Modern native garden
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Modern native garden: clean-lined and drought-tolerant

The approach to the house is a silvery-green sea of California native shrubs and gently swaying grasses. There’s the soft crunch of gravel and decomposed granite underfoot and the dappled shade from a Mediterranean olive tree overhead. Wide steps and a shaded seating area span the front of the house. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
By Debra Prinzing When Scott Lenz and Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz decided to renovate their L.A. house rather than move, the architecture team of Adrian Koffka and Cynthia Phakos of Koffka/Phakos Design suggested that the putty-gray stucco could be complemented with a yellow-green door. The owners saw a sample of the acid hue and decided to use it on all the doors and windows. The vibrant palette is a fine foil for a new landscape -- and the Pod Version 1.0 planter set on a low stand.  (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
The homeowners sit on a low, L-shaped concrete wall that doubles as a bench. Behind them are the stems of Chondropetalum tectorum, commonly known as small cape rush. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
The banded stems of small cape rush in detail. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
The garden’s design goes beyond plant palette. The idea was to treat the frontyard as a space open to the neighborhood, a friendly place where the owners can interact with others in the community. “Every time a young family walks by with a stroller and asks about a plant we’re making a connection,” Gilberg-Lenz said. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Western redbud blooms in this photo taken in the spring; the plum-colored deciduous tree will grow to be a focal point. Though many people turn to their gardens in spring, the climate of Southern California makes fall the better planting season. California native plants often do better planted in fall instead of spring, because winter rain and cooler temperatures allow them to get established before the heat of summer arrives. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
The wild rye Canyon Prince provides some nice contrast to the tidy square pavers. (It’s a plant previously featured in our sustainable landscaping column, the Dry Garden.) (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
Gilberg-Lenz relaxes in one of the new sitting areas. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
The frontyard scrapped lawn altogether, but the rear garden includes turf along with bamboo and some of the same native plants as seen in the front. (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)
“This is a very contemporary house inside, but it also has a heritage and a history,” Gates says. “Similarly, in the garden, we wanted to have a nice blend between California history -- with the native plants -- and what’s new and hip.”

More profiles: California homes and gardens
L.A. at Home: Our home and garden blog  (Michael Robinson Chavez / Los Angeles Times)