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See it: A patchy lawn is remade as showstopping urban meadow

DiAnna Moore used to be known as the Rose Lady.

"I had a carpet of red roses in my front yard," Moore says of her Northridge garden. "We tried to keep them alive, along with our Bermuda grass," all while trying to adhere to water conservation rules in place at the time.

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It was difficult.

After visiting some native gardens on one of Los Angeles' most popular spring garden tours — hosted each year for the Theodore Payne Foundation, dedicated to the promotion of native plants and wildflowers — and taking sustainable landscape design classes with landscape designer Cassy Aoyagi, Moore and her husband, Phil, decided to remove their lawn and replace it with something that would save water, reduce maintenance and still look lush.

Now it will be their turn to inspire others as their garden will be open to the public on April 15 as part of Theodore's Payne's Native Plant Garden Tour on April 14-15.

The front yard before
The front yard before (DiAnna Moore)
The meadow in bloom last March.
The meadow in bloom last March. (Lesly Hall)

"The garden is really quite unique in their neighborhood," says landscape architect Eric Crow of FormLA Landscaping, who helped them transform the 8,000-square-foot yard. "Walking down their street you will see a lot of traditional homes with lawns and thirsty plants. The Moore's garden creates a vibrant vision of what a native California garden can look like."

Despite the yard's size, Crow kept the design simple with a common yarrow meadow on either side of the brick driveway augmented by masses of natives you might find hiking around Southern California — coast buckwheat, and sagebrush.

You can walk on the yarrow, even mow it. And in the spring, the yarrow's long stems erupt in pretty white flowers. A variety of sages — white, hummingbird and Cleveland — add height while deergrass and Silver Carpet add softness.

Heuchera ‘Canyon Bells’
Heuchera ‘Canyon Bells’ (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Crow left a long-established orange tree and a Crape myrtle, and he left some of DiAnna's beloved roses, which are now softened by the native plants. "Roses are much easier to maintain when they are together in a designated area," Crow says. He also included some non-natives such as lavender at DiAnna's request.

Because the couple wanted to spend time in their yard, Crow installed permeable paths of decomposed granite so that they can travel through the garden and see plants up close. "We want this to be something that they experience and smell," adds Crow.

Three years later, the couple are pleased with their new lush landscape, which requires approximately 75% less water than when they were watering the lawn and roses. Although a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power turf removal rebate ran out before they could get compensated, they did receive rebates for a weather-based irrigation controller and an energy-efficient pool pump.

The benefits of native plants, however, go far beyond water conservation, Crow says. "We gravitate towards natives because they attract birds and butterflies. I'm excited to share the garden. It will give people an opportunity to see how resilient a native garden is and how lush it can be."

You can see for yourself on April 15.

A butterfly is drawn to some sage.
A butterfly is drawn to some sage. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

Moore garden plant list:

Achillea millefolium Common yarrow

Arbutus menziesii Madrone

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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Emerald Carpet' manzanita

Artemisia californica 'Canyon Grey' California sagebrush

Baccharis pilularis 'Pigeon Point' coyote brush

Berberis aquifolium Oregon Grape

Corethrogyne filaginifolia 'Silver Carpet' common sandaster

Eriogonum grande var. rubescens Red buckwheat

Eriogonum latifolium Coast buckwheat

Frangula californica 'Mound San Bruno' California coffeeberry

Heuchera 'Canyon Pink' coral bells

Iris douglasiana Douglas iris

Muhlenbergia rigens Deergrass

Prunus ilicifolia ssp. ilicifolia Holly leaf cherry

Ribes viburnifolium Catalina perfume

Salvia apiana White sage

Salvia clevelandii Cleveland sage

Salvia spathacea Hummingbird sage

A naturalistic meadow.
A naturalistic meadow. (Katie Falkenberg / Los Angeles Times)

What: Theodore Payne Native Plant Garden Tour

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 14 and 15

Where: The April 14 tour will focus on gardens in Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Long Beach, Manhattan Beach, West Adams and San Pedro. The April 15 tour will highlight gardens in Highland Park, Eagle Rock, Sherman Oaks, Woodland Hills, Northridge, North Hollywood, Altadena and Pasadena.

Tickets: $25 to $30. Includes admission for both days.

Twitter: @lisaboone19

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