Established over 23 years ago, this large and magnificent landscape includes many mature natives as well as more recent plantings, all of which attract legions of hummingbirds, songbirds, insects and other wildlife. A steep hillside showcases plants for slope stabilization and erosion control. Other garden features include a dry streambed, several bird-friendly water features, a newly constructed hillside staircase, a fine succulent collection, and an exemplary cat run that give felines time outside while keeping the birds (and cats) safe. Certified by the Xerces Society as a Pollinator Habitat.
Homeowner designed with assistance from Roger Weld.
12,000 sq. ft. of a wide variety of native flora, including several rare bulbs, surround a carefully restored 1910 Craftsman-style house. The owners dub their aesthetic “California Apocalyptica: where the native plants emerge from the ruins of society.” Ingenious use of detritus left on the property, found objects, and concrete rubble merge with showy annuals and perennials, poolside formal native hedges, a koi pond, and a recently added urbanite cliff and running creek planted with unique aquatic natives. This owner-designed garden, started in 2008, has created a trend for natives in their historic Oxford Square neighborhood.
Photos: Philip Otto Photography
The abundant cottage-style 1,100 sq. ft. garden in front of this historic Craftsman-style home was planted March 2011. Achieved goals include water conservation (the lawn is gone!), runoff reduction, bird and butterfly habitat (including monarch), fragrance and year-round color in both shady and sunny locations.
Design assistance: Nick Dean.
A large graceful sycamore in this front yard shelters a colorful native shade garden. Planted in 2012, this 3,000 sq. ft. front and back landscape makes ample use of permeable paving to decrease urban heat and create microclimates for a mix of coastal sage scrub and woodland plant communities. The native flora provide food and shelter for butterflies and birds, minimize water use, and add color, fragrance, and seasonal interest.
Design: Carlos Flores.
In this garden, carefully designed on a tight budget as part of the homeowners’ low-impact lifestyle, native plants were selected to support local birds, conserve water, and provide the sweet fragrance of California sage scrub. A small retaining wall adds dimension and diverse topography to a flat frontal city lot of 1,800 sq. ft.
A dry streambed and use of recycled hardscape materials are just two outstanding characteristics of this owner-designed garden. The 2,000 sq. ft. front yard, planted in 2004, is a south facing terraced slope planted with sagebrush, coyote brush, and California lilac (ceanothus), among other attractive native and Mediterranean plants that provide seasonal color and require minimal maintenance. The back yard, planted in 2012, integrates natives with a productive edible garden.
An ascending drive leads to a three-year-old 2,000 sq. ft. front yard of sage, buckwheat, penstemon, and other drought-tolerant natives that provide color, support wildlife, and tolerate heavy soil. Enhancing the scene is a venerable coast live oak that elegantly overhangs the driveway. Drip irrigation and a weather-smart controller complement green elements of the home. Design: Nancy Cipes and Margaret Oakley Otto of Oakley Gardens
Photos: Philip Otto Photography
“California Contemporary” best describes this meandering 14-year-old 40,000 sq. ft. canyon landscape with distinct microclimates, challenging bedrock, varying degrees of sunlight, and proximity to wild land (and hungry deer). Native plants stabilize slopes, attract wildlife, frame views, and add color and texture year round—with especially dramatic spring floral displays from mature California lilac, matilija poppy, toyon, and fremontia. Of note: an eclectic display of garden art made entirely of recycled or reclaimed materials. Design: FormLA Landscaping.
NO PHOTOGRAPHY PERMITTED
This inspiring, small-space patio garden proves that it is possible for apartment dwellers to go native. An attractive medley of colorful pots, water features and vines for butterfly host plants bring native flowers and wildlife to a suburban Santa Monica patio located 2 miles from the ocean. Owner-built benches and small tables crafted from reclaimed lumber enhance the scale of this small piece of paradise.
A yarrow parkway and front lawn lead to a meticulously restored century-old home. The young, 3,900 sq. ft. landscape features native plants that provide a wildlife sanctuary, a Monarch butterfly waystation, an outdoor gathering space for poetry readings, edible plants, a small biological pond, permeable paving, and recycled hardscape materials. Features subsurface irrigation, rain barrels, and infiltration pits to control run-off.
