What is a front yard, and what does it do? Many front yards in LA County are just yards. Maybe a few tired shrubs hide the foundation of the house and a big stretch of grass runs out to the sidewalk. This grass is rarely used by people, though it is often popular with passing dogs. A traditional front yard doesn’t really do anything except fill space between the house and the street and use lots of water and maintenance time and energy. A drought tolerant front yard can be so much more! It can give you shade and privacy; it can provide habitat for birds and butterflies; it can feed you and your friends (depending on the rules in your community); it can be an outdoor living room, creating a friendlier and safer neighborhood; and most of all it is your last chance to capture and filter our precious rain before it runs into the storm drain and right into creeks, rivers and the ocean! That seems like a lot of work for this small space. Our Plant Design is a model that you can modify to fit your own front yard. Don’t forget that a front yard needs a good, safe path to your front door. This Plant Design uses pieces of flagstone, but your path also can be concrete pavers, brick, or concrete. Just make sure that any path is wide enough and safe for walking (level stones, no tripping edges). A good guideline is to leave a 3’ minimum width for pathways; 5’ is good for two people walking side-by-side. Feel free to mix and match the plants on our list to fit your taste. Don’t care for fluffy grasses? Switch them out with small, native evergreen shrubs. Or keep it super simple and just use groundcovers everywhere. Already have a few well-established plants that you love and that will survive on very little water? Keep them, and choose plants from the list that you think will look nice as companions. You may be wondering about the gravel and rocks in the middle of the garden. Meet your new rain garden (aka swale)! Sounds fancy, but really, it’s very simple. Your rain garden is just a little soil basin to slow, spread, and sink some rain water into your front yard. Follow the simple instructions in the sidebar on the next page and direct your downspouts into the basin. Your soil and plants will be really happy that you did! It’s all part of creating a truly drought tolerant garden.