One of the reasons people choose to move to Lamorinda is for the spacious, garden friendly backyards. Whether you’ve got a quarter of an acre or ten acres, there’s plenty of room to create your own oasis and loads of nurseries and resources to help you make your outdoor dreams a reality.
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Living in California means living with the occasional drought. Planning for years with less rain can save your garden from turning brown when the sprinklers have to be turned down.
To learn which native plants are best suited to our climate zone and how to care for them, join the East Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society. Meetings are held monthly, usually in the Orinda Library’s garden room, are open to members and non-members alike and cover a wide variety of subjects related to California’s native flora. Too busy for meetings? Sign up for their newsletter, the Bay Leaf.
Additionally, the chapter operates a non-profit nursery in nearby Tilden Park. Staffed by volunteers, Native Here is open only few days a week. To save time, visit their website to find hours and view a current list of available plants.
Living in Color
With our hot summers and chilly winters, many plants that wouldn’t survive on the other side of the tunnel can thrive here, giving you the opportunity to spread your horticultural wings. Whether you’re looking for succulents or salvia, the knowledgeable staff at Orchard Nursery can help you find the varieties that are best suited to our Lamorinda climate zone.
Visit their website to sign up classes such as Winter Veggies 101, Plant for a Spring Show or Winter Terrariums. Some are free and all fill up quickly. Orchard is a festive place to visit no matter the season. Pop in during the fall or winter for a beautiful display of plants and decorative items for your outdoor or indoor space.
Their weekly newsletter can keep you up to date on what to plant each month and let you know when unique and special items for the garden become available throughout the year. Follow them on Instagram @orchardnursery for daily doses of outdoor inspiration.
Family owned since 1933, McDonnell Nursery in Orinda has a great selection of perennials, annuals, succulents, veggies and offers free delivery to the local area. Need advice?
McDonnell’s garden consultation service can help. For $150.00, the nursery will send someone out to recommend new and waterwise plantings, tips for maintenance, advice on pruning, help with pest identification and more. The fee includes not only the hour and a half consult, but also a $50.00 gift card to spend at the nursery. Extended time or additional visits will run you $75.00 an hour.
They also offer planting services for larger items and a house plant consultation for when your fiddle leaf fig is looking a little wilted or you need help picking just the right thing for that sunny corner of your living room. Check out their monthly tips page to stay in the know.
Moraga holds its own with garden and yard support - with Moraga Garden Center. MGC is a Bay Area gem and a favorite with local urban farmer ‘Feral Kevin’. It has a beautiful diversity of plants of all types: ornamental/landscaping, veggies, fruit trees, unusual rare plants (edible and not).
The owner, Ken Murakami, is an incredible source of knowledge of plants, horticulture, gardening, pests, local conditions and more! Moraga Garden Club has an outdated web presence but a bustling community - and hosts a plant sale each spring to get local gardens going a little faster.
When you’ve got some free time, make the trek out to Annie’s Annuals in Richmond. Despite their name, Annie’s carries not only annuals, but also perennials, as well as hard to find heirlooms and native wildflowers. Stroll through the seemingly endless rows of colorful plants and discover new varieties you never even knew existed or join the nursery for one of their plant talks with local experts, covering a wide range of subjects from butterflies to berries.
Sign up for their “Most Excellent Newsletter for Flower Floozies” to be informed of dates for their flower-filled parties replete with free snacks, music, garden talks, face painting and more.
Sign up for Sloat Garden Center’s free rewards program and attend no-cost seminars at their Pleasant Hill location like “Fall is for Planting Basics for the Beginner” or “Learn to Care for Indoor Plants 101”. Other classes may have a fee, but as a rewards member, you’ll receive a discount.
Their Make-and-Take workshops will send you home with completed projects like a succulent filled pumpkin or an herb and greens window box. Garden got you stumped? Ask their Gardening Guru or check the archives to see if someone else had the same question. Sloat’s monthly calendar for the Bay Area garden will let you know when it’s time to plant, prune and fertilize, while their blog contains information about sales and goings-on.
Don’t have a garden of your own, but want to get your hands dirty? Apply for membership to the Lafayette Community Garden. Working members are asked to contribute six hours a month, attend a Saturday morning meeting and engage in one team or committee in addition to the membership fee.
Reap the benefits in fruits, veggies and use of the garden’s pizza oven and enjoy their annual Harvest Fest. And, finally, if you want to get your garden on - while helping local schools - most of the schools have gardens that are always hungry for volunteers!
The Rock and the Hard Place
You’ve got everything in the ground and the garden looks spectacular, but something is missing. Need a layer of mulch, or a couple paving stones leading out to your hammock? Locally owned Diamond K on Mt. Diablo Boulevard in Lafayette can fulfill many of your hardscaping needs. Call or visit for information on paving stones, gravel, fencing and drainage supplies or to find out about delivery options.
Want to wander among the stones to find the perfect boulder for the garden or just the right travertine for your outdoor kitchen? American Soil has a huge inventory of materials to choose from at their location in Richmond. Pick up a couple bags of mulch or decomposed granite or have them deliver your limestone pavers right to your home.
Nearby Acapulco Rock and Soil has a large selection of stone, gravel and bark and carries sod as well, all of which can be delivered.
The garden is planted, the flowers are blooming, and the veggies will soon be ripe. Bees are buzzing in the lavender while hummingbirds sip from the camelias. It’s time to grab a glass of wine, sit back, and enjoy the fruits of your outdoor labor with family and friends.