Design: FormLA Landscaping
Santa Monica’s public demonstration garden, known as garden\garden, opened in May 2004 and consists of adjacent front yards showing two different approaches to garden design. The “California-friendly” garden showcases native plants, a dry creek bed and efficient irrigation, while the “traditional” landscape includes more-typical features brought to Santa Monica from the East coast. The native garden uses five times less water, produces less greenwaste, and costs 50% less to maintain than the traditional garden.
Design: Susanne Jett, Jettscapes Landscape
Photos: Philip Otto Photography
Designed by the landscape architect/owner to stop runoff from reaching the ocean, this three-year-old 3,000 sq. ft. landscape is located just over three miles from the coast. An infiltration swale, carefully terraced back slope, retention basins, and permeable paving keep water on site. A front yard meadow planted with an appealing tapestry of clay-tolerant natives requires only bi-annual maintenance, creates a street noise buffer, and provides a neighborhood oasis for wildlife.
Mature California lilac (ceanothus), manzanita, and toyon anchor a front yard that includes numerous sages, globe mallows, and a fabulous penstemon collection. This small, casual 19-year-old garden attracts hummingbirds, migratory warblers, bees, rare insects, and butterflies. The backyard recently underwent sweeping changes. Under the canopy of a mature palo verde the owners removed yards of concrete and planted a modernist native landscape with a ceanothus screen. Both yards are owner designed and maintained, and contain over 95% California natives.
This four-year-old naturalistic front yard showcases natives that thrive in heavy clay soil. A dry stream bed winds through the repurposed broken concrete path and terminates in a pool of multi-color rock. A number of bird-attracting features are placed throughout the garden and dry branches are carefully placed for stylistic accents. Design: Ulysses Aban of UA Botanical.
This 20-year-old community garden is a long-standing bastion of earth-friendly landscaping and important neighborhood wildlife habitat. Irrigated mainly with reclaimed water, the 2/3 acre property is planted with a colorful medley of mostly California natives with other attractive Mediterranean-climate plants that thrive in sandy soil and coastal conditions. A pondless waterfall, dry streambed, and composting toilet are just a few points of interest. Look out for the official Manhattan Beach City Flower, beach primrose (Camissoniopsis cheiranthifolia), propagated by volunteers on-site.
This young, 4,000 sq. ft. landscape combines features of a traditional California mission- style garden with modern elements to complement a 1925 Spanish Revival-Style house.
A palette of predominately California native plants, many endemic to the Channel Islands, provides year-round interest and wildlife habitat. A permeable driveway and walkway, as well as underground infiltration pits, all capture rainwater onsite. Concrete repurposed from the former driveway provides ample garden seating and low walls for a productive kitchen garden.
Design: Oakley Gardens
Photos: Philip Otto Photography
Front and back lawns, removed without the use of chemicals, previously covered 75% of this 2500 sq. ft. landscape. Planted nearly two years ago, the front yard of is an inspirational mix of California coastal prairie and sage scrub designed to move water away from the house, allow for on site percolation, and provide wildlife habitat for native bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. The backyard mixes shade-tolerant natives with other Mediterranean- climate plants, and features a lovely garden room structure.
Design: Land Matters
Eight years ago, the owners of this 6,000 sq. ft. property set out to create a garden that appeals to all the senses. A mix of several native plant communities with red, yellow, and purple blooms provide year-round habitat for birds, butterflies, bees, and small mammals. Additional elements include a re-circulating stream, curving decomposed granite pathways, dry-stacked garden walls, several areas for seating and contemplation, and edibles for people.
Over the past ten years, this homeowner has lovingly created a small, mixed native front yard that conserves water and attracts birds, butterflies, and other important pollinators. Peppered with creatively re-used items like tree trunks and Palos Verdes stone, and featuring a large (20+ ft.) native elderberry tree, this garden exemplifies a successful lawn-to-native yard conversion accomplished on a tight budget.
