Drought-busting: Why to Plant Natives?

Drought-busting: Why to Plant Natives?

The drought here in California — we’ve received less than 8 inches of rain here in Redlands —  is encouraging much discussion on how to reduce water usage. I’ve written a lot about our use of California natives in our landscaping so I want to reference some of my popular articles on why they’re a great solution.

First, a quick review of why to choose natives (which applies wherever you live):

  • Replace what we’ve lost: Here in Southern California, a mosaic of chaparral, sage scrub, grasslands, and riparian corridors have been lost to our sprawling population. One study predicts loses of as many as 2/3rds of California’s endemic species by 2100. The prickly pear cactus and the beautiful monkey-flower are two species at most risk. In the Midwest, it’s the native prairie — and the many species it historically nurtured and have now lost — that has been so impacted.

    Monkeyflower with dark star ceanothus behind in our front yard

    Monkeyflower with dark star ceanothus behind it in our front yard

  • Natives do well here – most live! Being endemic, what can best survive an extended drought? (here in So California we have eight, sometimes 9 mo of no rainfall)
  • Habitat value: Provides cycle of life for local wildlife.

“Every time we plant an introduced plant, we are reducing the local insect population and thus depriving birds and other wildlife of the food they need to survive and reproduce. – D. Tallamy and K. J Shropshire, Conservation Biology, 2009

Here are some of my more popular articles on natives: 

1. Our conversion to low-water landscaping

2. Our Vital Pollinators: Birds, Bats, Bees and Butterflies

3.  Medicinal and Edible California Natives

4. California Native Plants: Favorites of Two Residents

5. Using Low Water Grasses for Your Lawn

6. Favorite Natives in the Midwest/East

…I also have descriptions of favorite natives ( click on the ‘Favorite Native Plants’ category in the upper right column)

About Linda Richards

My goal is to educate about the science of nature in layperson speak, through my writing, science and education background. I grew up in the Chicago area, loved living in Minneapolis before gravitating to the West, which is now home.


  1. Alex Castaneda says:

    Are there any landscape companies in San Bernardino county that uses rebates towards
    water saving landscapes? There is a company in L.A. called “Turf Cutters” that does that. Please advise or direct me. Thank you.

    • I’m not aware of any but don’t know. Best bet is to get the rebate through your city – I know Redlands has one for converting but you need to start the process before you remove the current landscape. Most other cities have them too. Good luck…

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