Monte Sereno Pervious Paver Driveway and Bird Garden






This hot, sunny south-facing garden is shown here in December 2006, just a few months after planting, demonstrating that native plantings can have an impact very shortly after installation. The scope of the project was to a full front and back yard landscape remodel, focusing particularly on bird habitat plantings.

The rear yard (not yet pictured) includes in garden that utilizes the practice of succession. I designed a new scheme of ceanothus, elderberry, toyon, madrone, and ribes to be planted behind an existing thicket of cotoneaster, plum, and ivy. In about three years when the young plantings mature and replace the non-native, invasive bird habitat, we will remove these non-native plants and fill in with native berberis, hollyleaf cherry, and coffeberry.

BEFORE: The front yard contained a dry barren landscape of dead lawn and compacted soil.
AFTER: The new design incorporates a meandering pervious pavingstone driveway and front walk with new planting spaces.

The parking area closest to the front door faces a hot, south facing wall. I designed a trellis for this wall that would tie in with the wood color of the door and allow for a shrub to be trained up in front of this hot wall. A curved arc in the pavingstones creates a graceful planter under the trellis. The rest of the driveway perimeter is also composed of smooth flowing curves.

The side yard of the home features a simple gravel surface with meandering 'Arizona' flagstone stepstones. This surface is also pervious and allows rainwater to percolate naturally into the soil. The slope is pitched away from the house to avoid puddling.

Here are the plantings as they are growing in, shown in April 2007. The pervious pavingstone driveway product used on this driveway is a 'Uni Eco Stone' paver. Gaps between the pavingstones are filled with fine gravel that allows water to percolate into the soil. There are several benefits to a pervious driveway: First, runoff is minimized. This keeps water from sheeting off the driveway to the hillside below. Peak storm flow demand on the local stormwater system is also minimized, assisting in preventing overflows. Additionally, toxins from car residues and the rainwater are filtered naturally in the gravel and base rock of pervious paving systems.

The hillside below the driveway was also re-planted in December 2006. This area was overrun with Vinca major. We had the vinca hand-removed. Two large deteriorating elms were also removed as they were deemed a hazard by the arborist. The new planting scheme includes three new black oak trees and Sambucus mexicana - Blue Elderberry, a quick growing screen tree which provides excellent bird habitat. Shown in the foreground is an erosion control fiber roll, which will biodegrade over time as the erosion control plantings take root.

Here is the hillside in April 2007. Plantings of Baccharis groundcover are filling in rapidly, as are Ceanothus 'Julia Phelps', Salvia 'Bees Bliss, and Eriogonum fasciculatum.

Here is the hillside in March 2008. The baccharis groundcover has filled in completely after 16 months. Ceanothus are in bloom.

Front yard in March 2008, showing the Deer Grass in full glory with grey groundcover 'Bees Bliss' sage behind. Both provide a striking contrast to the dark red house and brown trim.

Alongside the driveway, white Ceanothus 'Snow Flurry compliments the groundcover Baccharis. Purple Verbena lilacina 'De La Mina' provides a showy foreground.

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