The drought in California isn’t going away anytime soon. It has been a staple of this region prior to any human inhabitants, and it’s about time the people who choose to live here take some consideration in incorporating more native, drought resistant plants into their home landscaping.
There is a rise in the number of people cementing off their lawns and painting the cement or replacing their lawn with artificial grasses. Both of these options do eliminate the need to water, but both are not the much better for you. Replacing a lawn with cement only creates more surface area for the sun to heat and will make being outside excessively hot. Covering a lawn with artificial grasses is good for people who really don’t want the maintenance of a lawn, but need to have that lawn look for lounging or playing sports. But their are many cases against the real looking artificial blades of toxic grass. The fake turf is made generally of rubber, but also lead and other chemicals that are not good to run barefoot through. when it rains and water actually comes into contact with the turf, these chemicals run off into the soil and surrounding areas. Also, animal leavings and other bacterias don’t drain through it as well as real grass so it can be real unhealthy. It even heats up quickly like concrete, so it’s not much better than the first option.
Southern California is a special place to live, and we have a rich biodiverse region with plenty of native options for our landscape choices. Here are a few examples of what could be planted in the South Bay area.
Artemisia californica, (California sagebrush) It is one of the most widely distributed of the coastal sage brush plants, and stands between two to five feet tall, making it one of the tallest shrubs too. this does well in coastal sage scrub areas like the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
Eriogonum parvifolium, (sea cliff buckwheat) This short plant does well in coastal/dune sandy areas like PV and beach cities. This plant is also the primary food source of the endangered El Segundo Blue Butterfly.
Isomeris arborea, (bladderpod) The shrub gets to be about 4 ft. high, and loves to be in bluff environments.
Acmispon glaber, (deerweed) This low bushy shrub does well in coastal regions, and is abundant in areas shortly after a wild fire passes through.
Chamissonia cheiranthifolia, (beach primrose) It is a flowering, drought tolerant plant that does well in beach dune soils and was adopted by Manhattan Beach as the city flower.
Abronia maritima, (red-sand verbena) and Abronia umbrellata, (pink-sand verbena) These are variations of a flowering beach succulent that mainly only grow in protected areas, but does well in dune soils.
Atriplex lentiformis breweri, (brewer’s salt bush) This is a tall (8ft) evergreen shrub that can live off of about 5 to 10 inches of rainfall a year in very poor quality soil. It can grow most anywhere in the LA basin.
Mirabilis laeris, (wishbone-bush) and Mirabilis multiflora, (CA four o’clock) Are small perennials that are more common to deserts, but like rocky soils and require very little water.
Salvia Leucantha, (midnight mexican sage) There are many sages that are more local to our region, but this pretty purple flowering sage grows taller than most of our native sages and requires very little water.
These are only a few of the drought tollerant, non-invasive, and mostly local plant that could be used instead of a water wasteful lawn. It is a colorful, unique and healthy alternative to conserve water without having to remove plants completely. There are many other options available out there, just check the labels on the pots at local nurseries for more drought resistant plants.