Eco-Friendly Garden Tour – Jerry & Barbara’s Garden


DIY Lawn Conversion

Eco-Tour Picture 1
Eco-Tour Picture 2Eco-Tour Picture 2

In April 2014 Jerry and Barbara decided to replace their 1,100 sq. ft. lawn with a combination of California native and drought resistant plants. They were concerned about their summer water use that was yielding a monthly bill of about $350. The decision to proceed was made easier since California American Water were offering a cash for grass rebate of $1.00 per sq. ft. up to a maximum of $1,000.

Jerry and Barbara used a modified sheet mulching technique where they mowed the lawn as closely as possible and ceased irrigation for a period of about 6-weeks. 10 yards of compost from Sonoma Compost was used to cover the lawn with a 3 – 4 inch layer, effectively smothering the lawn as well as adding organic matter to the soil.

Plants were selected by Jerry and Barbara and purchased from a variety of local nurseries. Once the plants were in the ground, 10 yards of shredded redwood bark was laid as a mulch.

The project was completed in June 2014 and resulted in the couple capping 13 overhead sprinkler heads and converting two to drip irrigation. Jerry and Barbara estimate summer water savings of 80%.

Plant List

This landscape includes both moderate and low water use plants. The list below only includes plants with a low WUCOLS water use classification for the North-Central Coast.

  1. Achillea millefolium (Yarrow)
  2. Aeonium arboreum var. atropurpureum ‘Schwarzkopf’ (Black Tree Aeonium)
  3. Agastache spp. (Hyssop)
  4. Agave spp.
  5. Aloe spp.Anigozanthos manglesii  (Kangaroo Paw)
  6. Archtostaphylos spp. (Manzanita)
  7. Aristida purpurea (Purple Three-Awn)
  8. Asclepias (Milkweed)
  9. Callistemon spp. (Bottle Brush)
  10. Ceanothus spp. (California Lilac)
  11. Cistus albidus (Rock Rose)
  12. Crassula ovata (Jade Plant)
  13. Epilobium spp. (California Fuschia)
  14. Euphorbia spp.
  15. Fremontodendron spp.  (Flannel Bush)
  16. Garrya elliptica ‘James Roof’ (Coast Silk Tassel)
  17. Kniphofia spp. (Poker Plant)
  18. Lagerstroemia spp. (Crape Myrtle)
  19. Lavendula spp. (Lavender)
  20. Mimulus spp. (Monkey Flower)
  21. Phormium spp. (New Zealand Flax)
  22. Psorothamnus spinosus (Smoke Tree)
  23. Salvia apiana (White Sage), S. clevelandii (Cleveland Sage), S. leucantha (Mexican Sage Bush)
  24. Sempervivum spp. (Hens and Chicks)
  25. Senecio ‘Kilimanjaro’ (Groundsel)
  26. Teucrium hircanicum ‘Paradise Delight’ (Germander)
  27. Tulbaghia violacea (Society Garlic)
  28. Westringia ‘Wynyabbie Gem’ (Wynyabbie Coast Rosemary)

Sheet Mulching

sheetmulchingSheet mulching is a simple technique for converting lawn to a low water use garden and nurturing the soil. It is a way to remove your lawn without having to dig it out or use chemicals to kill it. Sheet mulching can:

  • Suppress weed growth
  • Reduce labor and maintenance costs since grass is composted in place
  • Improve nutrient and water retention in the soil
  • Encourage favorable soil microbial activity and increase the number of worms in the soil
  • Enhance soil structure
  • Improve plant vigor and health, often leading to improved resistance to pests and diseases

Download a sheet mulching how-to guide here.