When you need to ditch the lawn due to low-water conditions, opt for native plantings
It looks vibrant, with flowering and fruiting plants, shade trees, and grasses that shimmer like spun gold in sunlight. But this garden, fronting a custom prefab home near downtown Santa Barbara, actually thrives on very little water. “It needed to be super-green to match the house,” explains landscape designer Margie Grace, “with a naturalistic feel and the strong sense of place. It needed light and movement.”
Before the new landscape went in, piles of sandstone boulders—all unearthed during site preparation for the home—populated the lot. Grace incorporated the boulders into the garden, using them to form gentle mounds and swales that help prevent storm-water runoff, and to build walls. Then she chose mounding shrubs and soft grasses, which are watered by a seasonally adjusted drip-irrigation system. Paths are permeable.