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Landscape Design

His and Hers Gardenscape

A landscape designed for the sexes balances lawn & drought-resistant plants

By Anne Balogh, columnist
  • This residential yard makeover replaced much of the grass with garden beds dominated by native plant species that conserve water.
  • The yard before the project began.
  • Another view of the transformed landscape, showing the pathway made of permeable, decomposed granite.
  • A brick inlay in the new pathway adds decorative interest and a pop of color.
  • Flat-top boulders throughout the garden beds also function as outdoor seating.
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Project HighlightsLocation: Tustin, CA
Budget: $20,000-$30,000

The use of California native plants, which:

  • Are far more sustainable than nonnative specimens.
  • Require less water and maintenance.
  • Are beneficial to the environment and the local wildlife.

The use of decomposed granite, which:

  • Prevents runoff of rainwater to storm drains.
  • Is inexpensive and budget-friendly.

Even when it comes to landscaping, it appears that men are from Mars and women are from Venus. The owners of this Tustin, Calif., home are an example of this difference in viewpoint. They were ready for a total yard makeover, but they couldn't agree on the approach. She wanted more garden plants and much less lawn, while he, like many men, took pride in a well-manicured lawn and wasn't keen on losing it. They consulted with landscape designer Rama Nayeri of Creations Landscape Designs, who came up with a perfect compromise that satisfied them both.

Project GoalsThe main goals for both of the homeowners were to reduce the consumption of water and to create an outdoor space where they could sit and relax while enjoying their surroundings. To conserve water, the use of drought-tolerant native plants became a priority. To accommodate the new garden beds and pathway, the homeowners also agreed to remove more than half of their existing lawn.

Design ChallengesThe homeowners had a large lot size but a restricted budget and they wanted to complete the transformation of their yard without spending an arm and a leg, says Nayeri. The soil was also very rocky, which made digging and sod removal quite labor intensive.

Another goal of the project was to replace the existing walkways. The homeowners wanted their new pathway to be affordable, yet also prevent stormwater runoff, so the water would naturally percolate into the soil.

Plant ListHere are some of the drought-tolerant native California plants used on this project:

  • Red penstemon
  • Purple penstemon
  • Cleveland sage
  • Autumn sage (fuchsia and white)
  • Island coral bells
  • Blue-eyed grass
  • Golden-eyed grass
  • California iris (purple, yellow and white)
  • McMinn Manzanita

Design SolutionsNayeri chose a selection of plants native to California (see list) that would minimize watering and maintenance. Weaving through the garden beds is a path of decomposed granite, which provides a permeable surface to prevent water runoff. A brick inlay was added for decorative interest. "The inlay adds a nice touch of detail and a pop of color to the beige decomposed granite," says Nayeri. Another decorative touch are the large boulders accenting the garden. These also serve double-duty as outdoor seating within the landscape.

  • Pro Tip: Common cookie-cutter landscapes often use plants that are readily available but not very sustainable. Don't be afraid to step outside of the bubble and become the trendsetter. You can reduce your water bills and increase your property value through the use of native plants and other sustainable materials.

To satisfy the lawn lover in the family, the yard still retains an expanse of grass that serves as a nice counterpoint to the garden beds without dominating the landscape.

Landscape Design Firm
Creations Landscape Designs
Tustin, Calif.

Landscape Contractor
Laura Dalton Landscapes
Huntington Beach, Calif.

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