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Creating a Natural San Luis Obispo Landscape for your Yard

by Cathy Enns

When you're planning to landscape a San Luis Obispo County yard, it pays to consider creating the kind of environment that looks and behaves like a natural Central Coast setting. Why? There are actually numerous advantages to naturalizing the area surrounding your home. Here are just a few.

* Water savings. Unless you're from another part of the planet, you know that water is at a premium in California. North of Southern California, there are few fairly densely populated areas that are drier than our own Central Coast. In the communities surrounding San Luis Obispo, landscape plans need to be developed with this hard truth in mind.

Does this mean you can't create a beautiful setting for your home? No, of course not. Strategic use of natural elements such as rocks and pebbles, combined with native plants with modest needs for water, can result in as pleasing a garden as any other.

* Pest management. Here in San Luis Obispo, landscape considerations must include a pest management strategy. SLO County is still classified as a rural area, and most people live within a stone's throw of critters of all kinds. If you avoid developing an environment with a picture-perfect, manicured look, you will also be able to avoid aggressive pest control. A gopher hole or two, a deer-nibbled branch here and there will make little difference to a natural setting. When your “putting green lawn” and magazine-worthy roses are destroyed, you will understand the advantages of a natural landscape that accommodates all creatures.

* Time and money savings. Picture for a moment a broad expanse of perfect lawn. Every blade the perfect length. No weeds in sight. Waves of colorful flowers blooming every season. Then consider the cost of installing and maintaining that landscape. You or your gardener will be mowing, fertilizing, weeding, pruning and replacing plants constantly. A more natural landscape will take care of itself much of the time.

* Natural appeal. If you grew up with the notion that a beautiful garden has a flowerbed with blooms and shrubs at prescribed heights surrounding a cool, green lawn, the idea of naturalizing instead can take a little getting used to. But do a little research and observe what others do with their yards.

You may discover the beauty of a shocking blue Ceanothus, also called California Lilac. You might find yourself enchanted by the lovely apricot blooms of Sticky Monkey Flower. Then there’s the crimson red of Penstemon and Indian Paintbrush. And don’t forget the poppies, from the wacky Matilija Poppies (those are the ones that look like fried eggs) to our state flower, the California poppy.

For residents of greater San Luis Obispo, a landscape full of natural materials and native plants can be a beautiful, practical choice.

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