The Drought-Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants For A Lush, Low-water Landscape by Greg RubinThe Drought-Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants For A Lush, Low-water Landscape by Greg Rubin

The Drought-Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants For A Lush, Low-water Landscape

byGreg Rubin, Lucy Warren

Paperback | April 6, 2016

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A must-have for every gardener in California looking for a new way to garden in a changing climate

In recent years California has been facing extreme drought, and in 2015 they passed state-wide water restrictions that affect home owners. Unfortunately the drought is only going to get worse, and gardeners who aren’t willing to abandon their beloved pastime entirely are going to have to learn how to garden with the absolute minimum of water. The Drought-Defying California Garden highlights the best 230 plants to grow, shares advice on how to get them established, and offers tips on how to maintain them with the minimum amount of water. All of the plants are native to California—making them uniquely adept at managing the harsh climate—and include perennials, annuals, shrubs, trees, and succulents.
Greg Rubin is the president and founder of California’s Own Native Landscape Design, Inc. working as a licensed landscape contractor after leaving a career in aerospace engineering. Rubin designs residential, commercial, and institutional landscapes and has been featured in many outlets including the Wall Street Journal, San Diego Unio...
Title:The Drought-Defying California Garden: 230 Native Plants For A Lush, Low-water LandscapeFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:208 pages, 9 × 7 × 0.68 inShipping dimensions:9 × 7 × 0.68 inPublished:April 6, 2016Publisher:Timber PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1604697091

