Elise and Mike McFarland’s garden


Lot size: 500 sq. ft front garden and 2,200 sq. ft back garden 100% natives in the front garden; 50% in the back

Garden Age: Front yard was planted in February, 2004 and updated in 2010; backyard was installed in September 2011.

Years on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: 4

Showcase feature

Elise and Mike’s garden shows just how spacious and dramatic a small front yard can become. Designed by Kat Weiss of Kat Weiss Landscape Design, the lawn and straight concrete path were replaced by a dry creek bed and native chaparral plants with colorful foliage, bark, flowers and berries. Recently, regenerative landscaper Jillian Steinberger of The Garden Artisan began seeding with native wildflowers and bulbs for vivid annual color. In the back garden, Jillian converted the lawn to a native meadow and installed a flagstone path and patio, and a “smart” irrigation controller. Elise’s husband Mike put the “fun” into functional with a horseshoes court.

Other garden attractions mcfarland-6

  • Former concrete walkway was re-used in the attractive, curving path.
  • Bermuda grass lawn was sheet-mulched and replaced with a native walkable meadow interspersed with wildflowers.
  • “Natural landscaping in my front and backyard is one of the most worthwhile things I’ve done,” says happy homeowner Elise.

Gardening for Wildlife mcfarland-4

While little in the way of wildlife visited the garden prior to its redesign, birds and bees now find a haven here. Native bees are frequently seen throughout the warmer months. This garden is a favorite of local hummingbirds, who seem convinced it belongs to them.

Garden Talks

11:00 and 12:00 “How to convert your lawn into a native garden” and 2:00 and 3:00 “How to convert your lawn into a native meadow” by Jillian Steinberger. Jillian will be at this garden all day to answer questions.

Plant list

More photos: