Test Garden


The Potrero Gateway Eco-Patch builds on the work done to establish 17th Street , San Bruno Avenue and Vermont Street as the Potrero Gateway . The Eco-Patch features native San Francisco plants with the intention of providing wildlife habitat and restoring biodiversity in San Francisco. This particular piece of land is situated above serpentine bedrock, which underlies portions of San Francisco (see map above).  The selection of plants that survive and thrive in serpentine conditions highlights the natural history of the site and creates habitat for wildlife, such as the Bay Checkerspot Butterfly, which have coevolved with those plants.

This project posits that the Eco-Patch can grow into a demonstration garden to serve as a resource for the greater community that showcases the ecological and aesthetic benefits of habitat restoration. By design, the Eco-Patch encourages imitation, as it seeks to show the positive impact that a network of habitat patches can have on biodiversity. Geographic isolation caused by habitat fragmentation is one of the leading causes of biodiversity loss and so a network of patches in close proximity helps remedy this.

In San Francisco there is already a precedent for habitat corridors composed of patches that create stepping stones for wildlife. In particular, the project is inspired by the success of the Green Hairstreak Butterfly Corridor led by Nature in the City. Currently, the habitat corridors needed to get rare and endangered wildlife that depend on serpentine adapted plants from their current locations to the Potrero Eco-Patch do not exist. However, if enough patches are planted, wildlife can access the Eco-Patch and beyond.


The first stage of the Eco-Patch is a 900 square foot test patch that includes a select number of plants from our proposed list. Monitoring of the test patch will determine the site suitability of specific plants and the success of different weed management strategies. Installation, maintenance, and monitoring of the test patch is a volunteer effort with funding for material costs from the Dogpatch & NW Potrero Green Benefit District.

The test patch is adjacent an existing Coast Live Oak that serves as a keystone species. Plant selection is based on the criteria of being native to San Francisco, and of having high habitat value. Additional considerations include being low-water use, wind tolerant, and adapted to or tolerant of serpentine soils. Eight combinations of plants will be tested to ensure dynamic seasonal changes and aesthetic harmony.Each combination of plants is then divided into three different management zones to test alternative management approaches to removing existing vegetation and weed removal. The knowledge and experience gained in the test patch, including cost, time and labor will inform the management approach for the full Eco-Patch project.


We want this project to be an asset to the neighborhood and so welcome your feedback!   As it is primarily a volunteer effort, we also welcome your participation. Please email pgploop@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering or if you have feedback to share!

Wildlife monitoring will be done through the iNaturalist application.   The project is registered on iNaturalist (https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/potrero-eco-patch-monitoring-area). Recording observations on iNaturalist is an easy way for individuals to make meaningful contributions to this project.

Get on iNaturalist and start recording!

We want to document current conditions so that we have a baseline to compare with post-planting. In addition, knowing what butterflies, insects, and birds are already present can help inform the plant selections to fortify the habitat of those already in the area. Since the site itself is not accessible to the public, we are encouraging monitoring of wildlife within a quarter mile radius of the site.


Design work: Field Collective
Photographs: eddie@naturetrip.com 2020 & Terri McFarland Landscape Architecture (TMLA) 2020 (Stipa pulchra)

Potrero Eco-Patch Test Garden Project Partners:
Potrero Gateway Park Project
Dogpatch & Northwest Potrero Hill Green Benefit District
Field Collective
California Native Plant Society

Project Supporters:
San Francisco Public Works
San Francisco-Marin Food Bank
LYNGSØ Garden Materials