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5 Native Plants to Fill Out Your North Bay Garden

North Bay Climate Zones Native PlantsNo matter where you live, it is always beneficial to introduce Native Plants to your garden. Native Plants evolved in their preferred climate & soil type, and around local animals, so they are most adapted to thrive in their local environment. These plants also need less watering & maintenance, they will attract local wildlife, and need no pesticides.

At FYGN, we love Native Plants because they are the easiest for our clients to take care of on a day-to-day basis. Here is a list of 5 of our favorite plants, native to San Francisco, and the Northern Bay Area.

1. Amethyst flower

Amethyst flowers blossom in vibrant blues, purples, and whites, while growing one to two feet tall. Plant them in your yard or in hanging baskets to add a beautiful touch of color to your green garden, and a smile to your face.
2. Begonia (Tuberous)

The Begonia is another dashingly colorful plant, perfect for pots, hanging, or in your garden bed. They flourish best when potted with rich soil in filtered shade, making them perfect for Bay Area gardens. They will bloom abundantly by hanging them, but the flowers will grow larger by potting them, so you can decide what works best for your home.
3. Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum)

Despite the name, the Dead Nettle produces pretty flowers and an exuberant green hue guaranteed to liven up any garden. The Dead Nettle grows in many varieties, and some are even edible. Whether you plant it as an accent to your garden, or to consume, the Dead Nettle is a solid choice for your Bay Area home.
4. Flowering Maple (Abutilon hybrids)

The Flowering Maple is an evergreen shrub that grows up to 8 feet tall. The dwarf genus of this plant is commonly referred to as “Melon Sorbet”, and will grow 18 to 36 inches in pots. This bell-shaped orange plant is a nice complement to other blue and purple flowers, and is the perfect addition to your garden.
5. Heuchera

The “Electric Lime” coloring of the Heuchera is certainly enough to liven up even the darkest greens of your garden. Heuchera grows up to 28 inches, and is best suited for cooler climates with little sun in the Bay Area. This plant attracts butterflies and hummingbirds, and is sure to brighten your day.
FYGN primarily caters to CA Climate Zones 15, 16, & 17.

Ahhhh…Summer Livin’

Ahhh…last week was a reminder of warm and sunny days to come. The smell of BBQ’s, fresh cut grass and long days are almost here. After a record rainfall and our drought officially over it might be time to turn attention to your back yard

and create the outdoor oasis you’ve always dreamed of. Be it a quick refresh or cleanup, new look or updated design, For Your Gardens’ Needs can help expand your living and entertaining space outdoors. Give me a call today to schedule an appointment. I am always happy to visit with new clients and discuss how we can help create an inspired and affordable oasis for relaxed summer living. Oh, and just because the drought is over doesn’t mean we abandon our sustainable and cost effective Bay Friendly landscaping techniques. Cheers, Bret

11 Cost Effective Ways to Combat the California Drought

Landscaping for drought Marin. It is no mystery that the US is in the midst of a serious drought. One of the states being affected the most is California. According to a report released by the NOAA on April 15, 2014, many areas of CA have been classified at D4 intensity, meaning that they are experiencing an “Exceptional Drought.”

Now, more than ever, we must work together to conserve as much water as we possibly can. Here is a list of 11 simple ways we can work together to conserve water in our homes, and gardens.

1.Wash veggies and fruits in a large bowl or pot. When you’re done, you can use that water in your garden or for your houseplants.
2.If you have a yard, start a compost pile to avoid using your garbage disposal as much as possible. If you have pets, make sure to install a fence to keep them out.
3.Believe it or not, Energy Star rated dishwashers actually use less water than washing your dishes by hand. Load it, set it, and forget it!
4.The average 5-foot bathtub takes about 60 gallons of water to fill. Try taking a short shower instead.
5.The typical home shower streams about 7 gallons per minute. By reducing your shower time by 2 minutes, you will save nearly 420 gallons each month!
6.Bathroom and kitchen water faucets can use up to 3 gallons of water per minute. You can reduce the flow by up to 40% by installing newer aerators on each faucet.
7.Using a toilet tank bank will save up to 0.8 gallons per flush. Simply fill the bag with water and place it in your toilet tank and start saving water immediately!
8.Proper plant maintenance and pruning will aid your plants in drinking more effectively.
9.Place a few ice cubes in your hanging plants to give them a refreshing drink without overflowing them. The typical ice cube is about 1 oz, so the size of the plant should dictate how many cubes to use.
10.Rainwater harvesting is easier than you might think. Use a large barrel placed under your gutters to collect excess rainwater, and pour it over your garden.
11.Use a broom, instead of the hose, to clean your driveway and patios without wasting water. The average hose uses about 10 gallons per minute!

