In fall of 2007, the landscape architecture firm of April Philips Design Works, Inc. and the landscape construction company of Cagwin & Dorward, in conjunction with Dixie Elementary School and numerous donors and volunteers, completed a Rain Garden in the drop off loop at Dixie Elementary School in San Rafael, California. The beautification project is a demonstration garden that educates the students and community about ecology, sustainability, as well as being a case study garden to advance sustainable landscaping industry practices beyond the current status quo. We especially wish to thank the Dixie Home and School Club and the Dixie School District for their generosity and support.

Located in a 3,800 sq foot median within the school’s main entry and vehicular drop-off, the derelict looking landscape had never been developed or planted due to insufficient school funding and water conservation requirements. The design team chose to design a garden that would reflect its Mediterranean, coastal bioregion and meet the following goals: 100% zero waste, pesticide free, rely on predominantly native vegetation, use only organic soil amendments to increase permeability and water retention of the local soils. In addition, to use only local recycled and salvaged materials, total reliance on seasonal rain water instead of irrigation and to be designed and built by 100% volunteer effort in order to be economically viable.

Saturday, November 17, 2007


On November 9th, 2007, April Philips gave a presentation to the whole school at 8:30am Assembly to kick off the awareness of beginning construction weekends of the rain garden. The rain garden presentation tied into the "curb your carbon" program.
On November 17, 2007, ground-breaking of the raingarden occured with help from Tad Jacobs and Marin Treemasters. The ground was tilled and shaped to break up clay and till in the top layer of bark to aerate the soil. The general shape of the path and the area for the natural drain rock cistern was dug and formed. Nothing was hauled off site.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dixie Loop Before Change

This is what the loop at Dixie Elementary looked like just before the transformation started.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dixie Plant List

The Plant List for the raingarden is 90% California natives. We will study how the plants flourish and expect to change out a few plants in the first year if they do not adapt to the conditions.