Customer Transforms Landscape with Captivating California Native Plant Garden

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2024

If you are traveling through Eastside Costa Mesa and spot a home surrounded by a lush green garden teeming with wildlife, native plants and sculptures – you’re likely passing Mesa Water District (Mesa Water®) customer, Travis Gramberg’s stunning front yard garden! However, his garden is more than just a beautiful addition to the neighborhood—it’s a new way of life for many Southern Californians.

Mesa Water is proud to provide customers with an abundance of local, reliable water. All water customers use indoors is captured, recycled and put back into the groundwater basin. However, water used outdoors is not captured and recycled. Customers can make the biggest impact in water use efficiency by focusing on their outdoor water usage, which has been Travis’ goal for the past two and a half years. By selecting native plants that are adapted to our region’s natural conditions, his garden has significantly reduced the need for supplemental watering and promotes water use efficiency and environmental sustainability.

A landscape architect and owner of Costa Mesa-based Koheid Design by day, Travis found his passion for native plants, water use efficiency and ecology as he began experimenting with his garden using California native plants to create a sustainable design language that proves water use efficiency does not mean a garden lacking vibrancy. At first, Travis received pushback from others on a fully native garden because of the misconceptions surrounding California natives. For many, the first thing that comes to mind when picturing a fully native plant garden is often messy and weedy plants, absent of blooming flowers and shrubs, but his garden is proof that this is far from the truth.

Today his landscape is lower maintenance and saves water when compared to having a turf or a non-native yard. To help offset costs of relandscaping, Travis utilized Mesa Water’s rebate programs for drip irrigation, turf removal and smart timers. If you’re considering replacing your yard with native plants, Travis encourages other Mesa Water customers to, “just go for it.” He recommends customers experiment, research and use resources like Mesa Water’s rebate programs and local nurseries for plant options and ideas.

The selections of California native plants are endless; you can start small and test what works and what doesn’t for your yard, which is what Travis did. As his experimentation evolved, he has continued to explore innovative options and today’s result is a closed loop yard that captures all surface runoff water used in the garden. To do this, he removed the concrete from his driveway and replaced it with permeable pavers — layers of turf blocks and rocks. To capture additional water, he created a rain garden which includes a Hügelkultur – a sloped planting bed filled with topsoil, wood and organic materials that has now become a thriving ecosystem amongst a spray of blooming California poppies.

Travis’ yard is a great example of native plant gardening. Mesa Water encourages customers to consider incorporating sustainable practices into their own landscapes. The District offers a variety of resources including landscaping mockups, recommended watering schedules and more. Take a look today at