I like green grass but the grass had turned scraggly in our front yard and portions were hard to maintain, partly because of the protected California oak trees. We talked about changing the lawn into a drought tolerant landscape but I was hesitant. The first lawns I saw about two years ago looked like scattered dried leaves and there was no aesthetic value.
That's changed. Drought tolerant lawns have turned into inviting designs and allow for a range of color and creativity. There are plants that flower in the spring and those that flower in late summer and fall. Pathways create designs and make the space inviting.
California Native Plant Week is April 11 – 19 as posted on the California Native Plant Society (CNPS) website.
We're getting ready to landscape our front lawn and we took a trip to the Theodore Payne Foundation nursery in Sun Valley, just north of Burbank. The foundation began in 1960 and has available "hundreds of different species and cultivars, many of which are drought tolerant and low maintenance," as noted on the website.
The foundation is tucked away in a residential neighborhood. Sun Valley is an example of where a rural lifestyle collides with urban sprawl. Homes around the foundation have large lots with some having horses grazing.
At the foundation, plants are grouped by size, like shrubs or small tress that can grow to eight feet high and six feet wide, and by hardiness like those that do best in shade.
Don't expect low prices with many one-gallon varieties costing around $8. The foundation is instructive and it's a lifestyle for the dozens of volunteers who carry plants from one place to another and help shoppers load up.
Between the Theodore Payne Foundation and the California Native Plant Society Website, you'll have a good understanding of how native plants can be a smart and attractive choice for a front lawn or back lawn.
Here are 3Ps of gardening thanks to CNPS:
- Plant local – use local plants
- Plant light – group plants based on water and sun requirements and space properly
- Plant well – include plants that attract bees, butterflies, and other native pollinators
For those of you who like color, California natives are not bold like annuals but they do have colors and variegated shades that turn a landscape into an attractive setting.