest, and pay fully out of the DAF/foundation.
      • A donor could sponsor the event and host the afforded number of people at their chosen level as long as they pay for the seats at the lowest ticket price ($200 for Edible Garden) outside of their DAF.
        • As an example, a $1,500 sponsor that covers 2 guests, could pay for their sponsorship with $400 from a different source of funds, and then give an additional gift of $1,100 out of their DAF.


Please email Tod Thorpe, Director of Development at to discuss your gift to Marin Art and Garden Center