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Going native

Burbank residents redesign front yard with eco-friendly plants in mind.

May 08, 2010|By Riley Hooper

In a neighborhood full of lawns, Jeena and Eric Schoenke’s front yard stands as an anomaly.

The Burbank residents tore out their front lawn and redesigned the space about a year ago. They poured a patio, created a path, brought in several large boulders and planted California native plants.

The yard features many native flowers — Baja snap dragons, tiger lilies and varieties of poppies, penstemon and sage — which are in full bloom. Every plant in the front yard aside from one tree is native, Jeena Schoenke said.


“If you stand at my house and look at my yard, you’ll see red and yellow and purple and orange flowers everywhere,” she said.

The Schoenkes decided to go with a native landscape out of a concern for the environment, she said.

“My husband and I like to consider ourselves green and we really want to have a low impact on mother earth,” Jeena Schoenke said. “We had talked about native plants for a really long time .?.?.? and finally I just said, ‘We’re doing it. It’s time.’ ”

The benefits of a native landscape are almost endless, said Madena Asbell, who works in nursery sales at the Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, an organization dedicated to the preservation of California native plants.

Once they’re established, which can take up to three years, most native plants need little to no water and do not require chemicals or soil amendments to grow. Therefore, a native garden cuts down on water consumption and eliminates the use of harmful herbicides and pesticides, Asbell said.

Native gardens are also important because they provide a habitat for wildlife, Asbell said. Many insects such as caterpillars and butterflies are host-specific and need a certain plant in order to survive.

“Those sorts of relationships are so important for the survival of the plant and the insect,” Asbell said.

In addition, people benefit from native gardens because they tutor us in nature’s ways, Asbell said. A native garden “can put people in closer touch with nature and our seasons as they begin to learn about the relationships between their plants and wildlife, and the natural life cycles of the plants,” she said.

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