In the properties described below, these Curtis Park homeowners share their approaches to and enjoyment of their renovated front yard landscapes. These gardens were featured as part of the Curtis Park Home and Garden Tour in 2017. The tour takes place near the end of April every year for the last 31 years! Want to share your home or garden? Get in touch.
2312 Fourth Avenue by Steven
I purchased this home last April and faced grading, drainage and landscaping challenges. The yard was sloped, unkempt, mostly lawn and required large amounts of water and sunlight. I decided water-wise with partial sun exposure was the way to go to get a more lush appearance without the arid, stark look of southern California drought-tolerant motifs.
The property was re-graded with permeable pavers and French drains were added to allow for proper channeling of water. Existing shrubs were kept, and a programmable drip system was added.
The Escallonia Compacta around the border have delicate pink flowers that butterflies and hummingbirds really enjoy. The synthetic lawn is made of recycled materials, and is permeable to water and fairly low maintenance. I have caught people “touch testing” it to see if it is real! The repaved front entrance highlights the home’s art deco style.
Two spiral junipers in stainless steel pots finish the look.
2933 23rd Street by Mark and Jane
Our renovation was in response to the removal of a dying 101-year-old Elm tree. We needed to act swiftly to restore the habitat around the home as the elm provided shelter and sustenance to bees, hawks, woodpeckers, goldfinches, hummingbirds and butterflies.
The west-facing aspect precluded all but the hardiest of plants. A neighbor worked with Change of Seasons Landscaping and we were impressed with the company’s esthetic and their ability to piece together a sustainable, waterwise, year-round palette.
The design incorporates preferences from different ends of the state including sere rock formations of the south and dry Manzanitas of the north. The blend of both is anchored by Strawberry, Redbud, Tulip and Wisteria trees. An Elm was reintroduced to watch over the next century of families on our block.
Now, with the butterfly bushes, lemon tree, roses, California Poppies and daylilies, wildlife abounds in our little slice of paradise. Out of sorrow comes joy, on what some call the best street in the universe!
3027 25th Street by Ted and Cheri
When we bought our house five years ago the front yard was nothing but thirsty lawn and shrubs. Our vision was a yard filled with butterfly, bee, and hummingbird-friendly California natives and drought tolerant plants. There were two giant City street trees that provided a lot of shade, but made plant selection a little (OK, a lot) challenging! We reduced the size of the lawn and installed a no-mow, low-water fescue grass mix that grows well in both sun and shade.
The following summer, in short succession, the giant trees fell due to drought stress. This was a devastating loss of habitat and shade canopy, but it opened up new possibilities for our landscaping. We had sun! This called for a re-design of the parking strip, including sun-loving, nature-friendly plants. It was also our opportunity to create bioswales — depressions in the soil designed to capture and filter storm water runoff. The bioswales provide visual interest (and a conversation starter), and allow our new City street trees to receive more “free” water during the rainy season.
3041 25th Street by Kathleen and Bill
From the slow demise of the thirsty lawn and ornamentals present when we moved in, to the colorful fort and treehouse our kids enjoyed when they were very young, to the long experiment with lawn lasagna (or sheet mulching), our yard has been an exercise in benign neglect.
We were inspired to renovate our corner lot by witnessing the transformation of our next door neighbor’s front yard (3027 25th Street described above), coupled with turf replacement incentives offered by the City of Sacramento and State of California. The significant length of prominent retaining wall was a critical design and cost obstacle. After seeing an impressive design a few blocks away utilizing hand-placed river rock, we contracted with Gary Kernick of Change of Seasons Landscaping. Gary assisted us with the design and installation of our new landscape in 2015. Drought tolerance was a key criterion in plant selection as was compatibility with our beloved oak tree. We now use drip irrigation and a smart Rachio controller which automatically adjusts for weather conditions to minimize water use. The distinctive, large branch used in the rock terracing fell from a neighbor’s Douglas Fir in a 2014 storm.