Avid birders Randy Beaton and Sid England required a low-maintenance garden that takes care of itself much of the time. They also wanted to create a front yard that would support native creatures and what better way than by using native California plants.
The Bayon’s front yard displays Eva’s passion for and education in botany. An avid plant collector, Eva and her husband have created a miniature rock garden in their relatively small yard with the artistic placement of boulders and rock mulch, all anchored and softened by a variety of perennials that range in size, color and growing habits.
Many succulents are well adapted to low-water landscapes because their thickened leaves store water, providing them the ability to survive dry, hot climates. Softer leaved succulents like Echeveria prefer shade in our region while the larger, cold-hardy Agave and Aloe species do well in full sun.
Ria takes the commitment to water savings seriously; first renovating her backyard two years ago, and last fall tackling her front yard. Birch trees and high-water turf were removed. Now this east-facing front yard features subtly sloped areas behind two curved walls. This additional hardscape creates a structure for spreading mats of white lantana and red verbena whose long-lasting blooms add color and attract a variety of butterflies.
When Kiers' family moved into their mid-century-style home in July 2014, the front yard was a traditional patch of Bermuda grass and boxwood hedges. But, as a landscape architect, Kiers knew what to do next — the lawn had to go.
A year and half after Stacey Parker, GATEways horticulturist for the UC Davis Arboretum and Public Garden, took out her front lawn via cardboard sheet mulching, her yard continues to thrive. Her advice to homeowners looking to do the same: start with a plan.
Now, as landscapes are being revamped due to the drought, and lawns are removed or let go, the UC Davis campus, the city and its residents are in a position to serve as an example of how urban areas — particularly urban areas in the heart of agricultural country — can support global crop production through small changes in landscape choices.
If you allowed your lawn to die this summer to save water, now is the time to replace it with water-wise landscape plants, say landscape specialists from UC Davis. Autumn, with its cooler weather and anticipated winter rains, is the best time in most areas of California for landscape planting.
Are brown lawns the new normal? Facing that question a year ago, Ria de Grassi, longtime Davis resident, removed her backyard lawn and hopes sharing her experience can help others who struggled, like her, with where to begin.