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Pictures provide inspiration, however it’s important to choose plants that will thrive in your location. As you plan, be sure to notice your soil conditions, sun/shade exposure and microclimates around various parts of your property. This can help you develop your list of possibilities. Some plants like full sun, heat, low water and sandy loam soil that drains quickly. Other plants like partial shade, medium water and will tolerate clay soil.  In a recent article in the UC Master Gardener Program of Contra Costa County’s fall newsletter, Laurinda Ochoa writes, “All native plants grow best in soils and climate conditions similar to those where they evolved. For Contra Costa County that may be the oak woodlands and chaparral of the inner valleys, coastal scrub and prairie grasslands along the Bay, riparian woodlands along creeks, or sand dunes near Antioch.”

California Native Plants for Your Garden

native plant garden
Native California plants in Susan Friedman’s front yard landscape.

Planting California native plants in your garden adds beauty, diversity, habitat and food for local wildlife and pollinating insects year around. They are sometimes easier to maintain and require less water (almost no water once established) and no fertilizer or pesticides. Textures and form vary from more naturally “wild” looking to those that are neat in appearance. Some of our clients love the look of native gardens filled with 80% or more native plants, while other clients prefer a mix of natives, Mediterranean plants, succulents and non-native plants. As landscape architects, we design a plant palette that is suitable to our client’s tastes, theme, color preferences and water use budget (WELO). These plans can then be implemented by the homeowner themselves or by a landscape professional.

Your Personalized List of Native Plants

A great resource for plant selection is the website which can give you a list of specific California plants that are native to your actual neighborhood. These are plants that evolved in your landscape’s conditions and therefore are more likely to thrive. Simply enter your address and click to see all the native plants grouped together under headings like “Low Water,” “Very Easy,” “Shade” etc.  For a list of plants native to San Ramon and a step by step guide, see our April 30th blog An Amazing Resource for Native Plants.

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Kalich - Boulder fountain, Japanese maple tree, native planting, stamped concrete

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