The LA Times featured a section on low-water landscaping options this weekend -- along with some photos (excerpted below) of sustainable landscape ideas:

On a Tustin street where lawn is the norm, Cheryl Dickey took out her turf in favor of drought-tolerant native plants and ornamental grasses that don't live off sprinklers. The result is a wilder, more natural look that feels more like a prairie than suburbia.

Cheryl Dickey walks through tall grasses toward one of the oversized birdhouses that her husband built. The structure is draped with solar pads, and the white sign indicates the garden was certified by a monarch conservation group trying to establish feeding habitats for the butterfly.

The Shady Canyon neighborhood in Irvine is a rarity: a planned community where the landscaping is designed with sustainability in mind. Garden writer Nan Sterman visited the Irvine Co. development, and among the noteworthy gardens she saw was this front yard where visitors are welcomed by olive trees. Dusky colored lavender, rockrose and Mexican bush sage are kept tidy by neatly pruned boxwood hedges that line the walkways. Pots of pink-flowering geraniums mark the transition between public area and private area.

At the same Shady Canyon home, designer Erik Katzmaier of Katzmaier, Newell and Kehr in Corona del Mar divided the rear garden into spaces that play off the home’s architecture. Tall vertical elements were placed to preserve sightlines. The round fire pit adds to the strong geometry of the design, and pathways of soft gray pea gravel complement the home’s walls.

Front lawns are prohibited in Shady Canyon, so at a different house, designer Mike Dilley of MDZA Landscape Architecture in Corona del Mar designed an informal pathway that leads from the motor court to the entry. Chaparral flagstone pavers float in a bed of bird's-eye pea gravel. Dilley chose Mediterranean plants such as rosemary ‘Tuscan Blue,’ Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ and olive trees. After the sun goes down, candles set the glazed urns aglow.

In the backyard, Dilley chose a palette of gold, green, silver, purple and white to complement the home’s stone facade. A table provides a nice spot for summer dinners, and comfortable seating allows the family to relax around a blazing hearth on cool winter evenings.

Click here for more photos.

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Replies to This Discussion

James -
Thanks for sharing this - I had missed it. These are a lot of the same plants that we used and the wild life they attract are wonderful! We have hummingbirds constantly, far more birds of all varieties then we used to have. These gorgeous big black flying beetles (?) that hover around the flowers. A lot of butterflies and yesterday we had a monarch butterfly that had I think a 6" wing span - it was amazing! I was awakened Sunday morning at 4:40 AM by a possum that was eating from our dog bowl on the patio - when I turned the light on the sweetest face was staring up at me. We would not get more enjoyment from an expensive resort!


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