The California Native Landscape: The Homeowner's Design Guide to Restoring Its Beauty and Balance

The California Native Landscape: The Homeowner's Design Guide to Restoring Its Beauty and Balance

by Greg Rubin, Lucy Warren


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The California Native Landscape: The Homeowner's Design Guide to Restoring Its Beauty and Balance by Greg Rubin, Lucy Warren

Water shortages and water rationing are commonplace throughout California, rendering expanses of lawn and thirsty, nonnative plants unsustainable. The California Native Landscape addresses both concerns by showing homeowners how to succeed with natives and showing them how lush, colorful, and thriving their landscape can be. The authors stress the importance of smart garden design and combining the right plants to promote the natural symbiosis that occurs within plant communities. Native plants also play an important role in creating fire-resistant landscapes, and this new book has cutting-edge information on this crucial topic, refuting the myth that natives are more fire-prone than nonnatives. With its unique combination of proven techniques, environmental wisdom, and inspiring design advice, this is an essential resource for all California gardeners who want to create a beautiful, ecologically appropriate, and resource-conserving home landscape.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781604692327
Publisher: Timber Press, Incorporated
Publication date: 03/19/2013
Pages: 372
Sales rank: 633,352
Product dimensions: 7.42(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.14(d)

About the Author

Greg Rubin is the president and founder of California’s Own Native Landscape Design, Inc. working as a licensed landscape contractor after leaving a career in aerospace engineering. Rubin designs residential, commercial, and institutional landscapes and has been featured in many outlets including the Wall Street Journal, San Diego Union Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Sunset, San Diego Home and Garden, California Garden, Kiplinger’s, MSNBC, and NPR. Learn more at

Lucy Warren is a longtime regional gardening professional in southern California. She has written for many local and national publications, including a regular gardening column in the San Diego Union-Tribune. She has also been editor for California Garden magazine. She is a life-member of the San Diego Horticulture Society, a UCCE Master Gardener, and a horticulture chair on the board of Friends of Balboa Park. She is a sought-after speaker and expert on native plants and sustainable landscaping.

Read an Excerpt

Introduction: A New Horticulture
Welcome to a new world of horticulture in California. This book will give you an in-depth look into the exciting world of successful landscaping with California native plants. It challenges conventional wisdom about California natives by dispelling myths with practical information and instruction for success. It focuses on the horticulture that works for native plants by tossing traditional gardening methods out the window. Here you will find useful advice, including many plant suggestions, on how to easily emulate natural ecology in the landscape, rather than trying to force native plants to survive in an alien environment. The design principles go beyond plant color and texture to illustrate how to create a fundamental structural framework for the landscape. Using appropriate techniques and principles as described, you will be able to create native gardens that are beautiful year-round with low mortality and easy maintenance.

Our experience and focus is in southern California, but the principles hold true throughout the state. If the practices we describe work well in our plant-stressing rainfall and climate conditions, they will only work better in the more forgiving climates of our northern counterparts. If the plant examples we cite are not appropriate for your area, you will find plants with similar characteristics that work. Think and buy local as much as you can—we would love to have native plant nurseries expand and thrive, giving us ever more wonderful selections.

Why Use Native Plants?
People are often shocked to find that none of the plants in their landscape are native to California (not even the weeds). Furthermore, non-native plants also dominate much of the landscape they are accustomed to seeing beyond the cities. In the past it was difficult to find even a single California native plant in most nurseries—so many different plants from all over the world seem to thrive so easily in our mild climate (with artificial life support) that people ask, “What’s the big deal? Why should I use natives?” Here are some things to consider.

Table of Contents

Introduction: A new horticulture 9

1 The California Environment: A study in diversity 17

2 Human Impact on the Landscape: Deterioration of the California environment 29

3 Soil: The world down under 43

4 Design: Start with the bones 59

5 Garden Style: It's your party 95

6 Plant Selection: A plant for every purpose 113

Taking advantage of plant communities 114

Native Trees

Large deciduous trees 118

Large evergreen trees 123

Small deciduous trees 132

Small evergreen trees 138

Native Shrubs

Large screening shrubs 147

Medium shrubs 159

Native Groundcovers 181

Native Perennials, Vines, and Monocots Perennials 197

Vines 212

Monocots 215

7 Installation: Plant it right 223

8 Care and Maintenance: A less intensive schedule 263

9 Pests and Diseases: Unwelcome encounters 291

10 Weeds and the Native Landscape: Adventitious aliens 309

11 Fire: Lessons learned from Southern California 327

Conclusion: A vision for beautiful, healthful landscapes 349


Books and articles 357

Online resources 360

Regional chapters of the California Native Plant Society 360

California native plant sources 362

Index 364

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