by Betty Cooper
It’s a great feeling to see all that trash piled up after a Creek Week Cleanup. But what can we do to help creeks every day, around our own homes? The choices we make in our gardens and home landscaping can contribute to the long-term health of our creeks, even if we don’t happen to live very close to one. That’s because rain and sprinkler water runs drains from our yards into storm drains, carrying many things along with it. The storm drains funnel all that water into creeks and rivers without any processing or filtering, and the runoff contains chemicals and invasive plant seeds that come from our yards. If you are reading this newsletter, you probably already know that you shouldn’t pour anything down the storm drains. You may also know about some of the alternatives to pesticides and herbicides that are safer for the environment. You can get great information about those alternatives at UCDavis Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program and also at City of Sacramento’s Storm Water Pest Control Program. Another solution to creek pollution is to replace large lawn areas and fussy hybrid plants with native plants.
Native plant landscaping is great for the health of creeks because:
- Native plants are more drought tolerant so less watering is necessary; less watering means less run-off.
- They have fewer pest problems so pesticides aren’t necessary.
- They don’t spread invasive seeds that wind up sprouting along the creeks and crowding out natives.
- They are well-adapted to the area and thrive with little or no additional fertilizing.
You can also find excellent plant choices at nurseries such as Corn Flower Farms or California Gardens. Or visit local native gardens like the one at Sacramento’s Historic City Cemetery and the Effie Yeaw Nature Center. Visit the gardens during different seasons, and watch for native plant sales. The California Native Plant Society is holding a sale on Saturday, September 22nd, 9 a.m – 3 p.m. at the Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park, Sacramento. Come see some beautiful plants and meet folks who love native plant gardens.
This article originally appeared in our Summer 2007 Newsletter