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Ribes sanguineum glutinosum

Pink Flowering Currant
Ribes sanguineum glutinosum

Eriogonum grande var. rubescens

Rosy Buckwheat
Eriogonum grande var. rubescens

Salvia clevelandii

Cleveland Sage
Salvia clevelandii

Penstemon heterophyllus Margarita Bop

Blue Bedder Penstemon
Penstemon heterophyllus 'Margarita Bop'

Monardella Villosa franciscana

Common Coyote Mint
Monardella Villosa franciscana

Ceanothus Centennial

Wild Lilac
Ceanothus 'Centennial'

About the Concept Design Series

These designs are simple concepts to provide inspiration and ideas. Check with local nurseries, landscapers or other sustainable garden designers to help choose the best plants for your yard.

Plant List

Why We Liked This Garden

Showcase Features:

This front yard garden artistically integrates ornamental and edible landscaping, combining the beauty of California native and non-native plants with the functionality of food production. Vegetable gardens do not have to be relegated to a far corner of the back yard, but can become a focal point in the landscape. The raised vegetable beds in the center of this yard provide a tidy area for annual food crops such as tomatoes and salad greens, while perennial food plants are integrated into the rest of the garden. Espaliered apple and pear trees take on the role of a living fence in the front of the yard, creating a sense of privacy while providing fruit at the same time. Dry stacked flagstone pieces form a low, tapering wall that frames the vegetable beds and creates a change of elevation in an otherwise flat landscape. The flagstone pathway compliments the materials in the dry stacked walls, while the vegetable beds are surrounded by easy to maintain compacted California Gold Fines. With the exception of the vegetable beds, this garden meets the requirements of the Santa Clara Valley Water District's Landscape Rebate Program.


A variety of flowering California native perennials, such as the Terra Cotta Yarrow (ATC) and Common Coyote Mint (MO), not only provide seasonal color, but a source of nectar and habitat for beneficial insects essential to pollinating the vegetable plants. Other perennial natives, such as the Pink Flowering Currants (RS) and Blue Elderberry (SM), have fruit that can be harvested. The native Yerba Buena (SD) along the entryway acts as a ground cover, but can also be used for tea.

The non-native Pomegranate bush to the left of the pathway is low water using and fruits well in our Mediterranean climate.


The vegetable garden area and much of the planting needs full sun, as in south facing garden. The plants against the house require shadier conditions, such as a north facing wall or under an overhang.

Watering Needs:

All of the perennial plants in this garden have low to very low watering needs. The fruit trees should be irrigated using bubblers and deep watering tubes. Irrigate the vegetable beds and fruit trees on separate valves as they will require different amounts of water.

Sustainable Gardening Resource List

For general installation, understanding of sustainable gardens, and other details, read the factsheets in the Green Gardens Healthy Creeks series.

Construction Notes for Sustainable Landscaping

  • The espalier fruit tree "fence" is formed by running three rows of galvanized wire between 4' tall evenly spaced 4 x 4 posts set into concrete footings. Position the wires to the levels of the horizontal branches of the espaliered fruit trees to provide support and to aid in maintaining to shape of the trees.
  • For the patio area surrounding the planter boxes, 1 1/2" to 2" of California Gold Fines (also known as decomposed granite) are set on top of 2" - 3" of compacted base rock.
  • Thoroughly compact the moistened Gold Fines with a vibrator plate or hand tamper to achieve a hard surface area that will take heavy foot traffic.
  • To avoid cracking, be sure to use 1 3/4" to 2" thick pieces of flagstone for the pathway.
  • Set the leveled flagstone pieces onto decomposed granite to allow water to percolate into the soil.
  • Leftover, broken pieces of flagstone can be used to create the stacked wall.
  • Other materials, such as head-size Sonoma Fieldstone boulders or recycled concrete pieces can also be used to create a low retaining wall for a different look.
  • For vegetable beds that are easier on the back, build them up to 18" tall.
  • For a variety of looks, the vegetable beds can be constructed using various materials such as redwood, composite wood, Urbanite, or stacked flagstone.