7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase

The 7th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase is Saturday, April 25, 2015, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

This Earth Day celebration, presented by the Mar Vista Community Council, seeks to empower Angelenos to adopt environmentally conscious living solutions. With many people walking or biking their tours, there is a tremendous sense of community as garden enthusiasts from throughout Southern California join our neighbors to celebrate our shared vision for a greener life

Each year, we feature different areas within Mar Vista. This year there are five walkable garden clusters in Mar Vista Community Council zones 4, 5 and 6. Click here to see a map.

This is a curated show. The featured gardens have one or more of the following sustainability features: California native/drought tolerant plantings, edibles, water catchment systems. Use the garden tags on the right to find gardens with these features and more, including chickens and beekeeping.

The Mar Vista community has an ongoing commitment to encouraging sustainability in all aspects of life. The Green Tent at the Mar Vista Farmers' Market hosts a different eco-presenter each Sunday. Every 4th Sunday, UCCE Master Gardeners visit The Green Tent with seeds, seedlings and advice. 

Would you like to be on the Green Garden Showcase email list? Contact us at gardens@marvista.org. We will not bombard you with emails!

Did you miss the 2014 tour, or some of the gardens on it? Click here to display a 2014 Green Garden Showcase map, then follow the directions to create your own personal tour map. PLEASE BE RESPECTFUL OF GARDEN OWNERS’ PROPERTY. View gardens from the sidewalk unless invited in. Don’t pick anything!

3972 Coolidge Avenue - Cluster 1E

The homeowners removed both front and back lawns in 2008 solely to conserve water. The bonus was that they enjoy the spaces they created far more than they ever enjoyed a lawn. 

Flagstone patios are filled with oversized pots planted with cactus and succulents. The surrounding beds are planted with lots of California Native plants, more cactus and succulents and other drought tolerant plants. 

In front, they added a half wall to create a front courtyard. In all, they created 3 additional seating zones in addition to the back patio. They enjoy relaxing with the garden view and enjoy the abundance of birds, bees and butterflies that flock to their Certified Wildlife Habitat

The sprinklers are on timers – turned off most of the winter and well into Spring, rarely running more than 5 minutes once a week. The pots are hand-watered using water captured in the shower and rain barrels. These changes reduced the water usage by at least 50% from when they had turf lawns.

The homeowners have made many green changes to their home. These include solar panels, EV charging for their electric car, a tankless water heater, solar tubes, and a whole house water filtration system that operates without using reverse osmosis.

Mark LeGrand of Compost Tea Guy will be on hand to answer questions. Last year, the homeowner began nurturing the garden by having Mark apply compost tea which is the perfect mixture of living biology - made from rich, living compost - and is chemical and synthetic free. When applied to the soil and plants it creates a healthy productive garden. Mark will also answer questions about best practices and maintenance of rain barrels. And you'll be able to purchase some compost tea to try on your garden.

3554 Mountain View Avenue - Cluster 2D

When these garden owners bought their house in July 2012, the front and back yards consisted of turf and a few shrubs. After remodeling, all that remained was dirt...so basically they were starting with a blank canvas. Their goal was to create a drought-resistant front garden that would the contemporary style of their house and, in the back, divide the yard into three useful, well-defined areas that would also be mindful of the water limitations of gardening in Los Angeles.

In the fall of 2013, they hired 
Pam Bottaro of Red Lemon Landscape to design and plant the garden. 

In the front garden, Red Lemon planted California natives, succulents and Southern Hemisphere and Mediterranean water-wise plants that surround two Marina Arbutus trees and flank the path to the front door. Initially Red Lemon also planted Native Bent Grass in the front, but when that proved problematic, they replaced it with landscape gravel around the trees and on the parking strip.

In the back, they divided the large yard into three distinct areas: a fenced vegetable garden with raised beds made out of broken concrete recycled from the remodel; a small fruit orchard with with a dozen trees and a grape arbor; and an area of drought-tolerant Native Bent Grass with perimeter plantings of California Natives and other water wise plants near a fountain off an outdoor living room. 

The irrigation was switched from sprinklers to drip emitter lines, and their controller is on a satellite with weather-sensing technology that automatically adjusts watering amounts and schedule year round.

Going from a boring yard to a lovely landscaped garden gives the homeowners much joy – they have a seasonal supply of citrus and stone fruit, grapes, berries and an ever evolving vegetable garden, and a delightful show of butterflies and hummingbirds.   

3710 Mountain View Avenue - Cluster 2B

This front yard, originally a sloping bit of turf in a home built in 1951, was transformed into a courtyard by manipulating the grades and animating the space with a single contemporary, custom cast concrete fountain. 

Two Acacia podalyrifolia trees, planted about 12 years ago from 5 gallon containers, grace the court with yellow blossoms in winter and white grey foliage. "Grandma's Purple" Irises flank the fountain, and Pittosporum crassifolium are both hedges and sculptural forms. 

The garden has not been irrigated since it was established. The paving is custom cut and fit concrete pavers, which were both reasonably priced and have proved quite durable. 

This garden reflects the changing inspirations of the two owners -  Katherine Spitz, AIA, ASLA, LEED AP (landscape architect of garden)  and Daniel Rhodes, Architect.  It is always a work in progress.  They have been inspired by the places where building and architecture become one - hedges are walls, trees are columns, paving stones are floors, and tree canopies are ceilings.

