Coastkeeper’s SmartScape at Home

Marianne Hugo volunteered at the Coastkeeper Garden for five years and created a drought-tolerant landscape in her backyard in Orange.
Photograph by Emily J. Davis

What’s great about Coastkeeper’s SmartScape program is that when you’re first starting (to transition to a drought-tolerant landscape), you have a lot of questions. You can call up Coastkeeper and they’ll give you answers to your questions, including how to apply for a rebate or what plants are the best. Going to the Coastkeeper Garden and seeing the plants in person makes a huge difference. All the plants at the nursery are cute little plants in 1-gallon pots. So people go to a nursery and buy all these plants not realizing that in five years it’s going to grow into a 10-by-15-foot shrub. If you go to a garden that is established, you can see the plants at maturity.

When you first plant your yard, it looks really sparse because the plants come in small containers. The advantage of planting your plants small is they establish better, and they develop a better root system, but you have to give it time. It takes six months to a year to fill in. They’re slower growing, but that’s also the reason why they take less water, and you don’t have to prune them as often.”

Read More from our February 2023 H2OC Issue: