CALIFORNIA NATIVE LANDSCAPE DESIGN
A CASE FOR CALIFORNIA NATIVE PLANTS
"Designing cutting-edge suburban landscapes utilizing California native plants" is
more than a hip new slogan. It is an idea whose time has come! Once relegated to the realm of the niche market, it
is now rapidly ascending to the forefront of public consciousness where it is promising to take its logical and
The idea of the California native plant garden is not new. In 1891, Theodore Payne recognized the intrinsic value of the designed native garden with its promise
to attract beneficial garden-friendly wildlife, and to conserve precious natural resources, when he saw a large
display of California native plants at The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew in England. The premise of developed gardens and landscapes
being aligned with the ecosystem they were to be implemented within made perfect sense to him.
This premise today is supported with more relevant data than ever before. With legislation pending in Sacramento, dwindling water resources a stark reality, and native plant
communities, such as our coastal sage scrub, dangerously depleted, making a case for designing California native
landscapes and gardens is now imperative.
It is a common (and understandable) misconception that California native plants are esthetically unfit for
suburban garden and landscape applications. Most people think of dry hills covered with brown sage brush and dead
weeds left over from winter rains. The fact of the matter is, there are select nurseries located throughout the
state of California that propagate native plant species specifically to grow—and flourish—in suburban landscapes
with a fraction of the water required to sustain a landscape stocked with thirsty, imported species. Many of these
native varieties are evergreen, look great year round, are adaptable to soil and micro-climate variations, and are
perfectly suited for use in the suburban garden.
California native plants also have a longer life span than your traditional nursery cultivars, (commonly used
varieties can live from 40 to 200+ years) and have less need for fertilizer, insecticides, and pesticides. They
have increased aroma, drought tolerance and require far less maintenance all but eliminating the need for noisy,
gas-powered, polluting yard maintenance equipment.
California natives, with few exceptions, are disease free and restore much needed natural habitat to dwindling
populations of animals whose breeding grounds, sources of food and water, and protective cover have been polluted
and destroyed by decades of unchecked, rampant development and urban sprawl.
A California native garden has much more to offer than mere esthetics. Emulating native plant communities, while
employing traditional design elements and principles, coupled with the return of native fauna, offers homeowners
throughout the state a deeper relationship with their gardens.
Invite change into your garden, discover the essence of authentic California, and join me in restoring a
sense of regional identity to a suburban setting that has forgotten the unique, natural beauty of our state.