California Lilacs, or Ceanothus, are one of our many native plants that put on a colorful show late winter.  See what else is in bloom this month! 


Feb, 02, 2016
Snowpack Holds More Water Than Last Year, but Drought Conditions Continue and So Should Conservation
Read More..


It's time to get your bare roots! These are plants sold in late winter and early spring without soil around their roots.

Many deciduous plant varieties come this way, including many fruit and shade trees, flowering shrubs, roses, grapes, and cane fruits.  

Besides being about half-price of the same plants in a container purchased later in the year, bare root stock will establish more quickly, and get off to a better start. Find out why from Sunset Magazine.  

When you're ready to plant, use this great guide from the Arbor Day Foundation. 

Curious about starting your own backyard orchard or food forest? Check out this in-depth educational publication about bare root tree planting from Cornell.  
Prefer hands on experience? Find your gloves, shovel, pencil and notebook and take a class!

Bare Root: Selection and Planting of your Urban Orchard  
with K.Ruby Blume
North Oakland - $60

Saturday, February 20th 
10:00am - 12:00pm

Homesteading 101: All About Bare Root Trees
with Tom Cronin
Palo Alto - $35

Saturday, February 20th
2:00pm - 4:00pm 

Are you cuddling up next to a romantic fire this Valentine's Day?  Here are some tips for your outdoor fire pit. 

KEEP DEBRIS OUT OF YOUR FIRE PIT Dead leaves and other combustible organic matter can ignite in your fire pit, and then ride the updraft up and out of the safe zone. 

BE AWARE OF DAMP LAVA ROCKS Lava rock absorbs and retains moisture in its porous cavities. When heated rapidly, that moisture can turn to steam, build up pressure, and cause the lava rocks to explode.  

If your fire pit has been exposed to the elements, it's a good idea to turn it on and let it run for 20-30 minutes with no one around to let rocks dry out before gathering around the warm fire.  

fire pit screen is a great solution that will keep leaves and debris out, lava rock shards, sparks and embers in, and still let heat escape.
COVER YOUR FIRE PIT Solid, water-proof fire pit covers like this one are a great solution to keeping leaves, debris and moisture out of your fire pit. Some also let you turn your fire pit into a table for gathering and dining around when not in use. Fire pit covers are available in many shapes and sizes, or can be made custom to your specifications. 

REPLACE YOUR LAVA ROCK There are many great fire pit filler options besides lava rock, from decorative, recycled "fire glass" available in a plethora of color choices, to treated "fire rock" for contrast, to ceramic or brick "fire balls" for a modern, sleek appearance. 


It’s raining – hooray! 
Now what? 

Finally, the rains have been falling and there’s snowpack in the Sierra’s!  Good news for our reservoirs.  However, the drought is not over.  As of December 1, 2015 California has adopted the updated MWELO (Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance). 

MWELO updated water restrictions on residential landscape projects over 500 sq.ft. of planted area (lawn, plants, etc.):
  • Landscape to contain no more than 25% high water use plants such as lawn and uncovered pools/ponds.
  • Landscape area of 75% or greater must be made up of low water use plants such as drought tolerant Mediterranean or California Natives
  • Irrigation systems must now meet state’s higher water efficiency standards (no runoff or overspray and more efficient nozzles, etc.)
  • Landscape areas less than 10’ wide must be irrigated with subsurface drip or other irrigation that produces no overspray or runoff.
  • Encourages the use of onsite storm water catchment (rain gardens, dry stream beds), use of recycled and greywater in the garden (laundry, dishwasher), and rainwater catchment such as rain barrels. 
  • For more details, go to www.water.ca.gov
  • For water saving rebates go to: www.EBMUD.com and www.CCWater.com

Want to save water by replacing your lawn?

People are curious about using artificial turf as a lawn substitute.  Although it may be a solution for a small residential putting green, artificial lawn has it’s own set of problems. 

First, it takes lots of water and resources to produce during the manufacturing process.  Runoff from artificial turf may contain harmful chemicals and carcinogens such as lead, arsenic, phthalates that can reach surface water or groundwater. Artificial lawns are dramatically hotter than natural grass, reaching temperatures up to 150 degrees making them too hot to play on at times. After a life expectancy of 10 - 15 years artificial turf then ends up in landfills.
Instead of artificial turf, think about replacing your lawn with a living landscape made up of drought tolerant trees, shrubs and California native perennials.

Your garden can then be filled with a variety of seasonal plant colors and textures while using significantly less water than a lawn.  Your soil will be healthier which supports healthy microbes, filters pollutants and improves water quality.  Lots of beautiful pollinators like hummingbirds and butterflies will also love to visit your yard. 

Other lawn replacement ideas include things like DG gravel seating areas, patio spaces, edible gardens, dry streambeds, no-mow lawn, and more. 

Upcoming Events with
Bringing Back the Natives

Valentine's Day
Native Plant Sale Extravaganza

Saturday, February 14
10:00am - 4:00pm
Oakland, Richmond & San Leandro

 Spring Workshops
Bringing Back the Natives Spring Tour
Sunday, May 1
10:00am - 5:00pm
Self-guided tour of 32 private native gardens and nursuries all over the East Bay
Register Now
Preview the gardens for 2016.


Arcotstaphylos hookerii x pajaroensis - Sunset Manzanita

Sunset Manzanita is a sprawling, evergreen shrub that commonly grows three foot high and six feet wide. Sunset manzanita has dark red bark, white flowers, and bright bronze new growth. It's drought tolerant, and neat and compact. This natural hybrid likes good drainage, but tolerates clay. It performs well as a foundation plant, or is stunning against a brick wall or redwood fence. 


We are happy to help you and your landscape through the drought with intelligent, water-conserving irrigation solutions.

A landscape water survey includes: an inspection of your current irrigation system for efficiency and leaks; a customized irrigation schedule that makes sense for your system, climate, soil and plant types; a personalized water budget for your landscape based on your needs and local municipal requirements; and specialized recommendations for your property and micro-climates.   

Not only will smart water management reduce water waste, lower your water bills and save money - it also means healthier, longer lived plants, and a better return on your landscape investment.

Check with your water district for water survey rebates!

QWEL certified professionals have been trained on principals of proper plant selection for the local climate, irrigation system design and maintenance, and irrigation system programming and operation. 

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