Passers-by stop to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of this seven-year-old, 1,320 sq. ft. front and side garden, which are a personal expression of the owners’ love for the outdoors. The 1,500 sq. ft. back yard was installed in 2011. All areas include drought-tolerant, wildlife-attracting native plants, plus sculpture, rustic furniture, and fountains.
Design assistance: Greg Rubin, California’s Own Native Landscape Design.
The empty lot next door, purchased from the lead singer of Metallica, has been transformed into a neighborhood botanic garden! Planted in 2006, this 12,000 sq. ft. space is a true wildlife sanctuary that supports over 110 species of birds. A natural path winds through a diverse forest of manzanita, fremontia, toyon, including the unique ‘Davis Gold’ cultivar, and much more. The path finishes at a park-style picnic area and productive victory-style vegetable garden.
Starting in 2006, high school science teacher George Nanoski has created three habitat spaces—coastal sage scrub/chaparral, Mojave/Sonoran deserts, and a vernal pool—that serve as an ecological laboratory for his students. “These spaces attract wildlife, allow for observation of species interactions, and educate students, staff, and the general public about California native biodiversity,” says Nanoski. “They provide valuable lessons on the effects
of anthropogenic resource exploitation and pollution.”Watch for several rare native species from desert regions and the Channel Islands.
This foothill landscape showcases unusual plants from the San Gabriel Mts. and local wilderness. The steep, narrow 4,000 sq. ft. garden, begun early 2011, includes terraces of local stone, rock water features, permeable paving, drains and swales, and formal and woodland plantings. Design: Orchid Black, Native Sanctuary
This demonstration garden, installed through a grant from the San Gabriel Valley Municipal Water District, is largely south-facing, with a variety of natives that thrive under the canopy of mature sycamore trees. Issues of maintaining visibility along the front of the school, and using the garden for classroom lessons, drove many of the plant choices. Other garden features include a dry streambed and local boulders from the San Gabriel River flood plain. Orange trees were added to reflect the historic nature of the campus.
Design: Environs Landscape Architects with assistance from The Theodore Payne Foundation.
In this striking seven-year-old landscape, well suited to its Mid-Century home, a dry stream bed with large boulders stabilizes a steep slope and provides climbing opportunities for children. A native meadow and firewise, low-growing varieties of native plants found in the nearby San Gabriel Mts. provide habitat and year-round color.
Design: Orchid Black, Native Sanctuary
Featured photo © Jane Tsong.
This two-year old cottage-style front yard of nearly 5,000 sq. ft., features an all-native mix of annuals and perennials to attract birds and butterflies and capture the essence of the southern California landscape. Reclaimed concrete was used to widen the driveway, and reclaimed brick makes for a patio and walkway. Rainwater flows off the roof and into a rocky streambed, infiltrating into a dry pond.
Design: Haynes Landscape Design
The front yard of this nine-year-old, owner-designed 1/3-acre “eclectic green space” includes drought-tolerant native and non-native plants, a dry stream bed beneath an old incense cedar, and a low-care parking strip. Behind the classic Bungalow-style home natives paired with succulents attract pollinators to herbs, vegetables, and mature fruit trees. Recipient of Pasadena Beautiful’s Golden Arrow Award and featured in the Fall 2012 American Bungalow.
This long, narrow decade old garden is semi-formal in style, with winding path, gabion wall, and rammed-earth bench nestled below a century-old coast live oak. Watch for spring wildflowers, a dudleya-studded cliff, many rare plants from California and Baja, and an art work “The History of the West.” Garden size: approx. 6,000 sq. ft.
Design: Scrub Jay Studios
Started in 2005, the plants selected for this cottage-style garden with elegant woodland elements provide a certified wildlife habitat, as well as beautiful and serene spaces for human inhabitants to retreat from street noise. Located on a former lakebed, this garden contains plants that tolerate heavy clay soil and features an enchanting outdoor garden room, permeable paving materials, as well as kitchen and cutting gardens.
Design: Terra Design
More than half of Pasadena’s only dedicated public garden is planted with California natives, the rest of the landscape features a mix of other lovely Mediterranean species. The three acre site features 37 “garden rooms” with many distinct native plant communities. Look out for vernal pools, alluvial sage scrub, bunch grasslands, several species of oaks native to Southern California, and many other rare and endangered California natives.
