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Tiburon: The lush lawn and drought-tolerant phormiums are irrigated with gray water.

Mill Valley: The gabion retaining wall funnels water into the garden.

Sausalito: Tucked into a lush hillside lot, the house lies above terraced gardens and an orchard.

Bernal Heights: The exposed pipes in the yard distribute gray water to the garden from the shower drainpipe, which is in the garage. Joshua, the homeowner, says he hasn't had to water the garden once since the system was installed.

Berkeley: From the courtyard, the cisterns are visible behind the slatted wood screen at the bottom right corner of the house.

The trickle-up Effect

Rain catchment is the new buzzword in green home design, and gray water the new gold. Five homes that don't let a drop of precipitation (or bath suds or laundry water) go to waste.