ISBN - 13:9781604697094


Read from the Book

IntroductionCalifornia is in a state of crisis. Persistent drought has drawn down water supplies and the reliability of future precipitation is uncertain. Water, the precious source of life, can no longer be taken for granted and must be utilized wisely—nowhere more so than in the landscape. But Californians have always been pioneers, embracing change and exploring innovative new directions and solutions, and this wake-up call to the limits of our natural resources is an opportunity to create beautiful, lush, native landscapes in tune with nature. Californians can shed their old habits of neighborhoods lined with turf lawns and create interesting, beautiful landscapes based on a more realistic, healthful, and sustainable protocol. Reducing our water usage in the landscape does not have to mean bare earth, paved front yards, or sand and cacti. When we take the time to learn from nature, we open up a wealth of amazing possibilities already available and waiting to be utilized—thousands of plants unique to our area. Our exceptional environment is a rare and beautiful gift; it is time to open and enjoy it in all its wonders.The common, seemingly mandatory, lawn for every home, park, and corporate campus is the least sustainable horticultural practice in our region. Mown grass, in fact, is a relatively recent feature, becoming a status symbol only in the late nineteenth century. Yet lawns represent the furthest possible deviation from California ecology—the typical lawn consumes about 30 gallons of water per square foot each year. Compare this to the 3–5 gallons per square foot needed annually for a drought-tolerant native landscape. In fact, the closest thing to a lawn in nature is a freshwater marsh! Aside from that, most lawns are dull, the standby monoculture for the unimaginative. They are also demanding: lawn upkeep involves regular mowing, trimming, fertilizers, pesticides, weed abatement—and the tools and machines to do this maintenance—along with the resulting noise and fuel pollution.Imagine exchanging this labor and resource-intensive landscape for one that provides interest and beauty, can be maintained once every couple of months with hand tools, and uses merely sips of water a few times a month. It is an exciting prospect and one that is absolutely without your reach—and necessary.Why Use Native Plants?People are usually shocked to learn that most, if not all, of the plants in their landscapes are not native to California (not even the weeds). Even the landscapes seen beyond city limits are almost entirely dominated by non-native plants. And because our mild California climate allows so many different plants from around the world to thrive (with artificial life support), many wonder why they should grow native plants. A change in this kind of thinking is long overdue. Here are some of the many compelling reasons to prioritize native plants.Drought tolerance or low water requirements Most native plant communities are very drought and heat tolerant, especially those from the southern portion of the state. Considering our current drought crisis, choosing these plants that can thrive with less water is a matter of urgent necessity. It goes beyond that, though: native landscapes tend to see a 60–90 percent reduction in water use and cost over a conventional landscape, and this still allows for light levels of plant irrigation through summer for dusting off and fire resistance. A typical monthly summer water bill in San Diego for a large (1-acre) conventionally landscaped yard might run upward of $900 per month, whereas the same size property landscaped in drought-tolerant natives would cost around $125.Southern California represents the driest area of the five Mediterranean climate zones in the world. These unique subtropical regions receive their natural rainfall in the winter and endure warm to hot, dry summers. The amount of supplemental irrigation that will sustain plants native to the region is typically insufficient to support other Mediterranean climate species. Non-natives simply need more water and do not have the natural supportive ecological adaptations of natives.Beauty and color One myth about planting natives is that they look great in the spring but dry up and blow away in the summer and fall. If your space is carefully planned and planted correctly, nothing could be further from the truth. Utilizing a basic palette of 70–80 percent evergreen trees, shrubs, and perennials, native landscapes are proven to look lush and colorful year-round. Hundreds of varieties of evergreen native plants with foliar contrast, color, and texture are available to provide the backbone. Additional species bloom and form beautiful berries at different times, providing year-long seasonal interest.Sense of place With a rich palette of thousands of native plants of all shapes and forms, designers can mimic garden styles from throughout the world using only drought-tolerant natives. California is the most ecologically diverse state in the continental United States. People come from around the world to see places like Big Sur, Yosemite, Torrey Pines, and Death Valley. Thousands of years of nature’s experimentation and wisdom created the exceptional magnificent plant palettes native to each of these areas. Over the eons many other species flourished and died until the survivors became perfectly adapted to the environment. Because of its unique location and geological isolation, California is one of the top 25 ecological “hot spots” in the world. In 2000, after years of detailed taxonomic research, 4426 native plant species were recorded, making California one of the richest areas of biodiversity on the planet. Botanists are finding more of these singular plants every year, and more are becoming available in nurseries. As urbanization claims more of the native environment, we can use these rare and beautiful plants in landscapes to create backgrounds for our homes, parks, and offices that celebrate our unique region.Minimal maintenance A well-planted native landscape in which the plants are spaced according to their mature size will quickly fill in and provide enjoyment for years to come with a minimum of care. Seasonal tasks such as weeding, trimming, or pruning and deadheading will replace weekly attention. Native plants are adapted to low-nutrient soils, so you will not need fertilizer. Evergreen plants drop leaves gradually throughout the year, and these can be left in place to develop a duff layer to nurture the ecology and reduce weeds.Erosion control A healthy native plant community involves more than just the plants. It is an entire ecosystem including a fungal network of mycorrhizae connecting the roots of the plants throughout the landscape. The soil includes as much or more biomass than above ground, tying in a rich environment of fungi, bacteria, and soil microbes in the root zone of the plants. The elements of this rhizosphere work in conjunction to enhance the plant community and to bind the soil. Undisturbed native plant communities repel weed invasion and minimize erosion.Fire safety A lightly hydrated native landscape is as or more fire resistant than many other types of landscaping. While popular perception is that the native plants will carry fire, their adaptation to dry climates means that they are actually less likely to burn so long as they have had minimal hydration. An established native landscape may be watered once every couple of weeks to clean off the leaves and wet the mulch. This amount of water may sustain the plants such that the leaves singe rather than burn, even when traditional drought-tolerant plants such as rosemary have burned to a crisp on the same amount of irrigation.Ecology Unlike most non-natives, which compete for environmental resources, California native plants live cooperatively in distinct plant communities, sharing resources. As few as five species can create a community, but most are rich with diversity. These plant communities are tied together and nourished by multiple organisms in the soil, are aided in reproduction by native pollinators, and support native flora and fauna. More than “landscapes,” native plantings create beautiful environments for multiple species.Habitat preservation By planting even a small yard with native plants, you will be supporting native wildlife. Butterfly species are dependent on specific native plants for their survival. Birds thrive with native plant species for nectar, seeds, and the native insects that feed on those plants. A well-established, healthy native landscape will repel weeds and pathogens. And you may even be helping to perpetuate plants that are rare and endangered in the wild.

Editorial Reviews

“A must-have for any California gardener who wants a little color and interest in the landscape.” —Garden Design Online “Detailed plant descriptions are paired with honed advice for planting and care in garden settings.” —San Diego Home and Garden “There are a lot of practical and ecological reasons to turn your landscape into a way station and home for bees. In fact, the list of advantages is so compelling it may dramatically change how you see and use the space around your home.” —The Press Democrat “Lucy Warren, co-author of The Drought-Defying California Garden, believes that emulating nature by using drought-tolerant plants is the productive way to grow, especially in Mediterranean climates.” —The Associated Press “This well-written, well-illustrated, well-designed book is an excellent introduction to creating attractive, sustainable landscapes with native plants that greatly reduce water use.” —Choice Magazine “An indispensable guide to growing native plants culled from years of hands-on experience” —San Diego Home and Garden “A wealth of information based on the authors’ many years of experience in the field. . . . The practical information shared by Rubin and Warren is what makes this book so useful for anybody who is considering installing a California native garden. . . . simply follow their recommendations.” —Succulents and More