Grow a natural backyard

Invite wildlife into your garden with Western plants chosen for their blooms and berries

  • Lewisia

    23 knock-out native plants

    Incorporating plants native to your climate means less water, less maintenance, and more wildlife. Here are our top picks around the West



The Bochiechios' native California plant garden attracts birds of all kinds: goldfinches, hummingbirds, quail, warblers, and dozens more that drop in to feed on grapes and nectar-rich flowers or to sip and bathe in the pond and in birdbaths placed around the backyard. (Shallow, water-filled depressions in some of the boulders serve as additional birdbaths.)

Because the native plantings, boulders, and dry creekbed that make up the two-year-old garden echo the look of the distant chaparral-covered hills, they visually extend the garden's borders. Natural fencing, made of ocotillo canes, is sloped downward in places so it doesn't block views. With their bottom tips buried in the ground, the canes put down roots and resprout, forming a "living fence."

A California native, Mary fondly recalls how she and her siblings once played in an untouched canyon near their childhood home in Encinitas. "It was a wild, magical world," she says. "We'd see rabbits, find coyote tracks, and come home with our hair tangled, smelling of sage." Thanks to Rubin's expertise, "the birds and shrubs in my own backyard let me savor the sights, sounds, and scents of my childhood."

Not only is her garden a wildlife oasis, it requires minimal irrigation and, during wet years, can get by on rainfall alone. Now recovered from her illness, Mary is able to hike again, but her garden is all the wilderness she needs.

Next: getting the natural look



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