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.
- 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
- Savings, especially lower water – The native vs. traditional landscape ‘Garden-Garden’ project in Santa Monica showed 83% less water than the traditional, ½ the green waste and cut maintenance by more than half.
Here are some of my more popular articles on natives:
- Our conversion to low-water landscaping
- Our Vital Pollinators: Birds, Bats, Bees and Butterflies
- Medicinal and Edible California Natives
- California Native Plants: Favorites of Two Residents
- Using Low Water Grasses for Your Lawn
- Favorite Natives in the Midwest/East
…I also have descriptions of favorite natives (click on the ‘Favorite Native Plants‘ category)