Home Landscape with Natives

By Rhonda Allen

This month we are sharing a local home landscape to provide an example of how to reimagine your yard without lawn. Many area residents are now replacing their green thirsty lawns with drought tolerant plantings, which we would like to share to provide some inspiration for others who may be considering this.

This first landscape is in Modesto at 412 Covena Avenue. The owner says he was inspired by the plants he viewed in the La Loma Native Garden.

The focal point is the palo verde tree, which is attractive with its yellow blooms.  Santolina borders the hardscape walkway and silver carpet is used to fill in bare areas between the stone.  Other plants are deer grass, Santa Barbara daisy, a variety of yarrows,redbud, milkweed, alum root,, blue grama grass, ceanothus, and a butterfly bush and statice to add additional color and  pollinator appeal.  This garden has a pleasing combination of drought tolerant natives and non-natives.

This garden was started 3 years ago, when the owner, Jack Bland, decided to remove his ailing lawn and an unhealthy tree. He worked with a landscaper to design the planting area, walkway, and underground drip system.His goal was water conservation, but he gained so much more than he expected. He says his front yard is now a functioning ecosystem, with birds nesting near his window, a variety of bees and butterflies are in continuous flight around his property. He enjoys coming out in the early evening just to watch what’s going on in his yard. Most of the plants were installed in spring of 2022, so his little paradise is only a year old. He highly recommends the city turf replacement program and water efficiency irrigation rebates, which he utilized for his project and helped pay for the transformation.

The second home, at 413 Fusco Avenue in Modesto was developed a year ago, with lawn removal in late summer of 2022, followed by planting in September and October. The owner, Kim Simmons, did all the work herself and also was inspired by the La Loma Native Garden, which she visited regularly to gain ideas for what plants to use.   She decided to install only natives, with the exception of a hibiscus tree growing in her yard.

She added rocks, logs, a water feature, and mulch. Native plants she chose are: buckwheat, ceanothus, flannel bush, deer grass, silver bush lupine, foothill penstemon, sticky monkey flower, sulphur buckwheat and yarrow. She loves her new drought tolerant landscape, which has been a passionate endeavor for her. She hopes to inspire more of her neighbors to remove their lawns in favor of a native habitat that is a model for water conservation.

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