In Merced, California (2 hours south on Highway 99), they opened up a new University of California campus. UC Merced was unique compared to other campuses – Merced itself is in the heart of the valley with steaming hot weather and farmland all around it.
Because of its location, the designers decided that they didn’t want to simply decorate the campus and make it look like other prestigious universities. They wanted to design a sustainable campus that would fit in with the natural landscape of Merced.
The Native Plant Landscape Design
In order to both conserve water and fit in with Merced’s natural appearance, the University used what’s known as “Native Plant Landscaping.” They planted only native plants in the area, and took advantage of xeriscaping (drought resistant landscaping) techniques in order to reduce water use.
Native plant landscaping is an interesting idea. Some landscapers go a step further – they design a landscape around the plants already on a property, so that they do not have to remove any native plants, and instead complement the plants to enhance their beauty.
Why Native Plants?
Native plant landscaping is an interesting idea. Native plants are generally adapted for the environment, which means that they require significantly less upkeep – if they require upkeep at all. They also pay homage to the city, and fit in with the natural landscape better than plants important from other cities or countries.
They aren’t perfect, of course. First, the drought has made it difficult for even native plants to survive as well as they used to, and when you use native plants you’re a bit more limited in choices. But native landscaping is an interesting way to design your landscape and could help you cut down on your water bill, especially when combined with other xeriscaping techniques.