Monday, November 24, 2014

what not to plant & when

we are ramping up to add some low-voltage lighting and plants to our front yard. unfortunately we are a few years ahead of the curve, having turned off our sprinklers and killed our lawn back in 2007 (or earlier?). i can't remember. if you live in los angeles - the dwp has just increased the rebate offered to remove your turf. i'm helping an older neighbor get this done, and its exciting to see so many homes on our street taking advantage of this opportunity.

when we bought the house, it looked like this:
grassy (2001)

then we redid the driveway, built new fences, painted, let the hedge grow,... and let some years slip by to come to this:

(love the contrast from film to digital - also captured here!)

a good decade in and we are rethinking some spots. to be honest, i hand watered for the first half dozen summers, then settled on complete neglect. i realize it isn't everyone's cup of tea - but with a good layer of mulch in place i like the natural ramble of it all. not to mention all the wonderful insects and wildlife it attracts. and most of all it is low maintenance! (when we turned off the sprinklers, we also turned off the gardener who came with our home. and amazing man - but just wasn't an expense we thought a priority at the time. i still see him tending to the amazing back garden of our neighbor june. he is one of the last in los angeles.

my friend john picked up some plants for me at matilija nursery this week. (located in moorpark, it is a favorite along with theodore payne in sun valley and the grow native nursery at the va in westwood.) now is the best time of the year to plant here. the rains (we hope!) are on their way and the days are are getting cooler.

there are so many great native plants to chose from. and great books on the subject. we chose a selection that i know will do will in our yard - having them in place already - including California fuchsia and manzanita varieties.

i think if you are looking at drought tolerant, the more important consideration is what not to plant.

here is a great resource of plant that are pests in southern california. (i also love that it offers alternatives.)

the ones i see planted most often in the sfv the ubiquitous fountain and pampas grasses and broom varieties. (broom has invade the entire west coast - from canada down to mexico. it is so sad to see how it is wiped-out natives along the way. we actually spend a good amount of time every summer working to eradicate it from galiano, but it often feels like a lost cause.)

naively, we planted a peruvian pepper in our front yard soon after we moved in. it was early in my california-native education and sold under the deceptive name "california pepper". if we had to do it again, we would plant a native california sycamore in its place. (the sycamore is a high allergen tree - but still remains a favorite of mine.)

off to get those plants in the ground!

favorite books for the socal gardener (a mix of the inspirational and the practical)
Landscape for Living
California Native Plants for the Garden
Designing California Native Gardens
Gardens are for People
The California Native Landscape
The Sunset Western Garden Book
Gardens are for Living

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