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Natives in the Garden

Steep Slopes

Steep slopes are, well, steep! Difficult to navigate and a challenge to mulch and irrigate, nevertheless they are ideally suited to native plants. Natives are unparalleled at stabilizing slopes (you don’t often hear of landslides in the chaparral). They love the perfect drainage, and many are large enough to just sprawl down over large areas. The shredded redwood bark that we use can stick to grades as steep as 1.5:1. In addition, we like to add paths and sitting areas so that our customers can utilize these specials parts of their yards (after all, you are paying taxes on it!).

Colorful Path on steep slope
Retaining walls stabilize and add beauty Natives benefit from good drainage
The nativeplants stabilize steep slopes Functional path on a steep slope
  Difficult slope managed with stairs and retaining walls

Next to Lawns

Ecologically, a lawn is modeled as a fresh water marsh. All that water, fertility, disturbance – you get the picture. Therefore we need to add water tolerant natives as a buffer between the “marsh” and the drought-tolerant natives. Fortunately we have a number of plants well-suited to this mission, like Seaside Daisy, Goldenrod, Hummingbird Fuchsia, and Yerba Buena. These help suck-up the extra moisture and fertility and allow us to use chaparral species behind them.

Water-tolerant natives next to lawn

Bad Drainage

There are two ways to handle bad drainage. Either create a swamp ecology, or devise some mechanism to remove the excess moisture. We usually prefer the later, and that is a perfect situation for a dry stream. They help remove the water, allow it to percolate in other areas of the yard, and filter the water before it goes off-site. They are great for addressing the problem of storm water run-off, which is becoming a huge issue. People can be slapped with serious fines for allowing sediment laden water to run off into the street. Also, by keeping most of the moisture in the stream, it creates its own riparian ecology complete with streamside plantings, and the mycorrhizal fungi can actually take up some of the excess moisture and move it to where it is needed in the rest of the landscape. Create good drainage

Tight Quarters

Often clients want to create some natural privacy for themselves, but only have a limited space to do it in. Instead of a wall, or bamboo, we have a number of native shrubs that grow much taller than they are wide. One of the classic plants is the Island Mountain Mahogany, Cercocarpos alnifolius, that is only 4 feet wide but 8-12 feet tall with evergreen leaves to the base. Other plants that fit in this category would include Ceanothus cyaneus, Cean. ‘Sierra Blue’, Cean. ‘L.T. Blue’, and Cupressus goveniana, or Gowen’s cypress. Privacy in tight quarters
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