Monday, November 24, 2008

Wild In The Urbs: Going Native.

Southern California is a dry land. Okay, all land is dry land, but Southern California's land is especially dry. We don't get a lot of rain and we don't have much of our own water. Well, there is that giant ocean just to the west, but it's got all that salt in it, and don't get me started about the lack of desalination plants in this region. So, let's pretend the Pacific Ocean isn't there. That's what San Diego's City Council is doing.

Water supply is so bad that San Diego, thanks to the City Council, is going to start recycling waste water into drinking water. So, if you live elsewhere and have thought about moving here because you see how wonderful the weather is every time you watch a Chargers or Padres game from San Diego, think again. You'll be drinking cleaned up toilet water. Yummy, yummy toilet water. Not quite Tang but just like NASA!

Anyway, all that's a round about way of getting to the point. Those beautiful green lawns that define the suburbs consume way too much water for this region. That doesn't stop everybody from having one. But if the consequence of everybody having a lawn is everybody getting to drink toilet water, well, maybe it's time to go native and start replacing our lawns with native plants. You know, the plants that evolved to thrive in San Diego's low water ecology. Don't buy that argument? Then how about this one: the plants that God in his infinite wisdom perfectly created to grow here.

So, here's the home in the suburbs the week after moving in last February. And here's the same home today, two days after putting in all native plants. And here's a side angle shot.

Not too lush or green just now. (Clicking the photos to enlarge them helps.) But the picture doesn't capture the slight fragrance of sage, either. And the plants just went in. There are close to 100 new plants in the yard and each one produces either flowers or berries. Once the yard is established there will be an abundance of reds, and greens, and blues, and yellows, along with butterflies, hummingbirds, and other seed eating birds.

The best part is, once the yard is established, it won't need watering, except for the occasional sprinkle with the hose using the beer can method. The beer can method, for those not in the know, is this: grab a hose, grab a beer, and water the yard until you're done drinking the beer. Sounds like the perfect Southern California lifestyle to me.


PS: Props to Clayton Tschudy of Tschudy Ecological Designs for the design and the plant selection of the yard. He's got the right vision. The plants came from Las Pilitas Nursery, a native plants nursery, north of Escondido. Here are the names and links to the nursery's website for the plants in the yard. (You're going to have to cut and paste to see the pictures of the plants fully grown and descriptions.)

Galvezia "Firecracker"--
Viguiera laciniata--
Eriogonum umbellatum polyanthum--
Eriogonum arborescens--
Eriogonum grande rubescens--
Mahonia nevenii--
Salvia "Pozo Blue"--
Iris douglasiana--
Muhlenbergia rigens--
Ribes viburnifolium--
Diplacus puniceus--
Zauschneria californica--

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And have you met the friendly fellow from the city govenment who will fine you 30,000 bucks or so for failing to maintain a properly green and grassy yard?

Happened to someone a bit north of LA earlier this year. And no, it wasn't a joke or a typo. Our California cities have images to maintain and nonconformists like you are Not Being Helfful...

-mike shupp
I'd like to see them try! I'm a lawyer, dammit! I'm thinking they'd first go after the house across the street with the statues of naked women in the front yard. But if they do come for either of us, Mike, I'm hoping you'll back us up. First, they came for the naked statues guy, and I did nothing, because I had no naked statutes, and I thought his statues were tacky and ugly. Then they came for the native plants guy, and again, I did nothing because I had a beautiful green lawn ...
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