Garden Inspiration

Photo credit: Miridae Landscapes.

California native plants are suited for every space and style.

Ready to bring native plants home, wherever that might be? The following designs show a range of garden solutions for different styles and circumstances. Discover ideas that speak to your garden and vision. We’ve included specific plant quantities and helpful tips with each gorgeous design.

A. Shady Refuge

Planting in shade is all about choosing plants that are suited to low-light conditions.

Tips & Tricks

  • Hummingbird Sage thrives in dry shade.
  • Masses of Currant bring early spring color to the understory.
  • Plants like California Fescue and Coyote Mint can take part-shade as well as full sun.

What You’ll Need

1 Valley Oak
3-4 Red Flowering Currant
10-20 California Fescue
15-25 Common Yarrow
15-25 Douglas Iris
15-25 Hummingbird Sage
15-25 Coyote Mint

B. Sunny Pollinator Patch

Areas with full sun are perfect for drought-adapted native flowering plants, which also serve as important sources of food and shelter for pollinators and birds.

Tips & Tricks

  • Include a dense shrub like Toyon, which provides cover and berries for birds.
  • Up the quantity of flowers by sowing annuals like Clarkia and Phacelia. You can also start the seeds in pots and then transplant for more control.
  • Consider including a bird bath to provide birds and other wildlife with water as well as food.
  • Plant species that flower at different times of the year to provide a longer foraging period for pollinators.

What You’ll Need

Purple Clarkia (seed)
1 White Sage
1 Toyon
3 Deergrass
10-20 Desertbells
15-25 Blue Grama
20-30 California Fescue
30-60 Common Yarrow

C. Privacy Hedgerow

Native shrubs such as the dense, evergreen Toyon, can be a more beautiful and  ecologically beneficial alternative to conventional fencing.

What You’ll Need

3 Toyon
4 Deergrass
6-10 California Fescue

D. Pots + Planters

You can create a native plant oasis on your patio or balcony by using pots and planters!

What You’ll Need

1 White Sage
1-3 Purple Clarkia
1-3 California Fescue
1-3 Common Yarrow
1-3 Douglas Iris
1-3 Coyote Mint

E. Linear Strip + Swale

No space is too small or narrow to add at least a few native plants. For tough spots like curbsides and medians, try resilient grasses mixed with annually seeded flowers.

What You’ll Need

Purple Clarkia (seed)
4-6 Blue Grama
4-6 California Fescue

For drainage depressions or low spots in your garden, look for species like Douglas Iris or Yarrow that don’t mind excess moisture from time to time.

What You’ll Need

Purple Clarkia (seed)
8-12 Douglas Iris

F. Welcoming Entry

For a wilder and more natural look, work with curves instead of lines. Layer and weave drifts of species together.

Tips & Tricks

  • Experiment with sowing different kinds of annuals every year.
  • Let the plants spread where they want to spread.
  • Don’t be afraid of change! Let the garden evolve organically.

What You’ll Need

Purple Clarkia (seed)
8-12 Douglas Iris

For a more contemporary look, stick with straight lines and interrupt single-species planting areas with a specimen Manzanita or Deer Grass. For a more minimalist look, cut back on the total number of plants.

Tips & Tricks

  • Design primarily with grasses, which have a more modern look and require less maintenance than plants with blooms.
  • Use plants that spread through rhizomes, like yarrow, which will fill in gaps over time.
  • Invest in one or two larger statement plants like manzanita to serve as a visual anchor.

What You’ll Need

Common Manzanita
1 White Sage
3 Deergrass
10-15 California Fescue
10-20 Coyote Mint
20-35 Blue Grama
20-60 Common Yarrow

Native plants in every shape and size

From gorgeous groundcovers to stately shrubs, lush hedges to majestic trees, there is a native plant that will meet every garden need. The illustration below provides a sense of scale for a selection of plants from Bloom California’s 11 native plant groups.

Know before you grow

  • Scope: Define the area for your planting project. Will it be a few pots? A narrow strip next to the sidewalk? An entire yard?
  • Light conditions: Observe sun and shade on your site throughout the day. Keep in mind, the sun is at its highest angle during summer and lowest during winter, so exposure will vary across seasons.
  • Wet spots: Identify low points (if any) where water might accumulate.
  • Zones: Based on your observations, divide your site into smaller zones of like conditions.
  • Cost: What is your budget for the project? Adjustments to plant sizes/plant quantities or a phased approach to the design can help keep costs manageable.
  • Involvement: How much time and energy are you willing to spend taking care of your plants? Some plants don’t need as much attention as others, but all plants require some basic maintenance!

Design tips

  • Rather than buying one of everything, plant fewer species in higher quantities for a more modern and calming effect.
  • Plant in drifts and swaths of like plants, rather than a sprinkling of different plant species, for a simple but powerful visual effect.
  • Try to plant in groups of odd numbers.
  • Give plants room to grow into their mature dimensions! Always note the mature sizes on the container labels and space plants accordingly.
  • Give structure to your yard with evergreen shrubs that will remain green year-round and that will act as a backdrop to more colorful perennials and annuals.
  • Select a larger species, such as a Manzanita or Oak, as a single specimen for the landscape. Give it space so that it can grow to its full, mature form.
  • If a particular view is important, imagine planting in layers of increasing height from front to back.