Our Vision

We design and construct beautiful and functional landscapes that can thrive in persistent drought conditions.

The "New Normal" of disrupted weather patterns and hotter temperatures poses a significant threat to the health and survival of our outdoor landscapes. We plan each site for drought resiliency to protect our clients' investment and to ensure that they can continue to use and enjoy their landscapes when outdoor watering is restricted or prohibited.

Our design objective is to strike a balance between minimizing the amount of water and maintenance required to sustain the landscape, and create special outdoor spaces that enhance our clients' quality of life. Simply designing an arid, desert landscape is not our objective; the landscape must convey a sense of place, be aesthetically pleasing, have shade and shelter, reduce ambient temperatures, provide habitat and food for wildlife, and most importantly give inspiration and a sense of well-being.

Even in the driest times, the Southern California climate can sustain a rich and diverse landscape with few resources if the plant palette is climate-appropriate, rainwater is captured and stored, the water needs of the plants and trees can be met with seasonal rains augmented with stored rainwater, and the soil is full of healthy, active biology.

Our design process focuses on integrating the hardscape, grading, plant palette, rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems so they sustainably and efficiently collect, store and distribute water.

We strongly believe that technology can enable our drought resilient landscapes to become self-sustaining. Our proprietary automation systems optimize rainwater storage capacity and deliver water throughout the landscape when and where it is most needed to maintain the health of the plants. Because our automation systems have designed and integrated the rainwater harvesting and irrigation systems, they require little, if any, interaction with the client or their maintenance personnel.

 

Who We Are

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Marilee Kuhlmann

Marilee has committed herself to improving the landscape of Los Angeles.  She sees potential, applies alternative, responsible, sustainable principles and develops projects that consider land stewardship, potential local impact, water conservation, soil health, and the overall environment. She has participated in award-winning rainwater harvesting projects, LEED projects, water conservation demonstration gardens for public agencies and gardens funded by Santa Monica Sustainable Landscape Grants. As President of Urban Water Group, Inc. she oversees the design, budgeting and construction management of each project, drawing on her expertise in rain water harvesting, infiltration systems, LID (Low Impact Development) Best Management Practices, climate appropriate planting, and efficient use of potable and alternative water sources.

Marilee also currently serves as a member of the Los Angeles Community Forest Advisory Committee, as a landscape consultant for the City of Santa Monica, as a board member of the Southern California Horticultural Society,  and speaks to groups all over southern California about water conservation and the importance of watershed awareness.

 

Tom Rau

Tom is a licensed landscape architect dedicated to designing drought resilient landscapes in residential, commercial and public settings. He directs site planning and landscape architecture design with an emphasis on integrating the landscape elements, plant communities and rain harvesting systems to meet both aesthetic and functional objectives, and is also responsible for coordinating with consultants and permitting.  A graduate of the Landscape Architecture Program at UCLA Extension, Tom also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Architecture from UC Berkeley, and an MBA from USC. He has extensive experience in real estate development and project management, and is the Chief Financial Officer of Urban Water Group, Inc.

Additionally, Tom is an instructor for the UCLA Extension Landscape Architecture Program, and has taught design and installation workshops for Surfrider  Ocean Friendly Gardens Program, G3 Green Gardens Group, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, West Basin municipal Water District, and has contributed articles to The Journal of Green Building, Sunset magazine and Pacific Horticulture Magazine.