Three zones organize the typical Los Angeles front yard, the "parkway" along the curb and street, the "common" adjoining the sidewalk, nd the "garden" zone where more plant variety is often seen. The predominance of low ground covers in commons and parkways maintains view across front yards and the traditional character of single-family neighborhood streetscapes.
There are thousands of species and varieties that could be planted in Southern California front yard landscapes. Most often we hear of 'drought-tolerant', 'summer dry' or 'mediterranean' plants. These may work, but we strongly encourage the planting of native plants that support the pollinators, insects, and animals that require local habitat for their nutrition. Read more at Why Plant Native?
California native plants typically require less water and maintenance than most of the ornamental non-native plants one finds at the typical big box nurseries. However, mixing natives into a garden can be tricky as their watering and pruning requirements vary greatly from non-natives. Before you start, consult a horticulturist at a local nursery, or a landscape design professional who can help you determine which plants work best in the sun, shade, soil and water conditions of your yard.
Typically, front yard makeovers should start with the trees. Most importantly, keep well established trees happy by using plants with similar water requirements around their bases and under their canopies. I f you are adding new trees, consider planting drought-tolerant native trees and use native plants in their surrounds. Trees are the most critical element defining the character of front yards and street commons; conserve and enhance your neighborhood's green canopy.
To learn more about plants, their potential size, and the best sun, soil and watering conditions, we encourage viewing several online resources, or refer to one of many photographic books available online or from your library. Not every plant thrives where you hope it might; you can expect some trial and error, but will have more success the more you know about the plant and its requirements.
Download and print any of the plant lists provided here to get an idea of what might work for Your Next Front Yard.
Native Plant Starter List