Garden tour shows south Orange County homeowners how to adopt a native alternative


For Laguna Niguel homeowners Luke and Mary Burson, the best way to go green is to go brown.

They’ve ditched an American standard set for suburbias nationwide — the green front lawn — for mulch chips, white-rock swales, on-trend succulents, and plants native to the area, putting it on display Saturday, April 13 as one of eight homes featured in a garden tour hosted by Moulton Niguel Water District.

The district serves Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Mission Viejo, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano.

“If the only person who walks on the grass is the guy that mows it, why do you have grass?” Luke Burson said, crediting the philosophical token to a workshop he attended at the water district’s office. “And that’s when it hit me.”

The tour promoted a two-year-old, publicly funded program, NatureScape, which provides residential homeowners with the tools — workshops, discounts, rebates, in-house experts — to retrofit their front lawns into native landscapes.

Since inception, 115 residents have applied for the NatureScape program and 36 gardens have been installed.

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