We are happy to announce that a project we worked on was awarded a global honor. The Children’s Museum of Sonoma county was voted #1 by the Landscape Architects Network as the best place to take your child globally. The criteria was meeting a child’s learning/exploratory needs that is not a play ground.

Check out the article here: Landscape Architects Network


The children’s museum is a mixture of playground, science museum, and adventure/water park that allows children to interact with different outdoor exhibits. It allows them to understand their local ecosystem and how they are affected by it.



We are very proud of being able to be apart of this wonderful project in creating the “Russian River” water shed.


How We Became Involved in the Children’s Museum:

It all started a few years back when Collette Michaud, the visionary of the Children’s Museum set up a consultation for a water feature in her own backyard. We showed her are portfolio of water features we had done (some of which can be found on the website).  She was impressed with how natural our water features looked.

She wanted us for the Children’s Museum.

Collette’s vision:
  • To create a place for children to learn about their environment but at the same time interact with that environment.
  • A water feature to help kids understand the Russian River water shed and what it means for our local environment like:
    • The water is used for agriculture.
    • The water is used for homes and cities.
    • The water provides for wildlife.
    • The water allows for steelhead fish spawn and head back to the ocean.


BUT…it wasn’t easy to get the project green-lighted.


The Hurtle through the Local Health Department

  • The project wasn’t going to happen.
  • The Health Department did not understand the natural wetland filtration that was involved to keep the streams kid-safe.
    • Ed Beaulieu and Fred Pape of Aquascape Inc. (our parent company) were instrumental in explaining the science of filtration to the health department official BUT STILL the project was not allowed.
The Coincidence

Collette was giving a concept walk through Mary’s Garden (Children’s Museum) in order to explain her vision to others.


When she got to a large area where the Russian River water shed area was supposed to be built. She mentioned to the group about the Health Department misunderstanding of the natural filtration so the water shed might not be built.


A woman in the group happened to be the HEAD of the Health Department and she understood the concept completely. She assured Collette it was going to happen.


Green Light

With the help of Ed Beaulieu and Fred Pape from Aquascape Inc., we built the Russian River water shed envisioned by Collette.


The water feature was up and running within a week with the help of our crew here at Sweetwater Landscaping and contracted help.


We moved 100 tons of material (200,000 pounds) in a week with 9 men and woman.


What the Water Feature Does

  • It simulates the Russian River water shed so that kids can fish from the stream (catching magnetic steelhead minnows from the stream).
  • The water system provides water for the water play tables that teach kids about hydrology by the use of hand pumps to make the kids work for their water.
  • It provides water to 3 bubbling rocks which the kids can play with.
  • There is also a Rain Water Harvest System near the vegetable stand which catches water from the shed roof. (The system is underground so you would never know it is there!)


The Challenges

  • Making such a large kid-friendly water feature that accomplished the goals Collette and her team envisioned. Like the water being not to deep as to be dangerous but still enough water for the minnows to run down the stream.
  • To build the water feature in such a tight time frame of a week because that is what other contractors could offer. This was challenging because of the size of the feature and all the different components that utilize water from the stream.


We Are So Proud

We are so proud to have been apart of Collette’s vision and to help on a project that gives kids a place to play but also learn about water. It is so incredibly special to us over here at Sweetwater Landscape that we were able to help Collette succeed in creating her dream. This is such an honor for Santa Rosa to have a globally recognized site for children and we are so happy to have been apart of executing the vision.




Our story went from a consultation for Collette’s own backyard pond to an amazing water feature for children at the Children’s Museum.


Thank you Collette Michaud for believing in us to create a beautiful natural-looking ecosystem for your dream and now a favorite place of children!


Check out the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County.