GreenTown Los Altos

Top Ten Reasons to Replace Your Lawn with Native Plants


Apr 2013


Hummingbird Sage, Poppies & Dark Star Ceanothus.

Hummingbird Sage, Poppies & Dark Star Ceanothus.

In 2010, California signed the 20×2020 Water Conservation Plan. The goal is to achieve a 20 percent reduction in per capita urban water use statewide by 2020. In Los Altos & Los Altos Hills irrigation accounts for 50-70% of urban water use, with lawns being one of the thirstiest types of landscaping. Here is an inspiring list for change.

Need ideas for native plant landscaping? Don’t miss out on the Going Native Garden Tour April 20-21.
Top Ten Reasons to Replace Your Lawn with Native Plants
 – Benefits to You and Society – 

1. Healthier Creeks. Fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are top polluters in our creeks, killing aquatic life and spreading disease. Lawns should be at least 50 feet away from waterways but even at that distance, these pollutants will still find their way into our creeks.

2. Less Storm Water Runoff. Deep roots of native plants and trees surrounded by mulch retain more water onsite than turf, and substantially more than synthetic turf.
3. More Free Time. Lawns can take as much time to manage as vegetable gardens, and what do you harvest? Grass clippings, blech! Native plants don’t require fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and benefit only from annual or semiannual pruning. Not sure about how to maintain your landscaping? Hire a Certified Green Gardener.

Baccharis & Salvias on a slope

Baccharis & Salvias on a slope

4. Save Water. Lawns require more water than our climate can provide. Irrigation of lawns accounts for the largest single use of residential potable water, water that may have been transported hundreds of miles to your home. Reducing our draw of water from the Delta and the Sierras helps maintain their ecosystems.

5. Save Money. All the mowing, fertilizer, herbicides and irrigation of lawns cost a lot of money. Native plants need substantially less effort and money to maintain.

6. Cash for Grass. Santa Clara Valley Water District will pay you up to $2000 to replace your lawn. Contact SCVWD or your water company for details.

7. Good Bugs, Not Bad Bugs. Mosquitos in our dry summer? There must be a lawn nearby. Frequent watering creates tiny pools just right for mosquitos to breed. Native plants attract good bugs and birds, ones that eat mosquitos and other pests.

Poppies & Salvias with California Fescue

Poppies & Salvias with California Fescue



8. Biodiversity. Other than hardscape, there isn’t a more inhospitable surface to biodiversity than the monoculture of lawns. With your excess time and money freed up from lawn care, buy yourself binoculars. You’ll be amazed with the variety of birds, insects and wildlife that native plants attract. Native wildlife evolved with native plants and they depend on them for survival.

9. Less Greenhouse Gases. Manufacture and transportation of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and mowers has a substantial carbon footprint. Transportation, pumping and treatment of water requires energy. When you save water, you also save energy!
10. Smart Choice. Landscaping with plants that are native to our climate is a smart choice. If you want soft areas for kiddies to roll in, native grasses come in all three flavors: seeds, plugs and sod.
Questions? Contact Kit Gordon at

5 Responses to “Top Ten Reasons to Replace Your Lawn with Native Plants”

  1. jean struthers

    Please put in an announcement of the CNPS Tour, Wildflower Show art Mission college April 27-28
    AND OUR SPRING NATIVE PLANT SALE. MAY4 at HIDDEN VILLA 10-3 this sale not only benefits the Native Plant society but funds Acterra and Hidden Villa.

    It is a great way to get started with natives…there will be knowledgeable people there to help select the plants and a lecture by author Helen Popper on how and when to grow natives in your garden,

  2. landscaping springfield mo

    Native plants are endemic to the place. They have survive for years and can easily be grown. With preservation of water, it is best to follow the plan!


    • kit_g

      Thanks Rose. Natives are the way to go. I love the name of your biz – Nixalawn Service.

  3. Jean Struthers

    Going Native Garden Tour saturday and sunday sign up on the web. It’s free

Leave a comment