Why are native ecosystems important?
California native plants are essential to the health of our local ecosystems for a variety of reasons. They are adapted to the local climate, soil, and have co-evolved with animals, fungi, and microbes to form a complex network of relationships. Natives attract a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources, which bring life to our local greenspaces.
Native plants also help reduce water pollution. Many natives have deep roots that allow rainwater to soak well into the ground. Rain that does not soak into the ground flows off lawns and pavement, picking up pollutants, then flowing into storm drains where it is carried away to nearby ponds, lakes, streams, and oceans, polluting and degrading these aquatic ecosystems. Reducing water pollution and increasing water conservation is an essential part of climate resilience, as weather conditions change, and rainfall becomes uncertain.
Additionally, native plants are critical in erosion control. Species such as California Buckwheat and Coyote Brush roots hold sediment in place, helping to stabilize the areas where they are planted. Controlling erosion is important to reduce runoff, control pollutants, and to maintain habitats and biodiversity.
Approximately one-third of California native species don’t occur anywhere else on Earth, and many animal species depend on these native plants for food and shelter.
Why plant natives in your garden?
California native plants are adapted to the local climate and are therefore drought tolerant. These are excellent plants to include in your garden, as once established, they are low maintenance. They require minimal irrigation, little to no fertilizer and pesticides, and attract pollinators, benefiting local ecosystems. Native plants have not only developed their own defenses against many pests and diseases, they can also attract beneficial insects and animals that attack pests.
With the increase in development, planting natives in your yard and in our public spaces provides a “bridge” to local wildlands and open spaces. If we planted natives everywhere, we wouldn’t have to escape the city to enjoy nature!
To learn more about planting natives in your garden visit our Native Plant Maintenance Guide.