Learning from the Master Gardeners


Novato | Redesigning a Landscape

10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Garden features:

  • California Native Plants.
  • Permeable Surfaces.
  • Rain Garden.

First time Eco-Friendly Garden Tour host Peggy introduces her garden:

I moved to this location in January 2018. The long-neglected front and back yards gave me the perfect opportunity to put my recent UC Master Gardener training to use. First, flattening my moving boxes as I unpacked, I sheet-mulched a large weedy area in the backyard for my vegetable beds, and I planted bare-root fruit trees. A few months later, inspired by the North Marin Water District’s “Cash for Grass” program, I started to convert the straggly front lawn, too, installing mostly California native plants.

I’m greeted now by yellow and red mimulus, purple salvias, blue penstemons, pink ribes sanguineum, and the fuschia-flowered perennial, calandrinia. All of it is hand watered, though I may install drip irrigation later. The native plants don’t want a lot of water once established, and the thick wood-chip mulch from a neighbor’s tree pruning keeps them humidified even on hot and windy Novato afternoons.

My backyard now has three raised beds for vegetables, five young fruit trees, and a much-loved old bottlebrush tree that attracts hummingbirds and other wildlife. To deal with the high water table that exists behind my house, I planted a native dogwood tree and willows along the fence, as well as a few other water-lovers, like blueberries. I almost never need to water these.

I also created two large earth-mounds for the drought tolerant plants like the olive trees that were a gift from a dear friend. The new mounds support native grasses, ceanothus, coffeeberry, salvias, and lemonade bush. I seeded California wildflowers in the fall and they now punctuate the native ground cover (Phyla nodiflora) with wild color. I don’t water this ground cover at all; it was already established here and it thrives. The bees love its tiny purple flowers and I love its vibrant summer green. I do keep it weeded, especially in the early spring.

My new young garden provides habitat, water, and shelter for a variety of pollinators like bees, butterflies, and other insects, along with lizards and tree frogs. The well-established trees here and in the neighborhood provide important habitat too. With all the chirping and cooing that goes on, my yard sounds like a well-fed aviary in the evening. Someday maybe I’ll have time to figure out exactly who else lives here besides me. For now, I’m content to sit outside on a warm evening and listen. And think of what to do next!

A printable plant list is available to download for this garden that lists the majority of the native plants as well as some non-natives and a few of the roses.

Water Smart Plant Cards

The Sonoma-Marin Saving Water Partnership is pleased to announce the newly updated Water Smart Plant Cards are now available. The new pack of cards features locally appropriate plants that require less water while also promoting local wildlife in your garden.

Pick up your FREE pack of plant cards at the Laguna Environmental Center on the day of the tour or stop by one of our pick-up locations:

  • Town of Windsor: Utility Billing Office Building #300, 9291 Old Redwood Hwy, Windsor
  • Sonoma County Water Agency: 404 Aviation Blvd, Santa Rosa
  • City of Santa Rosa: City Hall Annex, 90 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa
  • City of Petaluma: Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, 3890 Cypress Dr, Petaluma
  • North Marin Water District: 999 Rush Creek Pl, Novato
  • Marin Municipal Water District: 220 Nellen Ave, Corte Madera