“California Contemporary” best describes this meandering 13-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 ceanothus, matilija poppy, toyon and fremontodendron. Of note: an eclectic display of garden art made entirely of recycled or reclaimed materials. Design: FormLA Landscaping.
A steep drive leads to a two-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 very old 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
This two-year-old, 4,500 sq. ft. coastal garden is child- and dog-friendly and designed for outdoor living. Colorful, fragrant natives and other Mediterranean-climate plants draw birds and insects, especially butterflies. Challenging soils drove plant selection. All areas employ drip irrigation with smart controllers. Design: Fleur Nooyen and Associates
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 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. Watered with subsurface irrigation, and using rain barrels and infiltration pits to control run-off, this is a garden of the future. 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 Landscapes
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 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.
Established over 22 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. Homeowner designed with assistance from Rogers Weld.
A front and back garden surrounding a historic Craftsman-style home! This maturing landscape was started in 2008. The style for is “California Apocalyptica,” fusing native flora (some quite rare) and recycled materials with recycled tools and other implements as sculpture. A vast plant palette and gurgling fish pond attract birds and insects all year. Owner designed.
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, birds and butterflies (including monarchs), fragrance and year-round color in both shady and sunny locations. Design assistance: Nick Dean.
Carefully designed on a tight budget as part of the homeowners’ low-impact lifestyle, native plants were selected in this garden 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. 1,800 sq. ft.
Natives and succulents that attract birds, bees and butterflies fill beds and containers in this landscape. A permeable path in the four-year-old front yard leads to a rocking love seat. New side yard plantings incorporate concrete salvaged from the driveway. The back garden, installed 2007, features sun-loving shrubs, wildflowers and a very popular bird bath. Design: Grow Outdoor Design
Mature ceanothus, manzanita and toyon anchor a front yard that includes numerous sages, globe mallows and a fabulous penstemon collection. This small, casual 18-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 natural-style, owner-designed 4,000 sq. ft. landscape is nearly ten years old. Ivy and lawn were replaced with wildlife-attracting drought-tolerant natives, and paths and raised beds of recycled concrete. Despite such challenges as heavy soil and surface tree roots, the front garden is flourishing. Back and side yards were revamped in 2009.
This small all-native front yard makes a big impact in the neighborhood! Planted in 2011, this garden attractively fits several sustainable features into 600 sq. ft. of space, including a dry streambed, rain chains that direct runoff into an underground collection site, and permeable hardscape. Native grasses, California fuschia, and a handsome palo verde enhance this refreshingly designed space. Design: Land Matters
This front and back landscape, planted four years ago and totaling 2,000 sq. ft., includes native plants from varied environments (sun and shade, wet and dry). Clay soil is a serious challenge. Reduced water use and low maintenance are key goals, as is showcasing the beauty and diversity of natives. The front features a huge tree mallow. Recycled hardscape and deck, garden sculpture, containers and fountains add interest.
Passers-by stop to enjoy the beauty and fragrance of this six-year-old, 1,320 sq. ft. front and side garden, which are a personal expression of the owners’ love for the outdoors. The new 1,500 sq. ft. back yard was implemented 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.