It seemed like a good idea.

When I drive to work I pass by this house that was just completed a year ago. The owners have put in a nice fence which I assume is to keep the kids in check. Soon afterword I noticed the grass growing all through the yard. The owners had planted a lawn. It’s a natural inclination. The Blue Oaks (Quercus douglasii), and Live oaks (Quercus agrifolia) which were here before the house are picture perfect with the fresh lawn planted underneath.

Blue and Live Oaks are native throughout the foothills of the Sierra Nevada as well as the coastal range. Being native they have been living with the yearly drought every summer that is a fact of life here. No water, except for the occasional shower falls all summer until mid fall. Well meaning landowners plant lawns under these trees and then irrigate throughout the summer. The irrigation they provide is out of synch with the oaks natural habit of summer drought. As such these oaks have a good chance of dying within 10 years or sooner. They can develop disease associated with the summer irrigation. Suddenly the lawn which accented the oaks picturesque beauty now stands responsible for its death.

It’s an odd feeling driving by this house. It seems to be a young couple with kids who simply wanted to provide a safe and beautiful space. If you are unfamiliar with our native plants it’s easy to change the landscape in such a way as to kill the very trees that give our area its character.