Locals Only - Native Plant Gardening to Protect our Surf Breaks

This is the ninth of a 10-part blog series examining the nature of ASBS, the threats they face and the actions we can take to protect these biological hotspots for future San Diegans.

The vibe was great.  Almost everyone was a beginner since all the hardcore folks went to Scripps Pier, Blacks or WindanSea. It was just me and my fellow kooks.  Except for all the wildlife, that is.  I didn’t know it at the time, but I was surfing in my own Area of Special Biological Significance with all kinds of birds, fish, bat rays, sea lions, leopard sharks, seals and more.  Who could ask for a better spot to learn?  If I ate it over and over again, no worries, I just paddled out and hung out with the dolphins.It seems like the first thing that everyone wants to do when they get to San Diego is learn to surf, and I was one of them.  I talked to a few friends about where I should go surfing for the first time, and the most common advice I got was to stay away from “local spots”-places where a group of people consider themselves to have some sort of ownership of a particular break.  Despite my objections to that limiting access to our shared resources, I wasn’t looking to make enemies right off the bat in San Diego. I headed the advice and ultimately came to find my own beginner spot at La Jolla Shores, and it was perfect.

Now that I live in the same watershed, and having fallen in love with La Jolla Shores back in those days, I feel a true responsibility to protect that part of the ocean and the watershed around it.  And to start, I’m building a native plant garden (or a “locals only garden” as I like to call it). Native plants are truly rad.  Not only do they provide habitat for wildlife locally, in some cases, they actually reduce urban runoff pollution before it makes its way to our ocean.

If it wasn’t for my small condo holding me back, I’d be all about building a garden that included bioswales and retention basins.  The potential for these features to reduce urban runoff is huge. Imagine if everyone in our watersheds built a home that replicated what San Dieguito River Park Foundation has done.

If you still think a native plant garden has to be ugly, I merely refer you the extensive list my friends at Las Piliatas Nursery keep.  Tons of beautiful plants to choose from and they almost all use low amounts or water. How green and beautiful would our be if everyone had my all-time favorite plant, the California Sycamore, growing in their front yard?

For now, I’m starting small, but that’s how big changes start. And hey, if you’re not ready to tear out your entire yard just yet, find an empty space and give this a try.