Living the San Francisco Dream


Gardening in a thirsty state: trees on Jackson Street, San Francisco

Gardening in a thirsty state like California creates unique challenges, but also encourages and allows for some beautiful results.

Take, for instance, the street trees along this block of Jackson Street in the Pacific Heights area of San Francisco. I believe they are a type of Arbutus, and take very little watering. Birds are attracted to the fruit and clusters of small greenish white flowers that appear in fall and winter.

arbutus trees along Jackson Street, SF

One of the unique beauties of the trees, like their cousins the California native madrone trees, is the beauty of the bark.

shreddy bark of arbutus trees

Lush green lawns and weeping willow trees have their own beauty, but it's not a beauty suited to our Mediterranean climes. Luckily, there are equally beautiful plants for us to enjoy here, while saving our dwindling water supply.


--- Come for a visit; Stay for a lifetime!

Lottie Kendall, Realtor®


CA DRE#10215160; 650-465-4547

Peninsula Living Business Page



Comment balloon 14 commentsLottie Kendall • February 22 2014 10:11AM


Saving water is top priority for all of California right now. Thanks for the post and the beutiful pictures of these trees not needing that much water.

Posted by Les & Sarah Oswald, Broker, Realtor and Investor (Realty One Group) over 6 years ago

Hi Sarah and Lester - this is the 3rd, and worse, drought I've lived through in California as an adult. It's really time for us to think how we use water, and make choices so not to squander it. I'll be writing more about this issue.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 6 years ago

Gardening with native species makes so much sense. Trying to plant wet crops in dry spots is insane on several levels. Much more work for the gardener, and the depletion of precious natural resources. Good blog Lottie. 

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) over 6 years ago

That is a pretty unique looking tree.  I don't remember those from when I was in San Francisco, but I guess I just wasn't looking.

Posted by Scott Larson, Park City, Utah Real Estate News (BHHS/Utah Properties) over 6 years ago

You nailed it, Debb!

Scott, if you hike in our coastal hills, you'll spot madrone trees with the similar shaggy bark and multi-colored trunks--beautiful trees, and well-suited to our climate.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 6 years ago

Lottie, They are talking about planting trees in the new park and trail in Blossom Valley. I cannot believe they are even talking about planting trees in this drought.

Posted by Kathleen Daniels, Probate & Trust Specialist, Probate Real Estate (KD Realty - 408.972.1822) over 6 years ago

Lottie - Trees are an enrichment to our day-to-day lives, not to mention we need them for all of the good things they do for our air supply.  I like that this type of tree takes very little water to survive!  So many things to see and appreciate in San Francisco!

Posted by Laura Allen, Lake Tahoe - Truckee Real Estate for Sale, Tahoe Real Estate Agent Helping Buyers and Sellers (Coldwell Banker, Tahoe City, CA (530) 414-1260) over 6 years ago

I agree, Kathleen. They would be wiser to plan for the trees--choosing trees that don't take much water when established--but wait to actually plant then until after this crisis is behind us.

Laura, in San Francisco the Friends of the Urban Forest work to encourage property owners to plant street trees, often paying for and planting the trees with grants.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 6 years ago

Lottie, an excellent post. We are in a drought here in the Phoenix area as well. And while we don't like to talk about it, we are incredibly wasteful with our water and the truth is our long term survival is dependent upon our ability to manage and conserve our water supply.

Posted by Nancy Laswick, Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun (United Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Good morning Lottie. For those gardener enthusiast, it has to be pretty tough with the lack of rain. Hopefully these conditions will change in your state.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) over 6 years ago

Nancy, the same is true here. It's so easy to be wasteful, after a while one doesn't even realize that's what is happening.

Joe, this drought crisis will pass, but the need for awareness and ending carelessness won't.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 6 years ago

Lottie, what an interesting tree, and looks like it SHEDS with the winter season.   

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) over 6 years ago

Creative plantings may be better than grass in many areas that may not even have water supply problems.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) over 6 years ago

Joan, these trees are lovely; bark shreds year round, leaving smooth-to-the-touch multi-colored trunks. Little white bell-shaped flowers and round red "fruits" attract birds and add more visual beauty.

Roy, agreed. And planning a garden with shrubs, perennials, small trees, a spot to sit and read -- delightful, private, and birds and butterflies come to visit.

Posted by Lottie Kendall, Helping make your real estate dreams a reality (Compass) over 6 years ago