Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

Going native in your garden, Part 2

If you were inspired by Part 1 of "Going Native in Your Garden" let's dig a little deeper and now look at the most important phases to consider when starting a garden refurbishment.

Starting a native plant garden does not have to be complicated, but planning is the key. In Part 1, I mentioned various sites to visit for inspiration and to educate yourself of all that's possible and guide you in the direction you'd like to take your new landscape setting.

Once you start sketching the garden design and layout, you should consider adding an entrance arbor, paths to stroll, focal points to catch the eye, a dry streambed with boulders and cobbles, pots/stoneware, a spot for a bench or swing, all of which will add to the enjoyment of your new garden.

Steps to consider when starting a garden redo

· Grass/turf removal. Try sheet mulching with layers of cardboard placed on the grass to deprive it from light. Go to for more information.

· Soil amendments. Many native plants thrive in what we consider poor soil conditions. Add a little organic compost or worm casting to promote healthy soil. Avoid chemical fertilizers and other amendments.

· Mulch. It retains moisture, feeds your soil in time and insulates your plants from heat and cold. Keep mulch away from tree trunks.

· Hardscape. Use permeable surfaces wherever possible to allow the water – be it rainfall or an irrigated landscape to penetrate. Use natural looking stepping stones, gravel, decomposed granite for your access pathways.

· Irrigation. This is one of the most critical components in establishing a native garden. You might be able to redo an existing irrigation system, but keeping an old system might not be the best way to go. I prefer starting new so I know what I'm working with.

· Planting. The best time to put new plants in the ground is autumn when the weather cools down, the soil temperature is lower and with the potential of rainfall. Summer is the most challenging season to install native plants. The summer months can be spent planning and preparing. Planting season goes from autumn through winter and springtime.

· Water features. Pollinators, birds and wildlife need water too. Adding a birdbath or a small fountain will not only enhance your garden, but add to the tranquility of your garden setting.

· Bare soil for bees. Native bees need their habitat too. These bees are not aggressive and will help in the pollination of your garden.

These are some of the fundamental steps to take to start a native plant landscape. It will conserve water, is earth friendly and better equipped to deal with a changing climate.

In Part 3, I will share with you my personal favorite native plants.

I design and install native and drought tolerant gardens. If you have questions or concerns I will be happy to assist you.

Roger Boddaert, Maker of Natural Gardens, can be reached at 760-728-4297.


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