Time to Go Native!

Source: http://www.julieorrdesign.com/the-advantages-of-going-native-in-your-garden/
Source: http://www.julieorrdesign.com/the-advantages-of-going-native-in-your-garden/

If not now, then when?

It is official, everyone in California must cut back his/her water use.  The 25% cut the Governor is requiring of all urban water agencies statewide immediately can’t be met by depending on somebody else.  It’s you and me, not our neighbors.

The reason for  the cutback is not just partisan spin.  Each of us knows that it hasn’t rained much over the last 7 years, except for that fluke of an atmospheric river in December 2010.  Last summer, our landscaping didn’t really thrive, because the soil moisture reservoir in our own backyards never got replenished in Winter/Spring 2014.  It definitely never got replenished in Winter 2015.  So, now here we are preparing to let our lawns dry up and our English gardens to die, only two weeks into Spring.  Just wait until August rolls around.

What can we do?  Act like natives!

No.  Not showering with friends. Not using your toilet water to wash your car.  Not replanting your lawn with cannabis.  Not even standing in a bucket during your shower.  That’s not what real California natives do.  That’s just what Texans think Californian natives do.

The natives I’m referring to are the California Native Plants.

Native groundcover
Native groundcover

Think about it.  They thrive in a land where rainfall varies from nothing to too much, most years barely scraping by.  When water is plentiful, they deepen their root systems and spread out their branches.  When it’s dry, they pull back their leaves and hunker down until it rains again. Sometimes it can take multiple years waiting for the next growth cycle.  But, they always survive even the driest of years and stick around to flourish again.

We can do the same if we use those very plants in our landscapes.  Plant and grow during the wet times and wait out the dry times.  But, always come back to flourish again.

It may be too late in this drought cycle to plant native plants, because it takes water to get them started.  But, as soon as it rains sufficiently again, we should all be making a commitment to only plant natives as we replace our dying thirsty plants.  We probably don’t need to pull out those water guzzlers.  It will probably just happen automatically as we are forced to cut back our outdoor usage.  But, when we replant, let’s use those beautiful natives that are becoming more and more available in our neighborhood stores.

There is strong evidence that our climate in California is becoming warmer, and drier.  Regardless of one’s position on climate change, manmade or not, California, especially Southern California, has always been semi-arid.  It’s time to embrace our nature, not just succumb to it.  Even with just population growth in our magnificent state, water is going to be harder to find in dry times.  So let’s weather it out just like the plants by using only California native plants.

Sure, our landscape will change in character when we change to natives, but it doesn’t have to look like Las Vegas or Phoenix, as some suggest.  It should simply look like California!

So, go native!