Design: Mayita Dinos
This half-acre property has been transforming over the past six years with the addition of mass native plantings to create a “wild” woodland garden that attracts native insects, birds, and butterflies while conserving water. In addition to a large heritage oak, the garden features creative recycled hardscape elements. Owner designed.
9,000 sq. ft. of oak woodland, grassland, and riparian woodland flora surround a beautifully restored Craftsman home. Started fifteen years ago, the owner-designed landscape demonstrates the gradual conversion from typical lawn-dominated yard to a vibrant native plant habitat garden with areas for entertaining and relaxing. Watch for the two show-stopping fremontias.
This two-year-old front yard successfully blends a modern and traditional aesthetic. The owner/designer wanted to replace a 2,500 sq. ft. lawn with something that was walkable, promoted habitat, and used less water and energy. A lovely and clay-tolerant carex and yarrow meadow is backed by drifts of coral bells, rush, and coffeeberry.
Started thirteen years ago, this steeply sloping 1,000 sq. ft. front yard captures the allure of the surrounding hillsides with a rustic plant palette that complements the Spanish Colonial Revival style home. A mix of chaparral and desert native plants provide essential slope stabilization, wildlife habitat, and can survive the site’s tough conditions. Owner designed.
This owner-designed, 6,250 sq. ft. garden was started in 1999 and uses no supplemental water. The cottage/woodland-style front plantings include manzanita, sage, oak, and a fine collection of native succulents. The more formally designed backyard mixes natives with other Mediterranean-climate plants. Both spaces were created for fragrance, wildlife value, water conservation, energy reduction, privacy, and easy maintenance.
Designed by homeowners dedicated to reducing their impact on the planet, this small, five-year-old all-native front yard uses a successful mix of clay-tolerant species to attract an abundance of wildlife. Also of note is a permeable driveway, solar-powered water feature, and vintage Chinese doors leading to an arbor covered by native grapes.
They killed their lawn! This three-year-old, owner-designed, 1,250 sq. ft. front yard is now a thriving wildlife habitat and gathering place for family and entertaining—and a showcase for colorful, fragrant native flora, water conservation, and energy and waste reduction. A chain-link fence covered entirely with native morning glory (Calystegia macrostegia ‘Anacapa Pink’) is not to be missed.
This large, cottage-style front yard showcases natives that can thrive in several different microclimates. Planted in 2011, this landscape conserves water, provides year-round color, attracts butterflies and birds, and requires little maintenance. A large porch features a lovely collection of native container plants, including several bulbs.
Homeowner designed with assistance from Eco-Landscape and FormLA.
This sloping three-year-old, 2,500 sq. ft. front yard feautures an eclectic mix of California native and edible plants watered by drip irrigation. Goals of this garden include saving water, growing edibles for the homeowners, and attracting birds and butterflies.
Design: Francesca Corra — Dirt Diva Designs.
A once weedy, neglected city lot was transformed without the use of chemicals into a bird sanctuary and neighborhood park. This narrow, 6,000 sq. ft. public garden was completed through the Studio City Beautification Association in 2012. Planted primarily with California native plants that look good year-round, this garden includes a gabion wall, numerous birdhomes, and a bird bath supplied continually with fresh water.
Design: Francesca Corra—Dirt Diva Designs.
Planted in 2011, this 3,300 sq. ft. front and side yard combines natural chaparral and woodland plantings with a dry creek bed and native grass meadow that embodies an authentic sense of place amidst the surrounding hillsides of the San Fernando Valley. The garden attracts numerous butterflies, lizards, birds, and beneficial insects. The permeable front walk and driveway were created by re-using on-site materials.
Design: Gardenscapes By Jill
Spanning two adjacent properties, these native landscapes were planted in 2009 and demonstrate a palette of clay-tolerant plants that can handle extreme San Fernando Valley sun and heat. Water conservation, neighborhood beautification, and year-round color were goals of the homeowners/designers, who water their natives by hand.