San Jose Lawn to Natives Conversion







Traditional rectangular lawn in full sun. High water consumption, uninteresting, and requires weekly maintenance.


This photo was taken just a few months after planting. The garden has been mulched with recycled wood chips, called 'Pro Chip' mulch. This mulch is locally available in bulk from landscape suppliers.

The plants in this garden will be hand watered until established. Watering ranged from once per week maximum during the warm after the plants were newly planted, to once every two weeks or so during the cooler seasons.

Wildflowers were sown the first winter to fill in the gaps between shrubs.


The plantings have filled in and spring blooms attract hummingbirds and butterfliies. The garden is entirely planted with California natives, including California Poppies, Salvia 'Bees Bliss', Salvia clevlandii, Ceanothus 'Yankee Point', Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps', and Arctostaphylos 'Howard McMinn'

In contrast to the lawn-centric design, this mature garden requires only bi-annual trimming, semi-annual weeding, and about 4 deep waterings during the warm season.

The garden path is small locally quarried greenstone with pea gravel. These pervious materials allow water to infiltrate into the soil so that it can be utilized by the plantings and tree.

This photo shows the garden's appearance in summer.


White flowering Salvia brandegii and pale purple flowering Salvia 'Bees Bliss' are two quick-growing sages that attract hummingbirds. Poppies have filled in the gaps as the shrubs matured. The poppies are trimmed at the base after flowering to encourage repeat blooming in the late summer.

Deep magenta flowering Salvia spathacea, Hummingbird Sage, with white flowering yarrow, Achillea millefoium, in the background. True to its name, the Hummingbird Sage is a marvelous plant for attracting hummingbirds. This salvia also has a wonderful fruity sage scent. The White yarrow attracts butterflies and benneficial insects. Both plants bloom in late spring.

When not in flower, the white yarrow has ferny looking foliage that provides a good small-area lawn substitute. Yarrow will benefit from watering about once every week during the summer to keep a fresh green look and can tolerate light foot traffic.

Stephanie Morris, Landscape Architect - cell (408) 206.5055 or