Johnson hopes for a drought of invasives in 'water-wise' yards
Many Californians appear to be taking up Gov. Jerry Brown's call for the removal of 50 million square feet of lawn energetically and enthusiastically. But all that energy may be misplaced: As homeowners and businesses seek out drought-tolerant, low-water plants at local nurseries and big-box garden departments, they may unwittingly be picking up invasive plants that wreak havoc on the state's ecology.
While consciousness is being raised through organizations such as the California Invasive Plant Council (Cal-IPC) and PlantRight, confusion still abounds. Cal-IPC Executive Director Doug Johnson recalls receiving an email one day from a frustrated local volunteer naturalist as Mayor Eric Garcetti was preparing to go on television to talk about drought-tolerant landscaping using her neighbor's yard as a "laudatory" example. "It was filled with pampas grass and Mexican feather grass," both rapidly rising invasive threats, Johnson says. "I could hear the anguish in her tone."