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This calculator demonstrates the benefits of choosing a regenerative landscape to help decrease water and chemical usage, green waste production, and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The calculator can help you estimate the water requirements, labor and emissions for your garden based on your choice of plants, irrigation systems, and landscaping practices.

ReScape California

ReScape California is an environmental workforce and marketplace development nonprofit that educates about and advocates for a whole-systems approach to earthscaping that works in harmony with the natural world and addresses the changing environment. ReScape’s earthscaping practices are based on 8 regenerative principles which foster soil health, sequester carbon, conserve water and protect habitat and valuable resources while reducing waste and preventing pollution in our communities and watersheds.

What is ReScape Landscaping?

ReScape California Landscaping refers to a comprehensive approach to the design, construction and maintenance of healthy, environmentally sound landscapes. ReScape California practices work with nature to reduce waste and protect watersheds and communities.

In the Sacramento Region, ReScape Landscaping was formerly called River-Friendly Landscaping. For more information about protecting our valuable water resources through stormwater pollution prevention, visit rescapeca.org and beriverfriendly.org.


ReScape 8 Principles for Regenerative Landscapes:

Who Should Use this calculator?

This calculator is for homeowners, landscape professionals, developers, and anyone else who wants to see how much water, time and money can be saved by creating a ReScape River-Friendly Landscape.

What will I learn from using this calculator?


Our hypothetical conventional landscape consists of a traditional lawn, with some medium-to-high water use flowers and shrubs, and an ordinary sprinkler irrigation system.

Our ReScape River-Friendly garden is made up of entirely of drought tolerant California natives or other low-water use trees, plants, and shrubs watered with an efficient drip irrigation system.

May I borrow, remix, or re-use the calculator for my agency or organization?

Yes. This software is open-source, released under the MIT free software license1. You are free to borrow, remix, or re-use any or all of the code on this site. To download the source code, go to http://www.waterresources.saccounty.net/Pages/riverfriendly.aspx Please provide credit of the original version to the following: Sacramento County Department of Water Resources, Pacific Institute and EPA Climate Showcase Communities Program grant.

This site works best in modern browsers, such as the latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer. Sorry, we haven’t developed a mobile version yet!

Updated August 2013. If you have problems, comments, or suggestions, please email Customer Service.

1 Open Source Initiative OSI - The MIT License, http://www.opensource.org/licenses/mit-license.php

Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) trap heat close to the surface of the Earth, contributing to global warming and climate change. These gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), and others.

Many of these gases occur naturally in our environment, but scientists have measured steady increases in most of these gases (all but water vapor in the list above) since the mid-1700s, when the industrial revolution began. Carbon dioxide, by far the most commonly emitted GHG, is released primarily by burning of fossil fuels (e.g., oil, coal and natural gas).

Because carbon dioxide is the most prominent GHG in the atmosphere, it is commonly used as the metric for measuring GHG emissions. In this case, other greenhouse gases, such as methane, are converted to “equivalent CO2” or “CO2-eq”. This approach is useful for standardizing and comparing emissions from different sources and across sectors.

In Sacramento County, like the state and country as a whole, the most common source of GHG emissions is energy use for electrical generation, transportation, and for heating, cooling and lighting in buildings. Energy is also used to treat and deliver potable water to our homes and to heat the water. For this reason, water conservation practices in your home and landscape will help to reduce GHGs and lower your carbon footprint.

River Friendly vs. Conventional Landscapes

River-Friendly Landscaping practices foster soil health, conserve water and other valuable resources, reduce waste, and prevent pollution of our air and waterways. For the purposes of this online calculator, we define the two types as follows.

River Friendly

Conventional Landscape