With the arrival of COVID virus and all the restrictions and social distancing that has been necessary, people are turning to gardening and home improvements that have long been neglected because of busy schedules. Now is the ideal time to tackle those projects in the garden or patio area, that need a little more time to execute. With the drought that affects California gardens each year, it may be a good idea to replace that water guzzler, your lawn.
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Garden experts in the California area and Sacramento/Lincoln areas, have been writing about this very problem for many years now. Not only will it save you a small fortune in water but replacing your lawn with a carefully thought out plan for hardscaping and native California plants and shrubs will help to invite in the insects and pollinators that help our planet survive and thrive. Working with #rocks, #pebbles, #pavers, and native shrubs, a gardener can build an environment that is easier to manage with drought conditions as well as save water and money having to continually replace dead plants and trees.
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We are very thankful to the experts at The Sacramento Valley Chapter of the California Native Plant Society for this list of valuable plants. The original information compiled by Melinda M. Rivasplata, Plant Sale Coordinator, and updated by Sabrina Okamura-Johnson, Co-Chair Old City Cemetery Native Plant Demonstration Garden, Sacramento Valley CNPS.
There are a number of California native plants that do well as landscape plants in Sacramento area gardens. Here is a short list1 of suggested native perennials for our area, along with a list of references for learning more about gardening with native plants.
- California Buckeye, Aesculus Californica. – Deciduous shrub to mounding tree, 15-30 feet high, with smooth, white to gray bark. Deep green leaves are palmately divided into 5-7 leaflets. Flowers are white, fragrant, and in showy spike-like clusters. Large pear-shaped, hard fruit/seed (poisonous) in late summer. Summer deciduous (will retain leaves longer if given supplemental water), usually first to leaf out in spring. Native to dry foothills of Sierra and Coast Ranges. Prefers well-drained soil and limited summer water.
- Big-leaf Maple, Acer Macrophylum. – Round-topped, deciduous, with open branching and greenish-tan bark, 18-100 feet high. Roundish, deeply lobed leaves, light green, turning pale yellow or golden in the fall, or deeper orange-yellow in the mountains. Flowers in racemes, pale green-yellow. Native to stream banks below 5,000 feet elevation and moist canyons. Does best with some shade or in a north exposure. Once established, it can be somewhat drought tolerant.
- Western Redbud, Cercis Occidentalis. – Deciduous shrub to small tree, 6-16 feet high, developing many branches from the base. Heart-shaped leaves emerge light green. Pea-shaped flowers emerge prior to leaves, March-April, most commonly magenta. Thin seedpods develop shortly after flowering, 2-3 inches long. Native to much of the chaparral and foothill woodlands of central to northern California, foothill and Coast Ranges. Prefers well-drained soils but will tolerate clay conditions. Will accept watering or limited watering in summer and is oak root fungus-resistant.
- Toyon, Heteromeles Arbutifolia. A dense evergreen shrub, 8-15 feet high and as wide, or a multi-trunk dome tree, 15-25 feet high. Large leathery leaves, 1-4 inches long. Clusters of small white flowers occur July to September. Large bunches of showy red berries mature December to February. Native to chaparral foothills and has good tolerance of many conditions, including heat, smog, wind, light, or heavy soils. It can become highly drought tolerant but will take summer water. Responds well to pruning. SHRUBS Wild Lilac, Ceanothus sp. There are many horticultural varieties that are suitable for gardens. Some will do well in our area. Forms are from mounding ground cover to large shrubs. They have white or blue flower clusters. Need good drainage. Coyote Bush, Baccharis pilularis. Mounding varieties make a good background. Full sun. Drought tolerant and evergreen. Looks better with monthly water during the summer.
- Western Redbud, Cercis Occidentalis. – 6-16 feet high. A good accent shrub with magenta pea-like flowers that bloom before it leafs out in spring. Heart-shaped leaves. Pods are attractive in late summer. Deciduous. Resistant to oak root fungus.
- Oregon Grape, Mahonia, or Berberis sp. Several species. – They have shiny, spine-tipped leaves, yellow flowers, and clusters of berries. Foliage turns bronze in the winter. Berberis (Mahonia) repens, Creeping Mahonia. Spreading shrub, 1 to 3 feet high. Good groundcover in sun or partial shade.
- Berberis (Mahonia) Aquifolium. Oregon grape. Shrub to 6 feet. – Resistant to oak root fungus.
- California Wild Rose, Rosa Californica. – Spreading shrub grows to 4 feet tall with spiny stems. Flowers pink and fragrant followed by colorful red hips. Attracts birds. Partial shade, drought tolerant.
- Fuchsia-flowered gooseberry, Ribes Speciosum. – Spiny branches 3 to 6 feet long. Red, pendulous tubular flowers attract hummingbirds. It is somewhat summer deciduous, but some summer water will make it nearly evergreen. Partial shade, good drainage.
- Western Spice Bush, Caulycanthus Occidentalis. – Handsome shrub with unusual red bracted flowers and fragrant smelling leaves. Deciduous. Grows well in semi-shaded locations. Will tolerate summer water.
- Red-twig dogwood, Cornus stolonifera. – Small shrub with inconspicuous flowers, deciduous with red twigs making a nice accent in the winter. Likes some summer water. The dogwood probably got its name because its bark was used to treat mangy canines in England. The term may also be a corruption of “dagwood”, trees used to make skewers or daggers.
- Manzanitas. – There are a number of varieties of manzanitas (Arctostaphylos sp.) suitable for area gardens; from low growing groundcovers to large shrubs. Generally, they have gray-green leaves, are evergreen with small pink bell-shaped flowers in the spring, and small berries in the summer. The bark is red and peeling.
Deer grass, Muhlenbergia Rigens. – This handsome bunch of grass forms a clump 4 feet tall and wide. Gray-green to straw-colored flower spikes last most of the year. Will tolerate some clay in soils. Used as basket making material. Full sun and drought tolerant.
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Now that you have a few suggestions of plants that would do well in drought areas of Sacramento and Lincoln, you can explore the great selection of hardscape, from rocks to paving, pebbles and mulch as well as compost, reclaimed lumber, wood chips, and more @Green Solutions and More.
We also offer #dumpsters of any size to help you cart away your green waste and old lawn, concrete, or general tree and garden refuse for recycling. Call us and we can suggest the right size dumpster delivered right to your doorstep.
Enjoy this time in your garden and home and get those big tasks done with our help from #Green Solutions and More.
Green Solutions and More Inc.
Call us at: 916 409-9700