Shade & Water Native Garden


Sebastopol | 10,000 sq. ft. Front & Back Gardens

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden owner Penny describes her garden

When I moved onto this 2/3rd acre property 35 years ago it was covered in black plastic with volcano rocks. After 20 years of adding every cheap exotic plant, I decided to change over to a California native palate. I did not do this slowly. I put old linoleum and plastic over the Bermuda grass, African daisy, vinca and took out the ivy and bamboo (all without using chemicals).

Front Garden

With the help and support of my daughter April Owens, owner of Sustainable Urban Natives, I have created a 1,500 square foot native fescue meadow surrounded by two long hedgerows of large, mature native shrubs. Within and throughout this garden are mounds of rocks and branches to encourage wildlife. I do not mulch this garden so the ground is bare in places to provide habitat for the insects, snakes, birds, and small mammals that live here.


On the west side of the property is a drainage area where the winter rains are slowed by various native grasses such as needlegrass, deergrass, wildrye, and rushes. Large shrubs and trees stabilize the soil.


The backyard is a mix of shade and sun. The water table is high at the property, so planting with water tolerant plants is the theme. There is a riparian woodland of ferns, perennials, grasses and small shrubs nestled under water tolerant native trees (California sycamores, alders, redwoods, vine maples). Surrounding the rock enclosed pool are many native grasses, perennials, and groundcovers that can work in many gardens with very little water.

In this garden you will see mature and recently planted trees, shrubs, and perennials. It is an ongoing native garden I look forward to sharing with you.

Plant List

Some of the key plants in this garden for this time of year are listed below. You can also download a printable full plant list for this garden.


  1. Manzanita (Arctostaphylos ‘Dr. Hurd’, A. ‘Vine Hill’, A. pajaroensis)
  2. Pipevine (Aristolochia californica)
  3. Saltbush (Atriplex semibaccata)
  4. Mountain Mahogany (Cercocarpus ledifolius)
  5. Sand Aster (Corethrogyne filaginifolia)
  6. Channel Island Tree Poppy (Dendromecon harfordii)
  7. California fescue (Festuca californica)
  8. Red fescue (Festuca rubra)
  9. Flowering Ash (Fraxinus dipetala)
  10. Gumplant (Grindelia hirsutula)
  11. Bolander’s golden aster (Heterotheca sessiflora ssp. bolanderi)
  12. Hairy false golden aster (Heterotheca villosa ‘San Bruno Mt’)
  13. California Grey Rush (Juncus patens)
  14. California Celery (Lomatium californicia)
  15. Deer Grass (Muhlenbergia rigens)
  16. Desert Ironwood (Olneya tesota)
  17. Common Lippie (Phyla nodiflora)
  18. Pine Bluegrass (Poa secunda)
  19. Potentilla (Potentilla glandulosa)
  20. Sugarbush (Rhus ovata)
  21. Matilija Poppy (Romneya coulteri)
  22. Pine Rose (Rosa pintorum)
  23. Alkali Sacaton (Sporobolus airoides)
  24. Nodding Needlegrass (Stipa cernua)
  25. Foothill Needlegrass (Stipa lepida)

Russian River Friendly Landscaping Principles and Practices

Landscape Locally

Russian River Friendly landscaping recognizes that our landscapes, whether they are commercial, institutional, residential or open space, are part of the larger ecosystem of the Russian River Watershed. It does not mean that the landscape must be wild and uncontrolled, but rather on the whole, it respects the natural attributes of our region and contributes to the health, diversity and sustainability of the Russian River ecosystem.

In return, many of the natural processes of a well functioning ecosystem, like nutrient cycling, can then benefit the landscape you design, construct or maintain. In addition, your clients are re-connected to nature through their landscapes.

  1. Select and evaluate the site carefully
  2. Assess the soil and test drainage
  3. Survey and protect flora & fauna
  4. Consider the potential for fire
  5. Use local, natural plant communities as models