Native Curb Appeal
The recent rain showers and warm weather have brought spring into full bloom in southern California. This past weekend I thought what better way to view California wildflowers then to tour drought tolerant native gardens in Los Angeles during the annual Theodore Payne Foundation’s California Native Plant Garden Tour.
Walking through front and backyards of homes from Santa Monica to Mid City, I was taken aback by the fragrant display of flowers (Salvia and California strawberry were my favorite) and the legions of hummingbirds and butterflies. Whether you’re an avid organic gardener or busy home owner, planting native plants have multiple benefits.
Native vegetation is perfectly adapted for our climate. Because native plants, once established, can require minimal irrigation, maintenance, and chemical treatments, native landscaping offers substantial savings and environmental benefits compared to grass lawns. Native landscaping also provides habitat to native birds and pollinators.
The water savings from switching from a grass to native plants is no joke either. Replacing a 1,000 square foot lawn with drought tolerant plants can drop your monthly water bill by $60 in Los Angeles, and to sweeten the deal right now the City of Los Angeles is handing out $2 per square-foot to residents who remove their turf.
Water conservation isn’t the only water benefit, though. Stormwater runoff can cause many serious problems that incur real costs to communities, including flooding, pollution and groundwater deficiencies. Reducing stormwater runoff helps keeps our waterways and ocean clean and recharge our groundwater basins, storing much needed water for later use. Native landscaping in the form of rain gardens and bioswales provides cost efficient ways to capture and retain rainwater onsite. Another way to turn rainwater into a resource is to direct it into rain barrels for irrigation use later.
Want to be inspired by some native plant landscaping? The 6th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase on Saturday April 26, 2014 is a free event that highlights sustainable, drought-resistant and native landscapes.
Already thinking outside of the yard? If you know of an unused or underutilized spot perfect for a native landscaping and stormwater capture project Los Angeles Department of Water Power wants to know about it. LADWP is developing a Stormwater Capture Master Plan for the city and is requesting suggestions on project locations from the public. Follow instructions to submit suggestions by April 16th here.
-Lara Meeker, Watershed Program Manager