Ecological Horticulture
by diana nicole

Naturalistic Home Garden Designs and Plantings 

Ecological horticulturist, Diana Nicole, shares her inspiring and ecologically sound vision for home gardens that mimic the natural spaces we covet, such as California’s oak woodlands and grasslands.  She has never been hemmed in by contrived, formal, high-maintenance landscapes, seeking instead to liberate landscapes by undoing many of the expensive mistakes we’ve made in our yards in the past. 

After transplanting to Los Angeles, Diana converted her impoverished alien urban-suburban yard to integrate with the native landscape around her home.  Her entire yard takes up less than a tenth of an acre, yet includes good food and habitat for songbirds, butterflies and mammals.  The hope was that her yard might influence the neighbors.  

Diana believes that if the larger landscape of LA yards were to be reshaped this way, as much as half of Los Angeles could be returned to wildlife, and, by restoring the ecology of our own yards, we could capture tons of carbon, clean the air, save water, save money and maybe our sanity.  As with Rachel Carson, Diana’s vision contains a larger environmental ethic to help people protect the environment naturally.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the Los Angeles Audubon Society and is the horticulture advisor to the Neighborhood Council Sustainability Alliance Trees Committee.  In her imaginary free time, Diana writes and speaks about garden politics, ecological horticulture,  biodiversity, and nature-based projects. Prior to all this, Diana spent over two decades managing and caring for for over 10,000 acres of private and public landscapes including property owned by The Walt Disney Company.  She lives with her husband, Greg, their 4 rescue parrots, and shares her urban-suburban yard with dozens of native bird and butterfly species, a colony of native ground squirrels, coyotes, owls, and the occasional bobcat.  

why naturalistic garden design is worth it

  1. The way we landscape and manage our yards is harming Earth and our well-being.
  2. Naturalistic gardens are unique and beautiful. 
  3. Naturally low-maintenance.  Naturalistic gardens save time and money because they work with natural systems instead of against them.   

If a tree dies in your yard and no one is around to make it fall, does it make a sound?  Yes!  The sound of chicks peeping, birds singing, animals scurrying.

Most people know exactly what a snag is, even if they don’t know it by that name. A snag is simply a standing dead or partially-dead tree. While some people may view them as hazardous or untidy, snags are actually quite important to wildlife. Many animals make their homes in or on snags, including birds, bats, small mammals, snakes, and invertebrates. Snags are extremely important structural elements for wildlife, and may make up the entire habitat of some creatures, like insects. They quickly become favored nesting spots for birds, preferred perches for raptors. There is always something happening at the snags

Angelenos lead the nation in the creativity and diversity of our architecture, our fashion, our tech. 

So, why do we continue to have fine lawns and groomed shrubbery spaced unnaturally far apart in a desperate attempt to look like one another?  To look like suburban Ohio?  We can do better! 

There are additional negative consequences that come with a city full of exotic plants already laced with pesticides from the big box stores.

We encourage homeowners to loosen up their landscape. Be less worried about neat and tidy, and embrace our native plants. Let go of the tidy exotic garden a little bit and the butterflies and birds will come! 

There are few plants more visually arresting in a shady garden when grouped together than California native coral bells. I find this aesthetic an optimally compelling complement to natural and classic landscapes. 

Coral bells produce delightful blooms that brighten up any shady area. The blooms featured here are a favorite food source for hummingbirds and the foliage stays green year round.


If all you need is some guidance to help you with a small project or to  spend a small budget wisely, an hourly phone consultation may be just what you’re looking for. 


Please email me some information about your project or goals and we’ll move forward from there.