We live in the SanJoaquin valley (CA).  There are four redwood trees and an oak, well spaced in front of a fench across the back of our lot.  I would like to plant some things to create more interest between and behind the trees.  Grasses, flowering shrubs, perenials?  What would work?
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I live west of Sacramento.  How about some half wine barrels nearest the oak as planting unsder them and therefore having to water can be hazardous to their health.

You can plant annuals in the barrels and go for seasonal color that way.

Under the redwoods you could try somwething like Chinese Fringe Flower, Lorapetulum.  It has a nice hot pink flower that resembles a firecracker.  Mine flowers in the winter.  My neighbor has Dietes under her redwood and they take no care at all.  In fact they might do well in the ground under your oak too.  Carpet roses might do well under thw redwoods if you canopy is high enough to allow some light.  I'd say at least 4 feet off the ground for anything.
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