Low Impact Development

A key component of Channelkeeper’s work to combat polluted runoff is our effort to promote and facilitate the implementation of “Low Impact Development” (LID) projects in our region as an innovative and effective means of achieving two important goals – water conservation and environmental protection.

Low Impact Development is a technical term used to describe approaches to reduce runoff pollution by managing stormwater close to the source using the natural environment. Basically, it means figuring out ways to keep rain water on your property, by redirecting runoff, slowing it down, capturing it, and letting it soak into the soil.

We’ve compiled some basic background information and resources about LID which are provided below. We also produced a “Greener Gardens for a Cleaner Ocean” brochure which we distribute at community events and at local home improvement and gardening stores.

Why should you care about LID?

Stormwater runoff can transport pollutants from residential landscapes to the storm drain system, to creeks, and into the ocean. Runoff from residential neighborhoods can contribute to flooding problems. Water itself is becoming a more and more precious commodity. The rain water that runs off residential properties could be harvested and used for landscape irrigation. LID can help address all of these issues simultaneously.

How much will it cost to install LID features on your property?

Installing LID features at your home can require an investment in materials and labor, however, the total amount can vary greatly ($10s – $1,000s) depending on the scale of the project. LID doesn’t have to be expensive. Many LID features can be easily installed on your own, and there are local rebate and incentive programs available to help cover the cost of materials. For those looking to revamp their entire landscape, there are many landscape specialists in the Santa Barbara area who are familiar with LID concepts and who can provide assistance. However, don’t feel as though you have to re-landscape your entire property to make a difference. Any improvement you make to your landscape will help improve water quality, and by conserving water, you can reduce home irrigation costs as well. The effects of LID are cumulative, and any little bit you do makes a difference.

LID Features

The following LID features are among the most common types of improvements made to residential properties. Each provides its own unique water quality benefit and can be installed with varying degrees of technical expertise and expense. Click here for links to online resources to learn more about each type of LID feature.

Rainwater Harvesting Devices – Rain Barrels and Cisterns

Large containers that collect rainwater running off rooftops for later reuse to water lawns and gardens. *Channelkeeper has gorgeous wooden rain barrels available for $100.  Contact us if you’re interested!*

Rooftop Downspout Rerouting

Redirecting rooftop downspouts away from paved areas and onto vegetated areas allows water to soak into the soil rather than running down driveways and gutters to storm drains.

Rain Gardens

Landscaped depressions in a yard that collect and store stormwater, allowing it to percolate into the soil or evaporate gradually.

Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Replacing water-hogging plants and unused turf lawn space with native varietals can create beautiful garden spaces and result in tremendous water savings.

Soil Amendments

Compost and mulch allow for greater infiltration of water into soil while also nourishing plants, reducing erosion and filtering out pollutants.

Permeable Paving

Pervious concrete, pavers and other permeable pavements allow water to pass through and slowly soak into the soil. They can be used on patios, walkways and driveways.

Green Rooftops

Replacing traditional roofing material with a waterproofing layer and a growing medium for vegetation can produce many benefits, including stormwater management, energy savings, and aesthetic improvements.

Local Rebate and Incentive Programs

Get Cash for Making Your Garden More Water Wise!

Many local cities participate in the Smart Landscape Rebate Program, which is available for South Coast residential and commercial water customers. It offers a one-time rebate varying from $500 to $1,000 to cover a percentage of any combination of irrigation equipment and planting costs associated with upgrades or changes to your garden that will conserve water. The rebate program varies from city to city (see link below for what your city offers), but typically will cover: 50% of the cost of drip irrigation parts, sprinkler system efficiency retrofits and rotating sprinkler nozzles; 50% of the cost of water-wise plants and mulch; and 50% of the cost of a smart irrigation controller. Most cities require a pre-inspection site visit and project approval in advance. Landscapes for new construction are not eligible.

The Smart Landscape Rebate Program is available in the following service areas:

Carpinteria Valley Water District

City of Santa Barbara

Vandenberg Village Community Services District

City of Lompoc

Local Business Resources

Many local businesses are available to provide technical assistance and materials to help property owners implement LID features at their home or business.

Local Landscape Architects specializing in LID or eco-landscaping

Arcadia Studio

Billy Goodnick
(805) 687-1690

David Michael Frantz Landscapes, Inc

everGREEN Landscape Architects

Grace Design Associates, Inc.

Joan S. Bolton Santa Barbara Garden Design

Katie O’Reilly Rogers Inc

Oasis Design
(805) 618-2360

Van Atta Associates

Wilson Environmental Landscape Design


Local Nurseries and Supply Stores
La Sumida Nursery (Rain Barrels, plants)
165 South Patterson Avenue
Santa Barbara, CA 93111
(805) 964-9944

Ace Santa Barbara Home Improvement Center (rain barrels, plants, hardware)
415 East Gutierrez Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 963-7825

Orchard Supply Hardware
125 N. Fairview
Goleta, CA 93117
(805) 681-1500

Home Depot (rain barrels online, pavers)
6975 Market Place Drive
Goleta, CA 93117
(805) 961-4746

Island View Nursery (water wise plants)
3376 Foothill Road
Carpinteria, CA 93013-3078
(805) 684-1296

Island Seed & Feed (water wise plants)
29 South Fairview Avenue
Goleta, CA 93117-3323
(805) 967-5262

General LID Resources

The following websites provide an abundance of information about LID.


Funding for Channelkeeper’s Greener Gardens for a Cleaner Ocean project has been provided by Edison International.