California is making a big push for native California plants, because they conserve water. Conserving water is also a great way to save money, especially if you live in an area where water rates are rising. Local plants offer several other money-saving advantages, too.
Native Plants Reduce Your Water Bill
Most people have large green lawns, but those lawns are not actually native to most regions. Native grasses and plants have adapted to thrive under typical rainfall conditions. When you move those plants to other regions, you usually have to water them more to keep them healthy. Regularly watering a lawn can add thousands to your water bill. Instead, choose a native grass suited to your region. For example, California grasses aren’t quite as green or thick, but they only need to be watered once a month vs. an imported grass that needs to be watered several times a week.
Other plants can also be water hogs. Pine trees can kill lawns and other plants because of their voracious thirst. Many other plants also consume large amounts of water. On the other hand, cactuses and other Southwestern plants require very little water. If you live in a region that doesn’t get much rain, choose plants that don’t need much water.
Native Plants Reduce Your Maintenance Costs
Native plants are more resistant to local plant diseases and pests. With non-native plants, you usually have to buy a lot of chemicals to keep them healthy. Local plants avoid those costs. In addition, non-native plants can often overrun native species. Ivy, for example, has overtaken much of the south and is killing native forests. The cost of cutting back the ivy is astronomical. If you go native, you won’t have to pay a gardener (or buy chemicals) to keep the non-native species at bay.
Native Plants Have Lower Costs
Non-native plants may be grown in other regions and then imported for sale in your state, which increase the cost. Non-native plants grown for sale in your region often include the additional water and food costs in the purchase price. In contrast, local plants that are easier to grow, aren’t transported over long distances, and don’t consume a lot of natural resources will cost less.
If you’re re-landscaping, contact your local water agency for advice about choosing plants. Some regions offer discount programs or grants to further reduce the cost of buying local plants or installing water-wise sprinklers.
Native Plants Keep the Ground Healthy
This doesn’t seem like a money-saver, but it is. Native plants improve the ground’s ability to retain water, which reduces run-off and landslides. If you live in an area prone to flooding or landslides, native plants could help you avoid or reduce the cost of repairing the damage.
It’s true that native plants don’t have the same lush look as an expanse of green lawn, but saving water and money is worth it. Native plants can be gorgeous if you choose wisely. If you must have a lawn, look for native grasses or plant a small plot of lush lawn surrounded by native plants to keep the costs and water use down. If I haven’t convinced you, maybe checking your water footprint will.