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The Practical Benefits of Our Approach to Native Gardens

 The most distinguishing characteristic of our approach to native gardens is that they require no irrigation. In fact, once the plants are established the gardens require no watering at all.  This is achieved by focusing on the use of native plants that are local to our area; that is, those plants which have evolved here over thousands of years and which thrive “on their own” through the five to six month period when there is no rain.  Simply put, we use plants that belong here. The simplicity of an approach based on the use of local native plants yields numerous advantages both to the garden owner and to the environment.

From an economic point of view, there are clear benefits of our approach compared to standard gardens. Clients for whom we have replaced lawns with local native plants have reduced their water use by up to 60%, as reflected in their water bill. In addition, a salient economic advantage is the one-time savings that follows from the absence of the need to install an irrigation system, which reduces up-front costs significantly. The ultimate economic payoff is that after the locals are established, the only water needed is provided by the rain for free.

The economic benefits of this approach extend to garden maintenance because local native plants are low maintenance. This means they require less work, saving you either time or money for the cost of labor. Since they are low maintenance, no machines (and thus no gas or electricity) are needed for mowing, trimming, or for blowing leafs around. An additional savings is that nothing need be added to the soil for the health of the garden. No fertilizers or soil additives are needed for natives at all.  

Each of the above economic benefits to the garden owner is reflected in benefits to the environment on a larger scale. The most apparent relates to the increasing shortage of water in our region, as well as in the southwest US in general. In light of these shortages and the likelihood of their increase in the future, the fact that the majority of all residential water use in California is for outdoor landscapes becomes increasingly irrational with respect to the conservation of natural resources.  Thankfully this point is gradually being understood by local governments across the southwest. For example, in San Diego County there are rebates available for the cost of replacing lawns with plants that require less water.

In addition, the common use of garden additives mentioned above is increasingly understood as an environmental hazard. During the rainy season (as well as from runoff created by overwatering) whatever chemicals have been added to lawns/yards can wash away, reaching storm drains which empty into the bottom of our natural canyon areas. This “polluted” water adversely affects the nutritional and chemical balance of a number of environs downstream from our gardens, and eventually ends up in and adversely affects the health of the ocean. This form of pollution is compounded by the exhaust from mechanical tools commonly used for standard garden maintenance, which adds to air pollution, is an unnecessary waste of energy, and creates noise pollution as well, as is evident to anyone who has tried working at a desk while a leaf blower is in use.

Native gardens can help with each of the environmental issues above, which issues affect the quality of our lives directly or indirectly. They provide a meaningful alternative to traditional lawns, with their endless cycle of watering, fertilizing, mowing – watering, fertilizing, mowing. Moreover, native gardens not only contribute to the environment through avoiding the wasteful habits of the past, they also make direct, unique positive contributions, many of which derive from their ability to become self-sustaining. For example, by providing better food and homes for native birds, bees, butterflies, and lizards, our native gardens embed us in the complex of relations between all members of our environment. In the sections below, we turn to the less tangible benefits which come with our being connected to the world through our gardens, and by which the logic of sustainability meets the beauty of nature.

Other Benefits of Our Approach to Native Gardens

The Aesthetic, Social, Ecological, and Psychological Benefits of Using Local Native Plants

1)  Local plants become a native plant community read more
2) Native gardens attract local wildlife read more
3) Local native plants look good together read more
4) Native gardens reflect the seasons read more
5) Most native plants are very long-lived read more
6) Native gardens foster a connection to nature read more
7) Local native plants promote a sense of local identity read more

More Material:

Our Defintion of the Term "Native Plant" and its relation to Xeriscape read more

Using the Concept of Plant Community as the Basis for Native Garden Design read more


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