Resilient Garden


Garden Features


Drought Tolerant


Edible Garden


California Natives


Deer Resistant


Pesticide Free


Rain Garden


Smart Irrigation Controller


Lawn Conversion


Lawn-Free Landscaping


Wildlife Habitat

Partner: Habitat Corridor Project

This garden is what we call a resilient landscape. It is fire-wise, low water use, and biodiverse with 100% California native plants.  The landscape was previously a swimming pool was transformed into a sustainable wonderland including a large swale, native bentgrass turf, walls made of boulders from the site, and of course habitat-friendly shrubs and perennials.  The irrigation system is composed of Hunter MP Rotators on tall risers that are timed to give the plants and soil a good soak once a month in the summer overhead which helps the garden thrive and save water.  To be fire-wise it is important to think of a landscape in terms of the distance from the house in zones.  Zone 0 (0-5′ from the home should be mainly hardscape, rock or well-hydrated plants like bentgrass native turf.  

City of Santa Rosa Water Conservation Resources:

As the dry weather persists, local reservoirs at all-time-lows, and with no significant rainfall on the horizon, it is critical that everyone continues to save water. The City has a community-wide water savings target of 20 percent. We hope that you will join with us in this commitment to conserve and use water efficiently, and that you will find the following water conservation programs, information, and links useful:

  • Rebates Available: To learn more about ways to save money and water, check out the full list of Santa Rosa’s current programs.
  • WaterSmart Center: For updates on drought conditions and how-to videos to find and fix leaks.
  • Track Your Water Usage: City of Santa Rosa provides residents with an online portal to track water usage by the hour to know how much water you are using.

Plants in this Garden

Plant Picker

Muhlenbergia spp

Muhly Grass, Deer Grass

Large, showy, clumping, warm-season grasses native to the Southern United States, Mexico, and Central and South America. Can be grown in masses but require sufficient space for the mature size and form to develop. Arching plumes of flowers on long stalks provide significant ornamental value to these low-maintenance and drought-tolerant grasses.

Examples:  Pink muhly (M. capillaris, 2-3′ x 2-3’) with feathery pink flowers; pine muhly (M. dubia, 2-3’ x 2-3’) with light purple flowers; Lindheimer muhly (M. lindheimeri, 3-5’ x 4-5’) with creamy yellow flowers that provide a pronounced display; and the California native deer grass (M. rigens, 3’ x 3-4’).

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained

Juncus patens

California Grey Rush

California gray rush is a go-to species for the summer-dry rain garden. It will thrive in moist conditions and its roots will help stabilize soil and filter stormwater runoff. It is also tolerant of extended periods of drought. Clumps of stiff, upright foliage provide an interesting contrast among other perennials. ‘Elk Blue’ is a widely available selection from Mendocino County. Its bluish gray foliage is shorter than the typical gray rush.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained

Rhamnus [Frangula] californica


Evergreen shrub that has insignificant flowers followed by black berries. Flowers are attractive to pollinators, especially bees, and berries provide a food source for birds. Cultivars commonly sold in nurseries have differing growth habits and are often smaller than the species which grows 5-18’ x 10-18’.

Examples: F. c. ‘Eve Case’ (6-8’ x 6-8’), R. c. ‘Leatherleaf’ (5-6’ x 5-6’), R. c. ‘Mound San Bruno’ (6-8’ x 6-8’) with a dense, mounding growth habit.

Note: California coffeeberry was formerly classified as Rhamnus californica and is now classified as Frangula californica.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Most Soils

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
California Lilac

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
Manzanita bush

Arctostaphylos spp & cvs

Manzanita, 'Dr. Hurd'

Manzanitas vary from carpet-forming groundcovers to small trees. Manzanitas have varying shades of striking, reddish brown bark and can provide structure to a garden. These plants have evergreen foliage, small white-to-pink, urn-shaped blossoms in late winter to early spring, and then small fruits that resemble tiny apples.

Groundcovers: A. ‘Emerald Carpet’ (1’ x 3-6’), A. ‘Pacific Mist’ (2-3’ x 6-8’), A. nummularia ‘Bear Belly’ (1’ x 3’), A. uva ursi ‘Radiant’ (6” x 4-6’), A. uva ursi ‘Wood’s Compct’ (1’ x 3’).

Shrubs: A. ‘Howard McMinn’ (5-7’ x 6-10’), A. ‘John Dourly’ (3-4’ x 5-6’), A. ‘Lester Rowntree’ (8-10’ x 10-15’), A. ‘Sunset‘ (5-7’), A. bakeri ‘Louis Edmunds’ (8-10’), A. manzanita ‘Sentinel’ (6-8’ x 5’), A. hookeri ‘Wayside’ (3′ x 8′).

Trees: A. manzanita ‘Dr. Hurd’ (10-15′)

  • Water: Very LowLow
  • Light: Full SunPartial Shade
  • Soil: Well Drained
dwarf coyote brush

Baccharis pilularis & cvs

Dwarf Coyote Bush

Flowers are inconspicuous but provide a source of pollen, nectar, and seeds for wildlife. Shrubby varieties can be cut back to maintain a more tidy and compact appearance. Perennial varieties can be divided in fall or early spring. Excellent choice as support for more showy plants in the garden.

  • Water: Low
  • Light: Full Sun
  • Soil: Most Soils

Fremontodendron californica – Flannel Bush
Diplacus aurantiacus – Monkey Flower
Romneya coulteri – Matillija Poppy
Aster ‘Pt. St. George’- Groundcover Aster
Ceanothus thrysiflorous – California Lilac
Arctostaphylos spp – Manzanita
Baccharis ‘Twin Peaks’ – Groundcover Coyote Brush
Monardella villosa ‘Russian River’ – Coyote Mint
Bentgrass Turf Delta Bluegrass Product

Favorite Plants


Salvia clevelandii (Cleveland's Sage)


Muhlenbergia rigens (Deer Grass)


Juncus patens (Blue Rush)


Frangula californica 'Mound San Bruno' (Coffeeberry)


Sphraelcea ambigua (Globe Mallow)

Favorite Garden Suppliers

California Flora Nursery

2990 Somers Street Fulton

CNPS - Milo Baker Chapter Fall Plant Sale

900 Sanford Road Santa Rosa

California Native Plant Society - Milo Baker Chapter holds an annual plant sale every fall. Amazing native plants at a great price.

Recommended Resources