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.
Designing for California