California Natives in a Home Garden


Petaluma | Honeybees and More

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden Features:

  • California Native Plants.
  • Raised Beds for Bee Friendly Flowers and Vegetables.
  • Rain Catchment System.

Veteran Eco-Friendly Garden Tour host John introduces his garden:

Both front and back gardens were converted from lawns a few years ago through the City of Petaluma Mulch Madness Program. The front is mostly native plants and I have 6 raised beds in the back for a flower and food garden. The garden also has several fruit trees including peach, pluot, and lemon along with several shade and privacy trees. A community area across the street was also planted with native trees, shrubs, and ground cover species after the pine trees died from drought, beetles, and disease. Most of the 40+ species of natives in these gardens came from the Casa Grande High School Native Plant Nursery, which I managed for 10 years. Flowering plants are chosen for being bee and bird friendly. I also added a 500 gallon rain catchment system last year and produced an instructional YouTube video on how it was built. Another recent addition is a personal Ambient weather station that loads into Weather Underground. These gardens attract many native insects and birds, and unfortunately, local house cats. No insecticides have been used for over 10 years and over 95% of weeds are hand pulled. Water is conserved with a variety of drip systems. Labor to maintain the gardens has been minimized. Pruning shears is now my most used garden tool.

John’s Top 10 Plants!

  1. California Aster (Aster chilensis)
  2. California Tea (Rupertia physodes)
  3. California Wild Rose (Rosa californica)
  4. Common Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
  5. Giant Gum Plant (Grindelia camporum)
  6. Purple Needle Grass (Nassella pulchra)
  7. Saltgrass (Distichlis spicata)
  8. Silktassel (Garrya elliptica)
  9. Spicebush (Calycanthus occidentalis) – shade
  10. Twinberry (Lonicera involucrata)

A plant list for this garden can be downloaded.

Russian River Friendly Landscaping Principles and Practices

Create and Protect Wildlife Habitat

Plant and animal diversity is one of the many factors that makes the Russian River Watershed unique and beautiful. More than 1,400 native plant species bloom throughout the year, supporting hundreds of native pollinators, beneficial insects and other organisms that can reduce the need for pesticides. Birds and butterflies are attracted, bringing with them beauty, song and interest to a landscape.

Biodiversity is crucial to the health and resiliency of the local landscape, the Russian River ecosystem and its inhabitants. Yet the loss of habitat is threatening local biodiversity. The population of the Russian River Watershed is growing and expected to continue to do so. With increased populations comes development, which must be done with regard for wildlife habitat.

Russian River FLG LogoAnd although we tend to rely on parks and open space for preserving wildlife habitat, both residential and commercial landscapes can also play an important role. Developed landscapes can provide food, water, shelter and nesting sites for birds, butterflies, beneficial insects and other creatures, thus helping to conserve valuable wildlife resources and restore damaged ecosystems. Small spaces or corridors, patched together over the entire Russian River Watershed, add up to a great opportunity for encouraging and protecting wildlife.

  1. Diversify
  2. Choose California natives first
  3. Provide water and shelter
  4. Use organic pest management
  5. Conserve or restore natural areas and wildlife corridors


Sustainable Education Garden


Santa Rosa | Public Demonstration Garden

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden features:

  • Drought tolerant, low water-use plants.
  • Russian River-Friendly Landscaping Best Practices.
  • Bioswales and bioretention to capture and naturally clean storm water runoff onsite.
  • Rainwater harvesting.
  • Community gathering area with an outdoor classroom.
  • Informational displays and interpretive signage.

We are excited to include the new Sustainable Education Garden at Santa Rosa City Hall on this years Eco-Friendly Garden Tour. The City Hall lawn and landscape has been transformed into a beautiful and functional demonstration garden and community gathering area. The garden was designed using holistic water-use efficiency and storm water best management practices.

A printable plant list is available to download for this garden.

Events at the Sustainable Education Garden

  • Residential Irrigation Controller Programming Workshops 10 a.m. & 12 p.m
  • Guided tour following each workshop
  • RSVP at

Join us on the day of the tour for two workshops hosted by the City of Santa Rosa Water-Use Efficiency Division.

Do you have an irrigation system at your home? Programming the irrigation controller to match your landscape water needs will save water, money and improve the health of your plants!

Come join us for a free hands-on workshop where you will learn the basic steps to program a controller, and how to use the various features. Participants will also learn about additional tools and resources including weather-based controller technology and weekly WaterSmart Yard recommendations that make seasonal controller programming easy and effective. Enjoy a guided tour of the new sustainable education garden immediately following the workshop.

Visit the City of Santa Rosa’s Sustainable Education Garden website to RSVP.

The City of Santa Rosa offers many opportunities for residents to save water and money, including:

  • WaterSmart Yard watering recommendations
  • WaterSmart check-up
  • Cash for grass rebate
  • Clothes washer rebate
  • Rainwater harvesting rebate
  • Graywater rebate
  • Recirculating hot water pump rebate

Visit the City of Santa Rosa Water WaterSmart Center to learn more.