Authentic, sustainable landscaping can produce priceless positive impacts for human and pet health, the environment, and public infrastructure. It also impacts our budgets! Lush, leafy, low-water authentic native gardens generate significant savings over a traditional landscape, gravel/xeriscape, or synthetic lawn.

Savings can include:

  • 100 percent of the annual flower budget
  • 100 percent of the toxic chemical fertilizer budget
  • 100 percent of the toxic chemical pesticide budget
  • 100 percent of soil amendment budget
  • 81 percent of the time spent on maintenance
  • 75 percent or more of the funds used for mower petrol
  • 60-80 percent of the water previously needed
  • 63 percent of fees associated with garden waste
  • 15-50 percent of the energy dedicated to climate control

When authentic landscapes beautify common spaces they have been shown to improve nearby property values, increase foot traffic and sales in commercial spaces, and cool our communities. Read More

Impacts are even greater when the spaces improved include schools. The same choices that save us time, money and water at home can also set our kids up for success at school. Many of the problems students face are amplified by the built environment, and they can be mitigated by the addition of lush and leafy garden space. In addition to providing beautiful places to play, teach, and learn, school gardens can:


Reduce Asthma and allergies: Sustainable landscapes reduce the incidence of asthma and allergies, which can be visible in school nurse visits and attendance.

Mitigate Stress: Visual and experiential access to verdant landscapes have been shown to reduce ADHD, increase focus and concentration, and facilitate stress resilience, even in those already experiencing PTSD.

Facilitate Play and Activity: Studies show garden renovation alone increases play and activity levels, but the type of playspace also matters. Children have experienced heat exhaustion playing on synthetic turf installed to save water at other LAUSD schools. In contrast with synthetics and other hardscape options, native landscapes cool spaces for play and introduce no toxins.

Reduce Obesity: In addition to increasing activity levels, the combination of edible gardens and nutrition-related curriculum increases children’s preference for healthy foods while increasing the availability of those foods.

Reduce Conflict: Green landscaping at schools has been tied to reduced vandalism, theft, and other crimes. It has also been shown to lessen in-classroom conflicts between students and teachers and between students. (Summary)

While verdant, natural space has been shown to benefit all people regardless of ages and incomes, there is evidence its impact is greater in low-income areas. Likewise, improvements to school spaces are more impactful than those in other community spaces or private gardens. More Information


This site began as a resource to support 2016 Greenbuild Conference and Expo attendees registered to tour authentic Los Angeles gardens.  The site originally featured three public gardens:  The New Look for LA at Descanso Gardens, The Authentic Foothill Gardens at Sierra Madre City Hall, and The (Drought Tolerant) Gardens of the World at La Canada Library, as well as an award-winning residential garden.

Now that Greenbuild has moved on, we hope this site can continue to serve the green building community and Los Angeles.  To that end, we’ve added more authentic gardens to the site, including the Senator Carol Liu Legacy Garden at Pinewood Elementary and the Sustainable Innovation award-winning Santa Monica Conservancy Shotgun House Coastal Garden, the City of Sierra Madre’s Authentic Foothill Gardens. We’ve also added resources for those hoping to create authentic gardens of their own.

We are hopeful this site, and the public gardens themselves, continue to generate understanding of  LA’s authentic, lush, leafy, low-water aesthetic and how it can save our beloved city, inspiring greater ecological, economic and social resilience.


Cassy Aoyagi, FormLA Landscaping