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4 alternatives to grass if Santa Barbara bans outdoor watering

Santa Barbara may be known for beautiful gardens and lawns, but it's no exception to California's five-year drought. The area's City Council is considering implementing a complete ban on outdoor watering, leaving the future of green lawns in limbo.  

Lili Singer, director of special projects and adult education at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants, joined "AirTalk" to discuss native alternatives to the conventional suburban lawn.

While some people may be hesitant to forego green grass for succulents, Singer said there are many options beyond cacti.

"I really want to dispel a myth that many people have about drought-tolerant [and] native plant gardens," Singer said. "Most of our plants in California are not succulents. We actually have beautiful leafy, fragrant colorful shrubs and trees and ground covers and wildflowers."

Here are four California-native plants that Singer recommends for a drought-friendly lawn space:

California lilacs

Coyote brush

Manzanitas

Low-growing sages

When transitioning between landscapes, it’s important to note that most plants don't immediately become drought-tolerant.

“Even our most drought tolerant plants and heat tolerant California natives need to get established,” Singer said. “That takes usually a year of regular deep watering.”

Guests: 

Joshua Haggmark, water resources manager for the City of Santa Barbara

Stephen Gregory, KPCC environment and science editor

Lili Singer, director of special projects and adult education at the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants