Converting conventional landscaping to nature is a positive trend for water and wildlife. | Cover collections

AMONG THIS YEAR’S GARDEN TRENDS IS THE CONCEPT OF “REWILDING”, or returning conventional home gardens to a natural state that more closely resembles what the earth would have looked like had humans not taken over. Consider ripping up lawns and replacing them with native plants and natural materials that provide a nice place for native insects, birds, and other wildlife.

Restoring even a small piece of land to a more natural state is also a good way to save water. Natives use far less than lawns and many non-Natives who have adorned gardens trying to look like something you might see on the East Coast or in Europe than in a naturally arid place like California.

Local landscaper Richard Boynton of All Things Green was a pioneer without even trying. He has been evangelizing indigenous use since 1978. “It takes a long time to change the public conversation,” he explains. Boynton says he’s hearing from more people than ever interested in giving up lawns and non-natives. “What they have doesn’t work anymore,” he says. They are tired of watering the grass in the face of higher water costs during a drought.

As well as a desire to conserve water, Bonyton says there is growing interest in planting for wildlife, such as creating gardens for pollinators or attracting birds. He relies heavily on using plants native to the region or other parts of California, most of which he sources from Drought Resistant Nursery, which has a wholesale nursery in Carmel Valley and a retail outlet. retail in Monterey. Although it will use non-native aquatic plants from other parts of the world with climates similar to the local region, such as the Mediterranean, Australia and sometimes Africa.

Carmel Valley landscaper Marie Goulet of Wild Land Workshop takes a similar approach, incorporating mostly native people. One of its main goals is to repopulate the yards with plants that would have naturally grown and thrived if people hadn’t intervened. “The more we grow, the more in my mind it is our responsibility to replace what we take away,” says Goulet. “I feel almost ethically bound to this concept.”

She adopts a philosophical approach to her creations. “People in general are healthier and happier when they can have an abundance of diversity in their lives in the natural world, even if it’s a ton of houseplants,” she says. . A more natural design will bring a sense of security and have a calming effect on the people around it.

Goulet advises those interested in bringing their land back into the wild to take the time to walk around their surrounding ecosystem and be interested in the plants they see there. If your home is in a coastal scrub region, for example, note which plants survive. “Understand the context of where you are in the world,” she says.

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It’s also important to note how the sun moves across the yard throughout the day and what your water situation is. Try to incorporate as much diversity as possible in plants and trees. Try to have something in the garden that blooms or fruits all year round, so that when one plant or group of plants is finished for one season, another takes over, providing food for pollinators and birds.

Achieving such diversity is difficult in a small space, Goulet concedes, but she says even adding five specific native plants to your ecosystem can make a difference. It can give birds a place to live, hide or feed. Adding a water feature, even just a bowl, is also helpful.

Talking to experts at local nurseries like Drought Resistant Nursery is a good place to start when choosing plants. A great online resource for learning more about native plants that will grow in your space is calflora.org, a nonprofit website run by a team of experts dedicated to helping people understand native California plants. Click on “What Grows Here” to access a map. Plug in your city or region and indicate the types of plants you are looking for (water resistant, riparian, shade tolerant, commercially available) and click “search”. Up appears a list of plants native to that specific ecosystem.

Another good resource is the Monterey Bay Chapter of the California Native Plant Society (chapters.cnps.org/montereybay), which has links to information on how to identify local wildflowers and gardening with them. natives, among other useful resources.

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