Karen and Jeremy Amos’ garden


Lot size: 1,500 sq. ft. front garden, 98% native

Garden Age: Garden was installed in stages, beginning in 2010

Years on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: 2

Showcase Feature

Inspired by the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour, Karen and Jeremy decided to sheet-mulch away their large, thirsty lawns—much to their delight, they found when they did so their water bill was cut in half.  Kelly Marshall of Kelly Marshall Garden Design designed their new low-maintenance, water-conserving garden.  The garden was paid for, in part, by a $500 rebate from the Contra Costa Water District’s Lose the Lawn and Grow a Garden program, and installed by Karen and Jeremy.


Other Garden Attractions img_1252

  • The front garden is a terraced slope brimming with a variety of manzanitas, California lilac, lots of blue blooming native perennials to bring out the colors of the house.
  • In the back garden a small play structure sits amidst a colorful meadow of grasses and wildflowers; a wooden boardwalk is bordered by the sweetly fragrant lilac verbena, the relatively diminutive Pacific reed grass, and its robust cousin, deer grass.  Bush mallow functions as a privacy screen between the swimming pool and the neighbors. * Visit the Contra Costa Water District’s table, which will be staffed throughout the day, and ask how you can receive a rebate for removing your lawn.

Gardening for Wildlife


Carpenter bees love the sages; other native bees adore the local, slender milkweed. A family of quail live in the back garden; the Amos’ enjoy watching the chicks parade along the boardwalk, then forage for seeds under the native shrubs, protected from neighborhood cats by the family’s dog, and a thicket that provides them with shelter. The raspy call of nocturnal barn owls can be heard in the evenings. Pacific chorus frogs croak at night, advertising their interest in finding a date.

Garden Talks

11:00 “Save money, save time, and save water: How to lose your lawn, get a garden—and get paid for it, too!” by Chris Dundon, from the Contra Costa Water Conservation District

12:00 “How to maintain your native plant garden” by Karen Amos


Front garden plant List

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