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Sally Mathews’ garden

Oakland

Lot size: 2,000 sq. ft., 85% native

Garden Age: Garden was installed in the fall of 2015

Years on the Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour: New this year!

Showcase Feature
When Sally, a long-time Bringing Back the Natives Garden Tour attendee, decided it was time for the large, water-consuming lawn on this corner lot to go, she had four goals for the replacement: first, to reduce water use, next, to provide habitat for wildlife, third, to have a clean and uncluttered look, and last, to create some screening from the street. Sally’s lawn was sheet mulched in about two hours in the barn-raising style “How to remove your lawn (and get paid for it, too!” workshop, and the irrigation was laid six months later in a “How to install a drip irrigation system, lower your water bill, and get paid for it, too!)” workshop. Kelly Marshall of Kelly Marshall Garden Design designed the garden; it is maintained by Jennifer Smith, of The Greensmith Landscapes.

Other Garden Attractions mathews-sheetmulching-1-of-7
• In spring the garden is a cheerful mélange of orange monkeyflower, blue penstemon and blue-eyed grass, purple lilac verbena and Douglas iris, and sprays of pink coral bells.
• An Arizona flagstone path leads through the garden.
• Corn gluten is used to suppress weeds.
• Sally, who is a birder, loves the way her garden has transformed from an ecological “dead zone” to a place that invited birds, bees, butterflies, and her grandchildren, who now love to play in the front garden.
• The East Bay Municipal Utility District provided both sheetmulching and drip irrigation rebates for Sally’s lawn conversion.

Gardening for Wildlife mathews-sheetmulching-1-of-7-2
The manzanita attract hummingbirds, butterflies sip nectar from the buckwheats, and native bees are drawn to the California lilac.

Plant list

More photos: