Ready to Go Coastal Garden

Beach and Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance Friendly Design

This garden was designed to demonstrate beach friendly landscaping consistent with the City of Santa Monica’s extensive sustainable landscaping incentives and guidelines. The design balances privacy concerns with the desire to welcome and entertain guests, maximizes water efficiency, and will maintain a lush appearance year round.  If you have a home in Santa Monica or another Los Angeles Beach Community, this design might be a great starting point for you!

Ready-to-Go Coastal Garden

This ready-to-go sustainable landscape design answered the City of Santa Monica’s challenge to design a coast-appropriate sustainable garden. The City asked that the designs be easy to recreate, neighborhood appropriate, and ultimately sustainable. If you live in Santa Monica, or one of Los Angeles’ walkable beach communities, this design may work for you.

The Vision: A Customizable Sustainable Landscape Design

FormLA Landscaping sought to create an easily replicable, thoroughly enjoyable and ultimately sustainable landscape design, appropriate for both frontage and backyard space in coastal areas.

Ideally, a sustainable landscape design minimizes the effect of landscape construction and landscape maintenance on the air, water, and fossil fuel resources. This landscape design uses a LEED® best practices to accomplish these goals, namely:

  • Using green building and plant materials readily available in Los Angeles and incorporating recycled products wherever possible
  • Designing plant groupings that like the same amount of water for a simplified irrigation layout and optimal water use
  • Selecting climate-appropriate plants, including our IdealMow™ lawn alternatives to minimize the ongoing maintenance needs, production of green waste, need for chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and consumption of water
  • Incorporating edibles to save the occasional trip or two to the grocery store

These same LEED® strategies ensure homeowners using the design can easily recreate the sustainable landscape and spend more time enjoying than maintaining their outdoor living space.

The Design: Easy, Enjoyable, Sustainable

While landscaping challenges can be daunting, FormLA’s coastal garden design provides a variety of ways to transform outdoor spaces into safe, healthy, easy‐to‐maintain, sustainable landscapes.

From the street, this sustainable landscape presents a balanced and inviting picture. The first step into the garden is a broad landing, surrounded by low vegetation, such as Thymus pseudolanuginosus or this Dymondia margaretae (Silver Carpet). The large, square permeable concrete pavers that lead toward the home complement most home designs. However, to complement more rustic or Spanish homes, color can be incorporated into the pavers, or they may be overlaid with slate or flagstone for a rich, warm appearance.

As we continue on our path, we are ensconced by shade the shade of a ficus tree, protected throughout Santa Monica. On both sides of the approach, the plant height layers up to 1-4 feet. With large agave and tall foliage like this rich purple Lavandula stoechas buffeting either side of the path, the approach gains a sense of intimacy.

Our next step takes us to a small seating area, a neighborly introduction to the home. There is space provided for placement of a sculpture, water feature or pottery to provide additional visual interest from the patio. Visually compelling foliage like this Euphorbia characias adds interest, fragrance, and privacy to the seating area.

Looking toward the street from the doorstep, tall foliage such as Cordyline australis surrounds us. We see the full length of the approach, while having the sense that we have entered protected space.

The Result: A Ready-to-Go Design

If you live in a Los Angeles beach community, this design is a ready-to-go option for you! Do it yourself, or invite us to help customize the design to your needs and site specifications.

Regardless of who does the heavy-lifting, effectively customizing this design should include:

  • Analysis of the microclimates on your property to determine which of the recommended plant options will thrive for the long term
  • Effective placement and setting of irrigation systems to ensure plant communities with different needs get the just-right amount of water
  • Consideration of existing trees or hardscapes that can be integrated into the design or reclaimed and repurposed in your new sustainable landscape
  • Choosing materials that match the architecture of your home and rules and regulations of your community

Read more Sustainable Landscaping Tips