3442 Colonial Street - Cluster 3F


The owners have lived in this house for 20 years. At times over the years, the garden was pretty and well-tended. Lawns in front and back, a lovely giant ficus tree in front and flowers. They always had to hand water the lawn and plants for lack of an irrigation system. It all worked until ...it didn't.

Just prior to the garden redesign last year, the yard had become severely neglected. They no longer had time to hand water the required one hour at a time. The lawn was dead. The ficus tree in front, which had always provided shade for the shade flowers, had died, which also meant all of the flowers had died as well. Just picture it. Dry, dead, devoid of life and, obviously, ugly.

Their goals for landscaping were not lofty:

1. No lawn ANYwhere.
2. Install an irrigation system so they won't have to water for an hour.
3. Design a space the boys (1 tween/1 teen) and the owners will want to use.
4. Use pretty, native plants that don't need much care.

They interviewed several landscape architects and, upon meeting Shannon Cushing (Cushing Landscape Design) knew she was the right designer. They could tell she thought this project would be a challenge as well as fun. She also understood they didn't have endless funds to invest.

The newly designed front and back garden met all of their goals and exceeded all of their expectations. They now have an inviting front yard that includes a small sitting space on top where they sometimes read or have coffee. Neighbors as well as people they've never spoken to before continue to comment on what a lovely space it is. The stone path in front is pretty and practical: no walking on gravel to get to the driveway and the path is broad enough so everyone can walk on it at the same time to get to where they need to without trampling on plants.

The backyard is now a four-room oasis.

1. Dining
2. Hangout: built-in stone bench/fire pit
3. Play: jacuzzi and trampoline
4. Decorative/functional: fruit trees and all-year flowering slope

This family now uses the backyard all the time: daytime, nighttime, warm weather and chilly. And if the adults are out having adult conversation by the fire pit, the boys can be in the play area or eating in the dining area. Everyone has their private space if they want it, but they can all be together, too.

The owners invite you to tour their garden and hear all about the creative and planning process! 
Homeowner will be on hand to lead you through garden and distribute list of plants used in design. Landscape designer will be on hand for part of the day to address questions.

Balthasar Leon (818-317-1217) was the mason. Carlos Almaraz (310-977-6198) did the irrigation and planting.

3482 Beethoven Street - Cluster 4A

This mature garden is a combination of California Native, Australian and Mediterranian plants. The garden was planted about seven years ago and is always a work in progress. 

It is a complete DIY project. Starting with ripping out the old Bermuda grass, designing and installing the drip irrigation system, choosing the plants, designing and installing the plantings and laying the walkway, the garden owners came away with lots of blisters and a true feeling of satisfaction.

Feeding the local fauna was strongly considered when picking plants as well as strong design elements. They pay close attention to textures, fragrances, patterns, architectural elements and rich colors. 

The plants include three kinds of salvia, Arbutus trees, wooly thyme, native columbine, grevillias , flax, euphorbia and wooly bush from Australia, an Olive tree, deep purple heuchra, fescue, ameria maritima and senecio, and others.

There is a rain catchment barrel on the property and reclaimed cement from the old path was used for the walkway.

3544 Ocean View Avenue - Cluster 2I

These homeowners are not big gardeners by any means. They wanted drought tolerant landscaping that requires very little maintenance. 

After landscape designer Cynthia Upstill (Wells Garden Design) presented a few options they replaced their lawn with evergreen clumping grasses called sesleria caerulea, which only need watering twice per week. They also enlarged the hardscape by adding more field stone, a larger bed of pebbles surrounding a maple tree and replacing the lawn on the parkway and driveway strips with decomposed granite. They added several other drought tolerant succulents, shrubs and grasses to their planting beds.

3642 Inglewood Boulevard - Cluster 2A

One owner's mother was a champion gardener. Her last garden in Santa Barbara is memorialized in The Smithsonian. She taught her much about the fun and joy of gardening. "I think of her as I go around the garden to cut flowers and greens for the house, dead head, weed and make up pots for splashes of color."

Life, as you know, can get complicated and this garden did not fare so well. With concerns about water usage and the continuing drought, they let it become quite fallow.

Then they made some changes to our home and it seemed the right time to make over the garden to something sustainable and easy to care for. George Boulanger put them in touch with landscape architect Tom Rau. 

Tom listened to their desires for creating a water wise garden with a cottage garden feel about it. While discussing various ideas, he suggested they open up the back by removing the fence that closed off the back garden from the driveway. One thing led to another!

A year later they have a new garage with a deck, a totally new patio area, a fabulous potting table and a garden that nearly takes care of its self. In the morning when they go out the front door, it is smells like being out in the country with the sage, mallo and lavender. 

It took a year to get it all done. They have had some set backs due to young plants and extremely hot spells. They haven't seen it through all its phases but are enjoying each day as the plants mature and show their personalities. 

Spring should bring out the colors of the native flowers and they believe that they will be peaking for the tour. 

The owners hope that the design and ideas put together by their team of Tom (design and plant selection), George (hardscape, fencing, garage & deck and potting table) and Eyal Zucker (Land Sculpting Inc.- irrigation system and plantings) will inspire others to take the steps to create water wise gardens too.