John and Fran Alcorn’s garden – #39


Lot size: 400 sq. ft. front, 525 sq. ft. back, 550 sq. ft. side gardens, 80% native

Garden Age: Garden was installed in 2006

Years on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: 2

Showcase Feature

Inspired by the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour, John and Fran asked Kat Weiss of Kat Weiss Landscape Design to make some changes to their garden, which was largely lawn. John, who grew up in national parks, wanted to attract wildlife; Fran desired a more manicured look.  The result is not only inviting, but it is perfect for hot, dry, inland areas.  The lawn has been reduced in size. It has also been embraced by wide, curving garden beds planted with low-maintenance, drought-tolerant natives selected from the chaparral plant community.  The garden has received “tons of compliments from the neighbors.”

Other Garden Attractions


  • A peaceful meditation garden created under a grove of redwoods was planted with shade-loving plants such as ferns, coral bells, native grape, and mock orange.
  • Weeds are hand-pulled; plant damage from insects is tolerated.
  • In order to minimize runoff, a low, meandering moss rock retaining wall was built under the row of redwoods in the side yard, and a shallow depression, or swale, created at its base.
  • Don’t miss the “before” photos!

Gardening for Wildlife


Berry-bearing plants, including native grapes, snowberry, elderberry, and currants attract birds. A variety of sages and California lilac attract native bees.  Butterflies adore the rosy buckwheat.  A toad and lizards are occasionally seen in the back garden. A water-splashed boulder provides water for wildlife.

Please note; you’ll be entering a gated community; just tell the person at the entrance that you are on the garden tour, and be prepared to sign in at the garden.

Plant list

More photos: