Perennial planting on newly paved path

The new landscape – plantings along a newly paved path

A Rebirth for Waldo Point’s Houseboat Community

Still standing after over one hundred years, Sausalito’s Waldo Point Harbor sits proudly on the San Francisco Bay.  It is located off Bridgeway at the north end of Sausalito.

Yesterday’s exposed electrical wires and other safety hazards is being replaced with beauty and order.  Waldo Point’s Houseboat Community now boasts a new sea wall. The land was raised upwards of 4 feet! 

There is fresh new paving. Brand new landscaping with grass, well-mulched planter beds and robust perennials. 

Gardeners’ Guild has been involved in the landscape installation portion of the project over the last few years.  Being a part of Waldo Point’s transformation has been immensely gratifying for us. Because of its historic significance we wanted to pass along the story of Waldo Point.  Its colorful history and the events leading to its renewal.

As of the posting of this blog, the project is in its final phase of completion. The photos below show it in progress. Future updates will include final photos.

Key Project Players

Dan Hughes, DVC Group
Civil Engineer, project management
Betsy Clark, Landscape Architect
Designed landscape
Cats 4 U
Site construction work
Gardeners’ Guild Installed landscape

A Storied Past
The houseboat community’s history has been well chronicled Look Magazine, Smithsonian, The New York Times and San Francisco’s local media.

Known as a haven for artists and bohemians, Waldo Point’s popularity surged after the WWII and peaked in the 60’s. It was colorful if chaotic.  Homes constructed from abandoned boats and shared electricity offered hippie squatters a place to indulge in creative self expression without the constraints of societal norms. 
Parties were notoriously loud, and the drugs psychedelic.

Example of shared and dangerous electrical wiring

Shared electrical wires

The 1970’s –  A Turning Point
Reality in the form of City Hall – came knocking.
Building code violations, sewage, shared electrical wires and other safety hazards signaled a turning point in the community’s fortunes.

City officials ordered the community to invest in repairs.  Indignant, the residents were defiant.  Bitter clashes ensued.  Two long decades would pass before urgently needed remedial work would be approved. 

And, as time passed Waldo Point’s demographics were quietly changing.
By the year 2000, it was a different community that soberly acknowledged their dangerous infrastructure and took action.

Flooded Parking Lot

Before Photo – A flooded parking lot

The Floating Home Association is Born
The newly formed resident’s organization began meeting with local officials and professionals to plan for badly needed improvements.
At this point their project was guided by stringent requirements laid out by the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC).

Rising Sea Level and Sinking Land
Flooded parking lot at least once a year.  See photo above.
At times flooding could sometimes flow toward Bridgeway, a main Sausalito artery.
Drainage problems resulted from salt water leakage into storm drains, corroding underground utility lines
Causing unsanitary conditions

Dangerous Infrastructure
Many houseboats were not up to code
Numerous safety hazards
Exposed electrical wires along the decks made walking hazardous
Ramshackle docks were in danger of falling

No Landscaping
The residents wanted trees, plants and grass to soften the look of asphalt.
An attractive landscape would provide needed visual interest for both residents and visitors. 

4 Foot Seawall was Constructed
Elevated the parking lot mitigating the threat of flooding

Raised the Grade Level of the Land
Requiring an enormous quantity of soil. And, a special blend of soil. There were weight restrictions so that soil wouldn’t become dislodged from bay mud underneath
Bottom layer – crushed lava rock over bay mud
Second layer – custom blended lightweight soil that had to be trucked in
Decomposed granite for pathways

Landscape Installation Included
Soil amending
Trees and shrubs
Lawn that was a special blend of native grasses
Site furnishings
Trellises and fencing

Birds-eye view of the Waldo project in progress
Crushed lava rock - bottom layer above bay mud

Shows crushed lava rock trucked in as first layer


No flooding after a recent King tide 
Much happy feedback from residents who enjoy the new landscaping
One quote from houseboat owner: “I can’t believe we have this beautiful garden!”
Brand new paved parking lot which easily accommodates residents
Photo below illustrates new lawn installation in Waldo Point Park

New turgrass installed in the Waldo Point Park

Waldo Point Park New Turfgrass

Girl Scouts from Troop #10240 in front of Gardeners' Guild truck

Girl Scouts from Troop #10240 of Sonoma

Last weekend, Robert Mercado, Manager at Gardeners’ Guild helped the Girl Scouts of Sonoma Valley pick up Christmas trees from 42 residents. The troop also collected $300 in donations.

Christmas trees, (shown below) are loaded in Robert’s trailer headed for recycling.
Troop #10240 brought much end-of-holiday cheer to residents glad to have one item crossed off their 2018 To Do list! 

Loaded Christmas trees on Gardeners' Guild truck

Christmas trees loaded on the GGI trailer headed for recycling



landscape drain

I’ve updated our post about drainage from March of this year.
We talk again about solutions to landscape drainage problems.
There is additional detail added including graphics that describe the drainage problems and solutions.
One of the solutions described below is a dry creek bed. It was a project of Gardeners’ Guild at Spring Lake Village.

1. Hardscape with Standing Water

Example of drain pipe clogged with tree roots

Includes patios, pavers, driveways, parking lots and steps.
If these areas have had standing water for some time it could be due to these issues listed below

Improper grading
Your hardscape may not have the proper slope and is directing water toward the building foundation. 

Blocked drains
Tree roots, leaves, mulch and other debris can blow into the drain from winds and rain

Corroded pipes
Over time, your drainage pipes deteriorate and will eventually collapse.

The Risks
Water can put your structure’s foundation at risk.
Storm water carries with it chemicals, debris, dirt, pesticides and other toxins.

Solutions for Standing Water 
Regrading.  Over time a property will settle.
Clear out drain grates and pipes (make a plan for their regular future maintenance)
Arrange gravel around the perimeter of drain grate to deter debris from blowing in.
On larger hardscaped commercial property areas more drains may be required.

2. Flooded Turf

Aeration process illustration

Above illustrates what aeration does

The culprit can be grading but a more likely offender is compacted soil.
Summer drought conditions and degraded soil will shrink pore space that normally accepts water and nutrients.
High foot traffic will also contribute to soil compaction. You can identify it by its hard surface.

Soil texture needs to be loose enough to allow water to pass through. Clay soil, common in the San Francisco Bay Area is the opposite!

The Risks
When water pools on top for a prolonged period, turfgrass will decline and rot.
You can observe it by smell – foul odor. 
You will also notice grey, red or orange spots and insects.

Solutions for Flooded Turf
Aeration. The soil is perforated which opens up its pores to allow nutrients and moisture. (See graphic above)
Build a dry creek bed.  It is a gully or a trench usually lined with stones and edged with plants to mimic the look of a stream.  They are beautiful and will help with drainage. See example below.

GGI dry creek bed project at Spring Lake Village, Santa Rosa

Dry creek bed under construction at Spring Lake Village Santa Rosa

3. Flooded Planter bed and other planted areas

 Example of flooded planter bed

A planted area or bed should be designed to allow the water to flow out and be distributed to other areas.  A proper slope needs to be calculated with a site level during the design process.

The Risk

Plant root damage will occur if soil is saturated for a prolonged period. When soil’s abililty to absorb water is tapped out it is considered saturated.

Solutions for Flooded Planter Beds

Re-grading will help with slope problem. Correcting this involves directing surface water to the lowest spot on the property which will empty into a drainage ditch, catch basin or well.
Good options include:
Creed beds (illustration above)
French drains
Bioswales. Increasingly popular and effective.  They are constructed to slow, collect infiltrate and filter stormwater.  They include a permeable storm bed. (See graphic below)

Bioswale illustration

4. Flooding Around Down Spouts

Solution to flooding around down spout

Example of re-directing down spout and into creek bed

This is a common problem.  In heavy rain down spouts can empty rainwater into the landscape.

The Risk

Your building’s foundation
Plant root damage, erosion and hardscape deterioration.

The Solution

A professional can re-direct the downspout.  A dry creek bed is an additional step to drive moisture away from your building.