Together, we can save gallons of water each day by following these easy and cost-effective steps. For further tips and tricks, be sure to check the FYGN blog frequently!

The Sweet Smell of Success

I visited my brother recently at his home in Oakland, Ca. Unlike me, he inherited the family “Black Thumb” but somehow has managed to pull off one of the most fragrant and explosive Lavender gardens I have seen in the East Bay. I also noticed it writhing with docile bees, so it’s no surprise that everything around his house seemed to be vibrant and blooming. You may want to consider adding a beautiful sweet smelling lavender plot to your landscape to greet your guests, and I’m not just talking bees.


These clients were looking for something special for their first home. They wanted to create a warm and natural environment that was easy to maintain. We worked with award-winning designer Geff Geffin to deliver a beautiful garden.
FYGN Organic Landscaping

You are Soooo Irrigating!

That might be what your garden is thinking when they thirst for water or drowned in pooling. A properly maintained irrigation system and drainage are two extremely important factors to keep, happy, healthy and hearty plants. If you can hear your plants growing frustrated with their environment, we are glad to come and play therapist. We are irrigation professionals that can design a proper system, fix problems, and save you money.

Spring Forward to Fall

It’s a good idea to start thinking about yummy fall planting. Fat pumpkins, crunchy carrots and killer kale are only a few of the tasty treat you can fill your garden with. But you should start thinking about it now, especially if you are planning your first vegetable garden this year. Here is a great post on Mother Earth News Click Here

DIY Pots & Planters

How to Create Beautiful Pots and Planters for your Garden, Porch or Deck.

These planters are always a great way to bring life close to home. Vertical gardening and planters are fun and fresh way to bridge your garden to your front door. The trick is in the choosing, here are some tips to get started…

Planters look best when you combine plants with three different habits:
Vertical, such as phormium, canna, calla pennisetum or upright fuchsia (Fuchsia triphylla ‘Gartenmeister Bonstedt’)
Horizontal or weaving, such as heliotrope, osteospermum, petunia, coleus or impatiens
Cascading, such as nemesia, helichrysum, ipomea or callibrachoa.

You con find more details in a great article here

Planting a Tasty Organic Winter Garden

We certainly are blessed living in a fair climate that can support growing nearly year round.

Many garden crops do well in coastal Northern California during the winter months, but most need to be planted while it is still October, so that they germinate well and size up before it gets cold. There are several things to take into account in planting a organic winter garden, though.

1) Drainage—Be sure to build raised beds to plant your winter vegetables in; you may also want to incorporate some compost to lighten the soil texture.

2) Slugs and Snails— Snails are a nuisance all year, but slugs and snails especially like the wet weather. Try to eliminate their favorite hiding places (boards, plastic pots). The best way to control them is to pick them by hand at night or early in the morning and then, uh, “terminate” them. People who grew up in California often had this job when they were kids. Snails and slugs can destroy seedlings, so start your seeds in pots and then transplant the young seedlings when they have at least 6 or 8 leaves on them. Commercial snail baits are not only toxic, they are also not effective because of our heavy, sustained rains.

3) Plant Nutrition–you have already used up soil nutrients growing things over the spring and summer, so dig in some composted manure or alfalfa meal for nitrogen, or balanced organic fertilizer, as well as some compost, to give your winter vegetables the nutrition they need.

Plants that people have had success with in winter include

fava beans
sweet peas (flowers)
cabbage (a favorite of slugs and snails)
beets/swiss chard (easier than easy, last all winter; beets taste great roasted!)
For more information on winter gardening, and gardening in the Bay Area, see

Pam Peirce, Golden Gate Gardening (Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1998).

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