October 1999

This Guide to the Revegetation and Environmental Restoration of Closed Landfills provides landfill managers, owners, operators, and local enforcement agencies with information on revegetation and environmental restoration in the closure of landfills. These techniques also should prove useful to conservationists in restoration or other habitat reclamation.

The guide is intended to serve as a bridging document between two State publications. These publications are Guide to Vegetative Covers for California Landfills, published by the California Integrated Waste Management Board (now out of print); and WUCOLS, Water Use Classification of Landscape Species, prepared by the California Department of Water Resources. These three documents should provide the project coordinator with the essentials for revegetation or environmental restoration. This guide also provides listings of other references and restoration resources in California.

The guide distinguishes between revegetation and environmental restoration as follows:

  • Revegetation involves the placement of plants, horticultural or native, on a project site. Relatively few, if any, other environmental restoration techniques will be applied. The plants can be an arbitrary choice of the project coordinator, with no regard for native species, their distribution or plant community design. A landfill configured to engineering specifications and planted with non-native grasses in regulatory compliance illustrates simple revegetation. Consideration for county approval of species should be made.
  • Environmental restoration will invariably involve revegetation. But, it also involves the extensive design and naturalization of project site contours, soil content and vegetative communities. The intent of environmental restoration is to create a seamless "repair" by emulating and supporting the native floral and faunal communities adjacent to and on the project site. The ultimate aim is for the project to be "assimilated" back into the surrounding environment.
    Environmental restoration is characterized by these elements:
  • A detailed reconstruction of the project site topography (elevations).
  • Site geomorphology (surface features).
  • Soil types conducive to the native plants of the project area.
  • Surface hydrology (water features).
  • Native plant species, their diversity, and distribution.