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Going Green means Planting Natives!

Do you get depressed when you look out at your yard? Your Draecena Palm looks bald, and your grass looks dead, yet weeds are popping out all over the place? You tried a rock garden, hoping for zero maintenance, but weeds broke through the plastic sheeting anyway? You tried cementing the entire yard, but weeds pop up through the cracks?

Artostaphylos Pungens - has a beautiful and distinctive red bark
Coyote Brush (Baccharus pilularis)

Why fight the inevitable when you can simply embrace the beauty of the Native California landscape?

The San Francisco Bay Area has lots of micro-climates, and much of the California coast, including SF and the Peninsula, belong to the CA coastal sagebrush community. The plants in this community are drought tolerant and in fact die if over-watered - they get the majority of their water from the fog, which also means they are less likely to invade your plumbing system for water.

Plants such as Coyote Bush (Bacharrus pilularis); California Lilacs (Ceanothus spp.); California Buckwheat (Erigonum spp.); Manzanita (Arctostaphylos spp.), among many others support native wildlife. Native wildlife, such as endangered San Bruno Mountain butterflies, depend upon native California plant species to survive and reproduce.

It would be a travesty to replace these beautiful plants with highly invasive foreign plant species such as English Ivy (Hedera helix) - which chokes and suffocates everything underneath it; Pampas Grass (Cortederia selloanna) - whose leaves are as sharp as razor blades; and Scotish Broom (Cytisus scoparius) which crowds out native species, has a seed bank that can remain dormant for up to 80 years, diminishes habitat for grazing animals, and increases risk for wildland fires.

Even the ubiquitous Dracaena Palm, commonly found in San Francisco Sunset District and Daly City Westlake District yards, is a non-native from Africa, and its not even a real palm tree. Another ubiquitous foreign plant in the Sunset District is the English Yew (Taxus baccata), which property owners typically decapitate when it grows taller than their house. Let's not be foolish! Learn about the plant's potential size and growing condition. Then grow species which both look good and thrive in the SF Bay Area habitat - grow native plants!

Native California plants do not require fertilizers - they rely upon a delicate network of fungal micro-organisms called mycorrhizae to survive. They attach to the roots of the plants in a symbiotic way, and extend the plant's root network. These fungi are not an “add-on” to a chemical fertilizer routine – They are best used “instead of” fertilizers. Many plant foods, especially fast-acting liquids, harm and/or destroy microbial activity in the soil and create fertilizer-dependent plants.

Corporate retailers such as Home Depot, KMart, or Walmart won't tell you about, nor do they want to sell you native plants! Why? Because they make more money selling you fertilizer dependent plants, along with bags of fertilizers and pesticides.

For more information, contact:

California Native Plant Society - Yerba Buena Chapter

San Bruno Mountain Watch

San Francisco Sunset's Front Yard Ambassador Program

Contact Jeffrey at

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