California Native Groundcovers For Coastal California

California Native Groundcovers For Coastal California

Groundcover plantings are a useful design tool for landscape architects. When properly used, groundcovers tie disparate elements together, create visual unity, and suppress weeds.

Native Plants For Groundcovers

Native plants also create wildlife habitat and preserve an area’s unique regional character. These California natives use low to moderate amounts of supplemental irrigation and thrive in coastal landscapes.

California Native Plants

Ceanothus is a good, low water-use groundcover. Photo by Molly M/Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Ceanothus is a good, low water-use groundcover. Photo by Molly M/Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Ceanothus grisseus horizontalis ‘Yankee Point’ — Carmel Creeper

This California lilac is a low, spreading shrub that grows 1 to 3 feet tall and spread five or more feet wide. Blue flowers compliment the dark-green foliage in spring. Plant on five-foot centers. WUCOLS Category: low water-use.

Arctostaphyllos 'Pacific Mist'. Photo by Mathesont/Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Arctostaphyllos ‘Pacific Mist’. Photo by Mathesont/Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Arctostaphyllos ‘Pacific Mist’ — Pacific Mist Manzanita

Pacific Mist Manzanita grows about 12 inches tall and spreads 6 to 8 feet wide. Small, urn-shaped flowers bloom in early spring. This beautiful native groundcover tolerates coastal conditions well. Plant in well-drained soil; intolerant of heavy, wet clay soil.
WUCOLS Category: low water-use.

Baccharis foliage. Photo by MiguelVieira/Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Baccharis foliage. Photo by MiguelVieira/Flickr. Creative Commons License.

Bacchharis pilularis ‘Twin Peaks’ —Dwarf Coyotebrush

Dwarf Coyotebrush is a low-growing, spreading shrub that is commonly used as a spreading groundcover on slopes. While it does not have the showy flowers that the other two plants have, Coyotebrush features bright, medium-green foliage and fills in rapidly. Plant on 6 foot centers to keep the plants from smothering one another. WUCOLS Category: low water-use.

Plants on the California Supplemental Exam

The California Supplemental Exam for landscape architects asks several questions about appropriate plant material for the state. Landscape architect candidates need to know which California-native plants are proper for certain situations. Know your native and adapted plants and their water use requirements so you can easily answer any question about plant material on exam day.

About

John is a landscape architect who is currently preparing to take the California Supplemental Exam to become licensed in California. He is currently a licensed professional landscape architect in Georgia and Florida. John graduated from California State University, Pomona with a BSLA degree in landscape architecture in 1997 and has extensive practice experience in residential and commercial landscape design.

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