By Lana Findlay, ILACSD’s Education Assistant
October’s Santa Ana winds were a blaring reminder that San Diego is located in an arid environment. Combine this with the current drought conditions we are facing and that means we have little water to waste! A typical San Diego household uses 70 percent of its daily water use in outdoor landscaping, as lawns generally use four times more water than water-wise plantings. A great solution is to get rid of that water hogging lawn and landscape with California friendly low water plants. San Diego’s native plants are drought tolerant and require less fertilizers and pesticides because they are already adapted to our lack of rainfall, our soils and our pests! Using less fertilizers and pesticides means less pollution down our storm drain systems, leading to less pollution in our streams and ocean.
Ugh, native plants! I can hear you groaning, but when planting a native plant garden you don’t have to give up on color. Many of our native plants have brilliant flowers in spring, eye catching red berries in the winter and some have colorful blooms year round.
The flagship of the Chaparral is the beautiful Ceanothus or the California Lilac. Available in many varieties, this low maintenance plant provides deep blue, fragrant flower clusters, is evergreen and very drought tolerant.
Looking to attract hummingbirds to your garden? The bright red flower of the California Fuschia or the light blue flower whorls of the Black Sage will bring the nectar loving hummers to your backyard. The California Fuschia provides color to your garden in late summer and fall during our toughest drought conditions. Black Sage blooms in Spring but its fragrant, evergreen leaves carry a beautiful scent all year long.
For flowers that bloom in winter, try the white to pink beauties on the Howard McMinn Manzanita. This plant attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and native insects to your garden. Another interesting plant with large white papier-mache flowers and a yellow center is the Matilija poppy. This flower looks like a sunny-side up egg! It likes sandy soils and survives on less than 30 inches of rain a year!
The City of San Diego Water Department and The Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College host classes (some at no charge!) to help San Diego gardeners be water wise while designing colorful and healthy looking landscapes. Visit http://www.sandiego.gov/water/conservation/waterwiseclasses.shtml and http://www.thegarden.org/calendar/index.php for more information!
Be water wise and re-think the traditional landscape!