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4 alternatives to grass if Santa Barbara bans outdoor watering




A newly-installed Kalanchoe, a type of drought-tolerant succulent plant, is seen in the front yard of a residence in the San Fernando Valley area in Los Angeles on July 17, 2014.
A newly-installed Kalanchoe, a type of drought-tolerant succulent plant, is seen in the front yard of a residence in the San Fernando Valley area in Los Angeles on July 17, 2014.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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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

File photo of California lilacs.
File photo of California lilacs.
dbrooker1 via Flickr Creative Commons

Coyote brush

File photo of coyote brush.
File photo of coyote brush.
Mathesont via Flickr Creative Commons

Manzanitas

File photo of manzanitas.
File photo of manzanitas.
Zander x via Flickr Creative Commons

Low-growing sages

File photo of Sonoma sage, a type of low-growing sage.
File photo of Sonoma sage, a type of low-growing sage.
Jmaughn via Flickr Creative Commons

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