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Success Stories

Harmon Gardens: A Healthy Home Environment for Local Youth

Harmon Gardens provides 15 studio apartments for one of the Bay Area's most underserved populations, transition-age youth. The community provides a permanent home where residents can develop independent living skills while receiving supportive services.
Harmon Gardens earned the Bay-Friendly Rated Landscape designation for its sustainable landscape design. A permeable cobblestone pathway leads from the building entrance to a private courtyard garden, where contoured planting beds act as bioswales that capture 85% of average annual stormwater runoff.
Maintenance practices include feeding soils naturally as opposed to using synthetic fertilizers, applying organic mulch and using integrated pest management strategies to control pests and keep plants healthy without harmful chemicals.


  • To improve soil quality, conserve moisture and control weeds without herbicides, the soil was aerated to a depth of 12 inches and then sheet mulched with layers of recycled cardboard covered with 4 inches of local, recycled compost and mulch.
  • To minimize maintenance labor and plant waste, no plants were selected that require shearing and all plants have been provided adequate space so that they can grow to their natural size without excessive pruning.
  • Plants are grouped by their water needs (a practice known as hydrozoning), and are watered with high efficiency bubblers switched on and off by a weather-based irrigation controller. A dedicated irrigation water meter allows staff to monitor landscape water use. 
  • The outdoor lighting was designed to reduce light pollution and energy use.  
  • 12,000 gallons of irrigation water saved annually compared to a similar conventional landscape
  • 62% of landscape construction and demolition debris recycled
  • 2 tons of local, recycled compost and 2 tons of local, recycled mulch used
  • 75% of new plants are low water species
  • Bay-Friendly landscape practices reduced greenhouse gas emissions by an estimated 1.4 tons CO2E

Bay-Friendly Rated Landscape score: 75

Year rated: 2012

Bay-Friendly Rater: Cynthia Greenberg, Placeworks



Read SAHA's case study about the green building and Bay-Friendly features at Harmon Gardens.