Sustainability involves selecting plants that are adapted to your climates and micro-climate, and implementing environmentally sound maintenance practices.

During the postwar building boom in California, water was perceived as an inexpensive resource. Homeowners were assured that all their landscapes would thrive using a few sprinklers and maybe the occasional pest control from the local supply store.

By the mid-1980s, a major shift began to occur, drawing attention to water supplies, drought, and a need to conserve water. Our ground water supply was being depleted faster than it was being replenished and our reliance on imported water was taking a toll on the ecosystem of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Colorado river watersheds. (Western Municipal Water District, 2018).

Unlike the rest of the United States, California is known for its uniqueness; This is partially due to its interesting climate.  There are at least 24 climates in our state, and over 8 different micro-climates in Southern California.   These climates are key elements to our weather and landscapes. Then what are some benefits of an enhancing a landscape.  Here are 4 things one can benefit from a landscape.

Promote health

For many years, landscapes have been used to treat patients with mental illness in Europe and the United States. (Paine, C. 1999).  Modern landscapes are being used for holistic approaches, called therapeutic landscapes.  The colors and fragrances of certain plants promote treatment to individuals.  In addition to plants, organic components such as mulch contribute to the overall ecosystem.  For example, soil amendments can provide incredible benefits to a landscape by regulating the surrounding temperature.

Fire Protection

California is also known for its fires.  There are many regions with a high fire risk. In January 2005, the state issued a new law that extended the defensible space clearance around homes and structures from 30 feet to 100 feet. Proper clearance to 100 feet dramatically increases the chance of your house surviving a wildfire. In addition, Certain California Native plants are also fire resistant. Knowing what plants to place in your property can make a huge difference during a fire.

Low Maintenance

Because of the vast climates in California, there are over 7000 native species in the state. Native gardens require 68% less maintenance than a traditional garden. In addition, a native garden generate 56% less green waste; they reduce carbon emissions because of their decease water use due to the energy use for transporting and treating water.

Property Value

According to Washington Post (2015), “Some real estate agents have found that most home-buyers are more excited about touring a home that looks inviting on the outside than one that is sad and dreary, unless they were focused on buying a fixer-upper” (para. 5). In addition, a home with a well designed landscape has a significant price point over a non-landscaped home. The price point difference can range anywhere between 5.5 to 12.7 percent depending on the type of landscape.

In recent years, the state of California has been pushing its California friendly landscape program while offering rebates to those who are willing to take out their green grass.  Kent (2017) stated, “Between the years of 2008 and 2016 Southern Californians ripped out over 167 million square feet of turf and replaced It with plants that are well adapted to our climate” (p. 4).  Though turf is not the problem, the lack of water management is.  Therefore, the state has responded with the establishing of a water management ordinance called Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance (MWELO).  This ordinance became effective on December 1, 2015. (California Department of Water Resources, 2019).


Paine, C. (1999). Design of landscapes in support of mental health: Influences and practice in ontario. Environments, 26(3), 37-47. Retrieved from

Kent, D. (2017). California Friendly: A Maintenance Guide for Landscapers, Gardeners and Land Managers. Orange, CA: Douglas Kent + Associates.

California Department of Water Resources. (2019). Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance. Retrieved from

Western Municipal Water District. (2018). SoCal Yard Transformation (2nd ed.). Riverside, CA: Western Municipal Water District.

Washington Post. (2015). How much value does landscaping add to your home when selling?. Retrieved from

The Value of a Sustainable Landscape

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