Designing Beautiful Landscapes That Last: Noe Valley, San Francisco

Noe Valley garden

Noe Valley garden

Over the past 32 years since Tamate Landscaping first opened its doors, we’ve designed and built hundreds of gardens. We’ve built Japanese gardens and koi ponds, Tiki bar-type outdoor lounge areas and backyard landscapes with sports motifs. But no matter what the design is, the size of the space or the needs of the client, the best landscapes are those with the right plants for the area. For San Francisco, “the right area” could be the next neighbor over from you, or the difference between the Mission and Dolores Heights.  

For sun-loving plants that flourish in warmer weather, Noe Valley is such a place. Once a rock quarry, the neighborhood has turned into an upscale family area with row houses and single homes. Classic Victorian stands next to Edwardian homes on hilly streets that everyone walks, enjoying the sun much the same way the plants do.

You might think, “Well, it’s all San Francisco weather. What’s the difference?” There are a lot of differences, actually. Thanks to being close to Twin Peaks, which partially block the Pacific winds and fog, Noe Valley gets an extra dosing of warm, and a little less fog. For the plants, that could mean the difference between thriving or limping along.

Deerweed is an example. This perennial, which produces little yellow flowers in the spring and summer, would thrive near the coast. They may not do as well, however, just a few miles away near Holly Park.

The Green Connection in Noe Valley

So, if you live in Noe Valley, what plants would flourish in your backyard?  

Indian Paintbrush

Native San Franciscans, Indian Paintbrush perennials are short plants that only grow 1 – 3 3 feet tall. In the spring and summer, the green leaves burst into a riot of bright red, white, orange, pink and yellow tips, depending on the variety. The color on the leave tips is what gives them the name “paintbrush,” as it looks like the leaves have been dipped in paint.

They thrive in gardens with other plants, have low water requirements after the first year and love sun. As a bonus, they attract the Chalcedon Checkerspot, a black and white spotted butterfly with red highlights on its wings.

Spice bush

A hardy shrub, the spice bush is classified as an evergreen shrub. It grows between 7 and 12 feet, which makes a good backdrop behind other plants. It’s considered an ornamental plant and produces spicy, sweet blooms in the summer that range from dark red to burgundy to purple brown in color.

Although the spice bush can do well in shade, full sun really brings out the bright colors of the plant. Birds and butterflies alike like the plant, giving you the enjoyment of native wildlife throughout the year.

Miner’s Lettuce

For shade-loving ground cover with a little kick, look no further than Miner’s Lettuce. This bright green ground cover curls like little cups, carefully holding the delicate pink and white flowers that bloom in the spring and winter. While Miner’s Lettuce needs some sun, it’s happier in partially sunny areas, and doesn’t grow more than a foot tall. Mourning Doves and California Quail love to hide in the green carpet, so expect to hear them in your garden.

Blue Fescue

Blue Fescue is another plant that thrives in Noe Valley. Although it’s not a native, having come from Europe, it does well in the climate.  Blue, silver and white flowering grass, it blooms light green, purple-tinged flowers in the summer.  

Blue Fescue grows in short puffs of silvery-blue, and really stands out next to ground cover in pebbles. It makes an excellent choice for Japanese-flavored gardens with water and stone features.


There’s nothing so disheartening as having a landscape put in according to your specifications, only to find the plants dying off or becoming thin, weak specimens. The microclimate of Noe Valley supports over 300 different plants, both native and exotic, natural and ornamental. Build a garden that you can really enjoy, with plants that will thrive in your garden.

Speak to a landscape contractor that knows what will work best in your area. Contact Tamate Landscaping to discuss your landscape project from the start. We can help you make sure that the plants in your garden will provide joy year round.

Paintbrush Images:
Monterey Paintbrush: By pellaea – originally uploaded to Flickr as Monterey Paintbrush,
CC BY 2.0
Wight’s Paintbrush: By a13ean – Own work,
CC BY-SA 3.0
Franciscan Paintbrush: By Tom Hilton – originally posted to Flickr as Franciscan Paintbrush,
CC BY 2.0

Spice Bush: By Scott from USA – Calycanthus occidentalis 1c.jpg, CC BY 2.0

Miner’s Lettuce: S. Rae from Scotland, UK [CC BY 2.0

Blue Fescue: Tamate Landscaping


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