Marina Place

Benicia Sustainable Backyard

Food Forest Keepers: Terri and Steve

My wife and I lived in Concord for 26 years and recently moved to Benicia. We removed all the lawn at the Concord house and replaced both the front and the back yard and replaced them with dwarf fruit trees and raised vegetable beds.

On March 2013 we moved to Benicia – and within months removed the lawn from the backyard and have replaced it with raised gardens – growing mostly vegetables.  The front yard, which is now our food forest, was a very unattractive and unproductive ornamental landscape that was out of control.

We enjoy gardening and often our garden is the center of our entertainment for friends. We also like to eat from the garden as much as possible and enjoy sharing our produce with friends.

We saw this as a way to expedite our plan of replacing our front yard with a productive, easily accessible yard that more reflects the two of us. We were also interested in learning more about permaculture. Originally we had planned to put in a mini orchard – but after learning more about food forests and permaculture we found this better suited our home.

Site Details

Installation Date:

February 2015


700 square feet

Sun Exposure:

8-10 hours

Soil Type:




Secondary Water:


Roofwater Diverted to Swales

Total annual water impact:

30,719 gallons



Designer: David Mudge

Plant List:

Apple 6in1, Blood Orange, Brown Turkey Fig, Cherry, Fuji Apple, Lemon
Ceanothus, Blueberry, Lavender, Rosemary, Salvia
Banana, Calendula, Cosmos, Geranium, Lemon Balm, Lion’s Tail, Poppy, Sunflower, Yarrow
Lamb’s Ear, Strawberry, Thyme
Grapes, Nasturtium


The installation began with coffee and light refreshments, and preparation of the site by David.  After digging swales and following more instruction, we had lunch and then planted the yard.

The installation far exceeded our expectations. Not only was a lot done in a short time, we also got to meet many other people that share our passion for gardening. We also learned more about swales.

Finally, we celebrated by toasting the avocado tree with champagne.  It was a great day of learning and fellowship.



Vision for the Future

We are putting in tanks to save rainwater and may build natural rock walls on the upper side of the swales to give us more growing area. We also plan to dig up the ditch that makes up the upper swale and put a perforated pipe with gravel, and cover it again in wood chips to better spread the runoff from the backyard to the front yard.

We now have a sitting area in the front yard and often visit with the neighbors as they pass by. The neighborhood kids are very intrigued by the garden and ask a lot of questions.