6 California Garden Trends You’re About to See Everywhere
From getaway gardens to the current planting colorways, we’re always interested in maximizing whatever outdoor space we are lucky to have. (Even a houseplant is welcome hit of green.) We’ve noticed California’s gardening scene really popping off, so we investigated what major takeaways this fertile time has yielded. Curb appeal, chill-out zone, collector cactus craze—whatever your motivation, there’s a little bit of California sunshine in these trends.
1. Xeriscape As Chic
Xeriscape—that’s low-water gardening—has historically had a bad rap as being a boring bunch of scrubby, thirsty-looking plants. But Echo Park-based Cactus Store has single-handedly made specimen cactus and succulents into today’s most coveted, fashionable plant category (the rich assemblage of musician John Mayer’s picture-window plantings alone has revolutionized the idea of the dry desert landscape). A seasonal pop-up shop in New York City and a growing product line that includes furniture and pottery means there’s a little bit of equatorial-adjacent style available for your porch, patio or tabletop, no matter where you live.
2. Intentional Wildness
The tidy garden of post-war-era plantings has given way to a less formal style of landscape that favors native plants and reclaimed lumber while still acknowledging the historic significance of invasive species. It’s yardwork-as-culture, best articulated by the thoughtful writing coming from L.A. and San Francisco design studio Terremoto. Read the relatable, witty “Horticultural Semiotics: Ugly Beautiful in Los Angeles” by principal designer David Godshall and you’ll appreciate Southern California roadsides in a completely new way, and understand how a collective devoted to “garden anarchy” is designing the exterior of movie star homes and honored by prestige interiors magazines.
3. Yard = ASMR Experience
We’re all accustomed to the relaxing beauty of a gorgeous wild landscape, as well as the intoxicating smell of herbs and flowers, and now another sense—sounds of the meadow—are proving alluring as well. These sounds can be thought of as nature’s ASMR, or “brain tingles.” Scientists have found that listening to sounds from nature inspires cognitive rejuvenation, aka a salve for today’s stressed-out mind. The Silverlake back yard that Studio John Sharp designed for actor Charlie Carver is a case in point, with the satisfying crunch of underfoot gravel and the purr of waving clumps of grasses. Add to this a burbling natural fountain—today’s most coveted are subdued and low-profile—and you’ll have a spa experience just steps away.
4. Rocks As Focal Points
Instead of huge sculptures or multi-tiered, Frenchified fountains, today’s planting focal point is often a handsome chunk of stone or a statement boulder. Garden Temple in Studio City sells veined wonders of marble that cost hundreds of dollars, even before the additional expense of hoisting them into place in a sea of green. Rugged boulders, too, are set into a landscape to create a hardscape punctuation for the overall Where the Wild Things Are jungly look of a lawn.
5. Forget Sending Flowers, Here’s a Plant
Online retailer The Sill has opened brick-and-mortar locations for houseplants-as-therapy, and their West Hollywood shop is the place to stop in to bring a housewarming or birthday or Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day or well, anytime gift. Because the collection of easy-to-care-for fauna is the tabletop pick-me-up that's guaranteed to inspire a smile.
6. Native Plants in Nurseries
According to the Audobon Society, restoring native plant habitat is important for creating and preserving biodiversity. In California, native plants use less water and support more insect and animal life than imported trees, shrubs and flowers. Eastside nursery Artemisia and Plant Material sell native plants and gardening supplies as an eco-measure. (That’s a pot of brilliant blooming California native flannel bush above.)