I recently went back to revisit a clients garden in the city of Irvine to check on the garden progress and was pleased at what I saw. This was a front yard that was lawn and more lawn with some cracked concrete that had to be redone. Almost everything was gutted and replaced with California native plants, a few California friendly plants, pavers for the driveway and main path along with a wall to denote the outside seating area.
Some of the plants we used are:
Galvezia juncea 'Gran Canon' - Baja Bush Snapdragon
Kill your lawn and increase your property value! This has been my motto for the past few years and I stand by it. I get that if you need lawn for kids or dogs then by all means have it and hopefully you utilize more sustainable lawn options like Carex pansa. But otherwise I just don't see the point. In this case my clients in Mission Viejo had lawn and cracked concrete that they wanted to replace. The kids had fled the nest and having the lawn was no longer necessary. Their driveway was cracked and needed to be overhauled as it had also created various trip hazards.
In this case there was only one solution... Gut everything and start from scratch. The design intent was to use soft set flagstone throughout most of the garden and only mortar set it where it was necessary to do so. We also used California native plants to help bring in the local wildlife and added two rain barrels to catch whatever water comes out of the gutter. That combined with some boulders and accessories makes this a true sustainable garden.
The materials we used are:
Flagstone - color butternut (formerly known as oaklahoma buckskin) from Resource Building Materials in Lake Forest. They also have several other locations.
Rain barrels - provided by the homeowners local water agency.
Boulders - already existing on site and re-purposed.
I was hired by a nice couple in north Tustin/Santa Ana to design their front yard. It was a yard filled with grass, some shrubs and trees but not much of anything else. They wanted a yard that brought in all the beneficial wildlife, was pretty to look at and did not need much upkeep. What they got was just that with some hidden surprises.
This garden consists of decomposed granite paving, California native and some California friendly plants. A brand new overhead irrigation system, some lighting and boulders.
The plants are:
One dwarf Lemon tree
One Arctostaphylos 'Lester Rowntree' that is used as a statement large shrub
Arctostaphylos densiflora 'Howard McMinn' (McMinn Manzanita), Ceanothus thyrsiflorus 'Skylark' (Skylark Ceanothus) and Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland Sage) that is used as 6' tall accent shrubs.
Anigozanthus spp 'Red' (Kangarro Paw_, Hesperaloe parviflora 'Break Lights' (Red Yucca), Salvia millifera 'Hot Lips' (Hot Lips Sage) that is used as 3-4' tall accents.
Calylophus hartweggii (Sundrops), Erigeron 'Wayne Roderick' (Seaside Daisy), Heuchera maxima (Coral Bells) that is used as 1-2' high groundcovers.
Some succulents that were existing that were transplanted.
Flats of Carex pansa (California Meadow Sedge) that is used as a lawn substitute.
In regards to the irrigation and why we did not go drip... Well most of the plants are native to California and these plants in the wild are never drip irrigated. In this case we had to redo the entire irrigation system because some of the pipes were really old and in need of repair.
The only negative issue that we had with this garden is nut sedge. The homeowner's were certain that their gardener had removed it all but well as we found out after installation... Not so much. But with some care it can be removed never to return again.
This video is a progress from the beginning of the installation till the end. Enjoy!