Gardening in James City County

If you are interested in gardening as a hobby, looking for information about environmental best practices and local native plants, or turning your yard into the oasis you deserve, you have come to the right place!

Water Wise Gardens

Water wise gardens use a variety of drought tolerant plants, ground covers and mulch to conserve water. The guiding principles are to design for water efficiency, enhance the soil, select the right plants for the right place, and use low impact hand tools.

In 2003, James City County worked with the JCC Master Gardener Association to establish the Water Wise Low Maintenance Demonstration Garden. It is located at the entrance of the JCC Human Services Center at 5249 Olde Towne Rd. Master gardeners design, plant and maintain the garden. If you or your organization are interested in a tour of the garden or want additional information about water wise and low maintenance gardens, email the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator or email the Master Gardener project leaders for this garden."

Water Wise Garden

Pollinator Gardens

Pollinator gardens provide a lush habitat with nectar and pollen attracting bees, beetles, butterflies, bats, moths, birds and other beneficial critters, which transfer pollen as they forage. In addition to their contribution to plant reproduction, pollinators play a crucial role in ecological food webs and the global economy.

In 2021, the Clean County Commission worked with Master Gardeners to plant a Pollinator Garden at Veteran’s Park. Volunteers can sign up to help maintain the garden throughout the year (watch training video) or help during spring and fall plantings.  If you or your organization are interested in creating a pollinator garden, email the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator. 


Native Plants

Why Native Plants? Native plants are best for pollinators, as native plants and pollinators have evolved together to adapt to the local soil, climate and growing season. Once established, native plants require minimal care and resources. In addition to providing essential food and habitat for local wildlife, native plants prevent erosion and improve water quality. Here is a comprehensive list of recommended native plants for James City County.

Rain Gardens 

A rain garden is designed to capture and filter rainwater that flows off hard surfaces like roadways, driveways, parking lots and rooftops. A shallow basin is planted with deep-rooted native wildflowers, grasses and shrubs that filter and absorb stormwater runoff and the pollutants it carries. Their extensive root systems filter stormwater runoff by removing nutrients, sediments and pollutants before it enters our groundwater and waterways. Visit here to learn more about building a Rain Garden.

Rain Barrels

To keep your garden thriving you will need water! Efficient water use is becoming increasingly important in the County. The James City Service Authority (JCSA) is the largest water utility in Virginia that is primarily reliant on groundwater, making water conservation a critical step to meet our future water needs and preserve this limited natural resource. The JSCA offers rebates for water conservation, including a $25 rebate for installing a rain barrel. 

James City County partners with to host “Make Your Own Rain Barrel” workshops. For a small fee, residents get all the necessary supplies and hands-on instruction. Read here to learn how to make a DYI rain barrel at home. 

Turf Love 

The Turf Love program is a cooperation between the County, the Stormwater and Resource Protection Division, the Colonial Soil and Water Conservation District (CSWCD), and Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Master Gardeners. The purpose of the cooperation is to educate the public on how to care for lawns in a way that limits impacts on the environment. A Lawn Ranger will visit your home, do a soil test to get your soil’s make up and provide you with a plan on how to improve your lawn in an environmentally friendly way. For more information, please visit the CSWCD website. 

Our friends at have a Yard & Landscaping page, with resources about best practices, living shorelines, pool maintenance, native plants and more! 


Other Resources