Home Ground Habitats


Garden Features




Drought Tolerant


Edible Garden


California Natives


Deer Resistant


Drip Irrigation


Pesticide Free


Rain Garden


Sheet Mulching


Wildlife Habitat

Partner: North Marin Water District

Home Ground Habitats is a center for environmental education and plant propagation that nurtures sustainable and ethical land stewardship.

Home Ground Habitats is located in the ‘horse country’ area of Marin; large old ranchettes, open spaces, and networks of horseback and hiking trails all close by. On our nearly one acre we have gardens that are vibrantly alive and beautiful. Butterflies, bees, and birds abound, bringing the natural world to a landscape that also provides sustenance for humans.

The demonstration gardens at Home Ground showcase a sustainable, organic approach to creating a truly California friendly landscape using native plants, other drought-tolerant Mediterranean species to increase the bio-diversity. Winding gravel pathways lead to hedgerows, wildflower meadows, a small fruit orchard, a vegetable garden, edible and medicinal California natives, pollinator plants, a ‘Monarch Way Station, and numerous larval host plants for other common garden butterflies. The whole property is a ‘pesticide free zone’.

About The Garden:

Our habitat pond is designed with a bog to filter and cleanse the water: all the drainage on the property leads water to this bog thru swales and French drains. Small waterfalls bring in the birds, and a beach assures the safety of creatures entering the pond. The pond is our attempt at ‘reconciliation ecology’; creating a habitat as close to a natural pond as we can make it.All the stonework is dry-stacked to create hiding places for insects, amphibians, and reptiles. Pathways are all permeable, and we have also installed a large rain-catchment tank. One area is devoted to a large composting system.

Sheet mulching helped prepare the soils for the hedgerows and various ‘bermed gardens’ to showcase collections of California native plants: manzanitas, salvias, and desert plants. Shady borders, seepy areas, and hot sunny spots are planted with plants that thrive in these conditions. A variety of irrigation systems help create the perfect conditions for plants in thriving, healthy habitats.

A major feature at Home Ground Habitats is an extensive volunteer-powered nursery. Our gardens provide us with the ‘mother plants’ from which we propagate thousands of plants each year; collecting seeds, taking cuttings and making divisions. We sell or donate these plants to support school and community garden projects, and other small non-profit organizations.

All our plants are grown organically; we have a greenhouse, shade houses, and multiple grow areas; all using best management practices to assure healthy plants to help establish many more habitat gardens throughout the Bay Area!

Day of the Tour:

Home Ground Habitats will be having a plant and seed sale for garden tour guests. They will also be having live demos around the gardens for those interested. Make sure to check out this amazing project, and work of art in the heart of horse country in Novato!

Special Events
Plant and Seed Sale
Hands on Demos

Plants in this Garden

Salvia spp


Salvias are a huge group of more than 900 species that include annuals, perennials, and shrubs adapted to a variety of climates and have varying water requirements. Salvias are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, and are generally ignored by deer. Sages that are native to California are generally drought-tolerant, prefer full sun, and little to no fertilizer. Annual pruning in late summer or fall generally helps to keep plants tidy and healthy.

CA native sages:

  • S. apiana, white sage (3-4’ x 4-6’), silvery-white, aromatic leaves with tall flower spikes of white flowers, popular for honey production and in bundles as a natural incense.
  • ‘Bee’s Bliss’ (1-2’ x 6-8’), superb, light gray groundcover with light purple flowers on long spikes; damp conditions can cause mildew which will clear with warm weather and sunny conditions.
  • S. clevelandii, Cleveland sage (3-5’ x 3-5’), medium-sized shrub for hot, dry locations known for pleasant fragrance and deep blue whorls of flowers; popular cultivars include S. c. ‘Allen Chickering’, S. c. ‘Pozo Blue’, and S. c. ‘Winnifred Gilman’.
  • S. leucophylla, purple sage, includes plants with both an upright growth habit, such as S. l. ‘Amethyst Bluff’ (3-5’ x 3-5’) and others with a sprawling form, such as S. l. ‘Point Sal’ (2-3’ x 6’), both of which are from Santa Barbara county.
  • S. sonomaensis, Sonoma sage (1-2’ x 3-4’), groundcover that prefers light shade and will not tolerate damp conditions; cultivars include S. s. ‘Dara’s Choice’, S. s. ‘Greenberg Gray’, and S. s. ‘Hobbit Toes’.
  • S. spathacaea, hummingbird sage (1-2’ spreading), herbaceous groundcover that grows well in dry shade and spreads slowly by underground rhizomes; large leaves have a wonderful fruity fragrance; the only red-flowered native sage.
  • S. mellifera, black sage (6′ x 10′), evergreen shrub that grows well in full sun and well drained soils. Dark green leaves with pale purple flowers in late spring and early summer.

