Seasonal fog and a thirsty lawn kept this beach cottage in Santa Monica feeling damp and dreary. Garden designer Susanne Jett of Jettscapes Landscape brought in the cheer by laying down a crisp layer of decomposed granite and planting a showy—yet low-water—border that birds love as much as the homeowner does.

Inspiration“The ’30s cottage reminded me of bungalows that I had seen on the Australian coast,” says Jett. She combined California natives with plants from Australia, which has a similar climate.


VisitorsThe homeowner chose California natives such as Ribes and toyon specifically toprovide berries for birds. “She has a blackboard attached to the house where she keeps track of all the birds, when they come, and what plants they feed on,” says Jett.


HardscapingA large swath of decomposed granite stays dry and reflects light. Jett repositioned the flagstone pavers that were already in the yard to create a new path that meanders loosely to the front door.

PlantingsColor was the driving force for Jett’s plant choices, including pink-blooming Cistus (below)orange Leucospermum, and purple-flowered Ceanothus. Shrubs provide privacy from the street, while shorter perennial plants and groundcovers make the space feel lush


Water SavingsPost-lawn, this garden uses a quarter of the water it did before.


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