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Walnut Creek Magazine

The Front Yard Is The New Back

It’s no surprise gardeners found a silver lining in all of this extra time at home by redesigning front yards into creative points of interest. Besides being an excellent way to conserve water, these inviting spaces attract birds and butterflies and create places for connecting with neighbors. All over Walnut Creek, green sprawling lawns are transforming into artistic landscapes filled with everything from drought-tolerant plants and river rocks to vegetable gardens and vibrant seating areas.

In these stay at home times, this just might be the project you need to sustain the days and weeks ahead. When you’re ready to get started, the nonprofit grassroots organization, Sustainable Contra Costa (SCOCO), offers online workshops that teach water conservation techniques and landscape alternatives. “We help homeowners transform front lawns by helping them figure out what they can afford and what they can do themselves,” says SCOCO President Tina Neuhausal. “Learning to do it yourself saves money.”

Neuhausal says California natives, as well as good drought-tolerant candidates from the Mediterranean, Mexico, and South Africa, get the vote for most likely to succeed in our inland coastal desert microclimate. Crape myrtles, roses, cactus, yucca, lambs ear, figs, succulents, and herbs like purple sage, lavender, rosemary, and thyme perform best in arid Walnut Creek.

SCOCO also recommends adding a three-inch layer of mulch spread over bare soil to enhance the health of your garden by insulating plant roots against extreme temperatures, suppressing water-stealing weeds, and improving soil texture as the mulch breaks down.


Ruth Bancroft Garden This internationally recognized drought-tolerant garden features a large nursery stocked with natives, succulents, and a variety of exotic cacti from around the world. Plants available for purchase year-round.

Orchard Nursery One of the most beautiful around–and the oldest (opened in 1946)–you can count on Orchard to have a nice selection of natives and trained staff to help you.

Oaktown Native Plant Besides stocking natives, they offer landscaping services for site analysis and an extensive plant selection.

Annie’s Annuals Specializing in rare and unusual annuals and perennials, including cottage garden heirlooms and hard to find California native wildflowers, this 2.5-acre nursery is beloved by serious gardeners.

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