Why native plants?

It is all about biodiversity- a big word that drives all of our work here at the Habitat Corridor Project.  Yes,there are plants from other places in the world that are great for saving water and providing nectar for non-native pollinators; however, co-evolution of California’s flora with its fauna is one of the most compelling reasons for growing California native plants in your garden and supporting their continued presence in our urban environment.

Though many commonly used garden plants can supply nectar to bees, butterflies, and other insects- native plants do it just right - the right timing, the right nutritional content, the right floral structure.  They have done this for a long, long time and it is important to protect their place in our urban landscapes.

We have a California native for every one of your favorites:

Lavender - use Salvia clevelandii (California Sage)

Privet or other edging shrubs - use our beautiful Rhamnus californica (Coffeeberry)

Camellia - use Ribes sanguineum (Flowering Currant)

Fountain Grass - use Muhlenbergia rigens (Deer Grass) or California Wild Rye (Leymus condensatus)

Please email us with your plant and we will find a California native substitute:)  [email protected]

SRJC Design Templates and Demonstration Gardens – Breaking Ground!

Enjoy our newest set of plans appropriate to many regions in California but designed specifically for Sonoma County.
1. Gardening under the Oaks is easy and drought tolerant with the right plant choices and care not to water in the summer
2. Perennial Meadow – Perennial bunch grasses and flowering shrubs create a gorgeous garden full of habitat
3. Fire Safe Landscape – protect your home with defensible space and fire resistant plants
4. Extremes of Drought Tolerance: Desert and Coastal Plant Communities – Gardening by plant community is important because these plants have evolved together.  West of Hwy 101 many can use the coastal plant community East desert plants are well adapted to heat and no water for long periods of time.

Designing for California

The plants of California can fit in any design style from English Cottage Garden to Modern.  We at the Habitat Corridor Project don’t stick to one style but a few elements are consistently in our gardens.

  1.  Boulders – big ones, flat ones to hold water for pollinators, small ones for swales and pathways.  Mossy, smooth, granite, sandstone – we love them all.
  2. Swales – keep water on site any way you can.  California only gets seasonal rainfall so we try to make it an experience in the garden as well as sink it in to recharge the aquifer.  Infiltration basins are an easy way to create a rain garden.  Start with 2-4′ hole, add drain rock to about 4″ below existing soil level, then add some big boulders and rocks to make it pretty on top.  We like to tie in down spouts off the roof or put these at the end of a swale.  Add water loving native plants like Juncus and Equisetum.
  3. Plant masses – even in a small garden when you plant 3 or more of the same species of plant together it creates more habitat and soothes the eye creating an elegant garden even in a small space.  Some favorites:  Mass Muhlenbergia rigens (Deer Grass) with Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland’s Sage) , the tan tone of the grass with the gorgeous dark purple blooms on the sage is a year round pleasure; Mass Festuca californica (California Fescue) with Mimulus aurantiacus (Monkey Flower), the grass provides support and a bit of shelter for the orange flowering perennial.
  4. Less is more – use less species and more of each one to create a professionally composed garden.  Unless you just love plants and have a collector’s garden which we understand too!

    Swales are easy to create by bringing in soil and boulders. This one was just planted. See our Design tab for after.

Fire Safer plans and SRJC plans are all ready for your download and use.

Please use these drought tolerant and California native plant plans to rebuild your landscape hopefully better than before.  A year in the making they are wonderfully biodiverse and suitable to Sonoma County in most areas …. actually in ALL areas!  **


Planting Under Oaks

Extremes of Drought

Whole set of plans with Irrigation

Perennial Meadow

Fire Safer

Fire Safer Landscape based on Mark West and Fountaingrove Sites

** Please see our disclaimer page and call or email us for help with conversion to your specific site.  WE give FREE consultations on site to help with the rebuild.




The Habitat Corridor Project Crew!

Fire Safe Landscapes with California Native Plants

Our community has been hit hard by the Sonoma County Fires and we at the Habitat Corridor Project are devastated to see such loss in our community.  We are working hard to produce some open source plans and information to help create safe landscapes.  California native plants are vital in this rebuilding effort.  Stay tuned for typical residential, large scale residential, and industrial landscapes that are fire resistant and biodiversity rich.

There is hope, we will rebuild – but let’s do it right.


With Love,


April Owens

Executive Director

The Perennial Meadow at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts


It is finally in!  After a long wait for our sheet mulching to work we’ve finally added phase one and phase two plantings.  Just need to give these little plants some time and let them grow over a hopefully wet winter.  There will be additional plantings as we go along and plants become available.


Plants along strip in front of building:

Arctostaphylos ‘Sunset’ (Manzanita)

Baccharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’ (Dwarf Coyote Bush)

Calamagrostis foliosa (Feather Reed Grass)

Ceanothus ‘Joyce Coulter’ (California Lilac)

Zauschneria ‘Wayne’s Silver’ (California Fuchsia)

Plants in the Meadow:

Atriplex lentiformis (Salt Bush)

Festuca california (California Fescue)

Juncus patens (Blue Rush)

Monardella villosa ‘Russian River’ (Coyote Mint)

Salvia ‘Winnifred Gillman’

Salvia darcyii (Red Sage)

Sporabolus airoides (Alkali Sacation)

Zauschneria sp. Many Varieties (California Fuchsia)


Hedgerow Shrubs:

Ceanothus ‘Julia Phelps’ (California Lilac)

Myrica californica (Cal. Wax Myrtle)

Rhamnus ‘Mound San Bruno’ (Coffeeberry)




The Perennial Meadow at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts

Fall is the perfect time for planting most California natives.  This week we put in the second phase planting at our largest demonstration garden to date.  A beautiful perennial meadow of that will be a buzzing lively habitat garden in a few months.  Even as I was watering the plants in a few lovely butterflies and bees showed up to see what was new.

The plants are beautiful and come from California Flora Nursery in Fulton, California.


Sporobolis airoides – Alkaki Sacation Grass 2-3′ wide big wonderful seed heads

Festuca californica – California Fescue 2-3′ Wide beautiful perennial meadow grass

Monardella villosa – Coyote Mint  tucked between the grasses this is a super habitat plant



Rhamnus californica ‘Mound San Bruno’  – our favorite cultivar of Coffeeberry with beautiful dark green leaves and a tidy form growing to about 4′ tall and wide

Myrica californica – Wax Myrtle  a great light green large shrub to about 9′

Ceanothus ‘Blue Jeans’ – California Lilac  the name says it all for this sometimes short lived but fast growing and very floriferous evergreen shrub


Enjoy Sebastopol!  Your gift from us at the Habitat Corridor Project.

Hats for Habitat

We are awaiting our first run of great trucker hats!  They will be here by the end of October.  Email [email protected] to reserve yours!  $35.00  custom made by Headsweats – perfect for workouts, gardening, hiking or anything in between.  WE created these hats to help raise awareness about California native plants.  Our first hat is the iconic California native poppy.  Stay tuned for 3 more custom designs – they are all wonderful!