California native landscaping

gardenweb88(9)April 30, 2013

Is there any concern about creating a fire hazard ( or a visit from the fire dept) with installing california native grasses in the front yard of a home in So Cal? I'm interested in planting patches of the native grasses every few feet or so interspersed with other plants of similar height, like shrubs.

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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Are you in a High Fire Severity Zone? If not then no. If so then yes but with qualifications. It depends on which HFSZ you are in, but if you keep them green and watered during the summer you will most likely be fine. If you don't give them supplemental irrigation, you will have to cut them back to about 6". But if you are in a HFSZ then you will also have to perform fire abatement on the shrubs too. Contact your neighborhood firehouse.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:29PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

which species are you considering?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:31PM
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gardenweb88(9)

I haven't decided on a specific species yet. I was looking at Purple Three Awn, but that's a bit costly to procure at $9/ packet the cheapest I could find. I think I'll order from Larner Seeds since the prices are cheapest and I don't need bulk quantities. Just really need a twelve inch bunch here and there over a 15' by 15' area.

http://www.larnerseeds.com/_pages/native_grass_seed.html

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 5:49PM
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gobluedjm

Check with your city gov't also. Some cities only allow certain % of lawn to be torn out.
Couple years ago was a story on the news in Glendale. They fined a homeowner who put in all natives to save on their water bill....yes Glendale has their own water dept not part of ladwp idiots.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2013 at 8:15PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I haven't grown purple three awn, but it looks like you will need some supplemental irrigation even though it likes to dry out a bit in the summer.

goblue, wasn't that in a historic zone or something?

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 11:15AM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

I just bought one Purple Three Awn in a 4" pot...it's already in seed, so I'll just multiply from that....

    Bookmark   May 1, 2013 at 11:22AM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I would love for you to come and take all my native plants AKA weeds away.

We are in a fire area on county property, and we are in full renovation mode. At least there is a pool and tile roofs, but 1.4 acres on a hillside is a tough challenge to clear.

Our neighbor knew the contractor/builder when the house was built in the 80's, and the dude was so afraid of fires, he put irrigation lines clear to the bottom of the hill. We hope to find those lines when we clear it, keep it clear, and have sprinklers ready to go should we need them.

We are gradually planting green trees and grape vines, but we've got some existing oaks, pines, and palms, and those are a big threat if that dry brush catches on fire.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2013 at 12:08PM
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publickman

Glendale has apparently done a 180 degree switch, according to this article, encouraging native planting. They do continue to ban artificial turf in front yards, however, which is not a bad idea IMO.

I have almost no turf in my front yard in Westchester, and some of my neighbors have removed all grass and replaced it with succulents, cactus, and rocks, which I think is pretty. I don't have native plants, but I did try to put drought resistant plants in and have been removing some of the high water use plants that came with the house. I do have grass in my back yard, however.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:27PM
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wcgypsy(10 / Sunset 23)

Very nice..replacing the lawns is so much more fun and interesting. Lawns have never appealed to me....so many interesting plants one could grow in that space instead, as is shown in your pic.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2013 at 1:34PM
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dak56(9)

California has lost so much of its native grasses, it's great that you want plant them. For the front of your house though, I think the native buckwheat would be better, bringing in beneficials and providing less fire hazard. In our area, the fire dept starts sending out mow notices to homeowners right when they start looking good, as natives bloom after noxious weeds.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 11:45AM
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lgteacher(SCal)

Depending on where you live the fire department may have a list of which plants can't be grown. If you're in an urban area, that is unlikely, but if you're up in the hills, there probably is a list.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2013 at 1:43PM
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greenwitch(Sz19 SoCal)

If you plant cool season grasses they will be dormant during the fire season (Cut them back & disguise the stubs with perennials that thrive in the heat.). Purple 3-awn is really easy to grow from seeds - it is a warm season grass. Not great around pets because of the awns. Bouteloua gracilis is a gorgeous 3' fountain but warm season. Festuca, Desert needlegrass, Canyon Prince wild rye are some of the cool season grasses. Bunch grasses seem very hard to capture their beauty in photographs but I wouldn't garden without them now.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 5:56PM
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hansie

i have a california grassland as my front yard, and i find purple needlegrass stays very green until late summer, when you go out and weed whack it to about 8 inches. other than that i have a fire strip, just an empty pathway covered with sand. the plants on the other side of the strip are all low to the ground and fire retardant.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2014 at 1:21AM
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