Non-native sages:

  • S. chamaedryoides, germander sage (2-3’)
  • S. chiapensis, Chiapas sage (1-2’ x 3-4’)
  • S. greggii, autumn sage (1-4’ x 1-4’)
  • S. leucantha, Mexican bush sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
  • S. microphylla, cherry sage (3-4’ x 3-6’)
  • S. officinalis, garden sage (1-3’ x 1-3’)
  • Water: Very LowLowModerate
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: GrayGreen
  • Flower Color: LavenderPinkPurpleYellowWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummerFall

Ceanothus spp & cvs

Ceanothus, California lilac, 'Ray Hartman'

Ceanothus is a group of fast-growing, evergreen shrubs that vary from groundcovers to small trees, many of which are native to California. They provide a spectacular display of flowers in spring that will attract a multitude of pollinators. Flowers are followed by seeds that provide food for birds. The clusters of tiny flowers range from white to deep violet. Plants perform best with good drainage and minimal irrigation once established. Some do best in cooler coastal climates, but many thrive in hotter inland climates. Pay close attention to the mature size when selecting ceanothus to ensure that it has sufficient space for its natural form.

Groundcovers: C. ‘Centennial’ (1’ x 8’), C. gloriosus var. gloriosus ‘Anchor Bay’ (2’ x 8’), C. griseus var. horizontalis ‘Diamond Heights’ (variegated, 1’ x 4’), C. griseus var. horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’ (3’ x 12’), C. maritimus (2’ x 6’).

Shrubs: C. ‘Blue Jeans’ (6’ x 6’), C. Concha (6’ x 6’), C. ‘Dark Star’ (6’ x 8’), C. ‘Joyce Coulter’ (4’ x 12’), C. ‘Julia Phelps’ (8’ x 10’), C. cuneatus (8’ x 8’), C. thyrsiflorus ‘Skylark’ (4’ x 6’).

Large shrubs: C. ‘Frosty Blue’ (10’ x 12’), C. thyrsiflorus (20’ x 20’), C. t. ‘Snow Flurry’ (white flower, 20’ x 20’).

Trees: C. ‘Ray Hartman’ (15′ x 15′)

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: GreenGreen - Dark
  • Flower Color: BlueWhite
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Lupinus spp


Popular group of annuals, perennials, and shrubs with distinctive divided leaves that are common throughout the western United States, including California. Pea-like flowers are displayed on spikes and are attractive to bees and other pollinators. Most native lupines are purple-flowered, while some are yellow. Provide full sun and good drainage and watch out for slugs and snails.

Examples: Silver bush lupine (L. albifrons, 3-4’ x 3-4’), prostate lupine (L. albifrons var. collinus, 12-18” x 12-18”), coastal bush lupine (L. arboreus) available with either blue or yellow flowers but can be invasive in some north coastal dunes, and blue-and-white lupine (L. bicolor) a low-growing, annual wildflower.

  • Water: Very Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Well Drained
  • Foliage: Evergreen
  • Leaf Color: GreenSilver
  • Flower Color: BlueVioletYellow
  • Blooming Season (s): SpringSummer

Favorite Plants


Salvia apiana - White Sage


Ceanothus 'Antonette'


Lupinus albifrons var. collinsus - Silver Bush Lupine


Heuchra 'Opal'


All the CA native wildflowers - Clarkias, Tidy tips, Globe and Birds's Eye Gilias - Phacelias

Favorite Garden Suppliers

Emerisa Gardens

555 Irwin Lane Santa Rosa

California Flora Nursery

2990 Somers Street Fulton

Cottage Gardens

3995 Emerald Drive Petaluma

Recommended Resources