Native Plant Gardening
Tahoe native plants provide nectar, pollen, and seeds that
serve as food for native butterflies, insects, birds and other animals.
Unlike natives, most common horticultural plants do not provide
energetic rewards for their visitors and often require supplemental
irrigation and pest control to survive.
Native plants are also advantageous, because:
- Native plants do not require fertilizers and require
fewer toxins than lawns.
- Native plants require less water than lawns.
- Native plants provide shelter and food for wildlife.
- Native plants promote biodiversity and stewardship of
our natural heritage.
- Native plants are beautiful and increase scenic values.
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Tahoe Friendly Native and Adapted Plants
All plants require irrigation while getting established,
however, native plants, once established can be weaned off of irrigation.
Group plants by their sunlight and moisture requirements. The
Native and Adapted Plant List catalogues plants by their
general light requirements. Your local Conservation District
may assist you in identifying the different microclimates on your
property and even provide you with a planting plan for free.
Be sure to visit the North
Lake Tahoe Demonstration Garden in Incline Village and the South
Lake Tahoe Demonstration Garden in South Lake Tahoe for more information.
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Water harvesting is capturing and using rainwater for landscape
or gardening irrigation. Harvesting rain for landscaping needs
in Tahoe makes a lot of sense. Rain is a high-quality, free
source of water that can easily be used for irrigation with minimal
Consider capturing rain water in a barrel or cistern, or diverting
your gutter downspouts into landscaped areas or onto your lawn.
Before you go outside and stick a plastic garbage can under a downspout,
there are a few things to consider. Linking two or more barrels
together, or placing a barrel at each downspout from your roof,
allows you to capture more rainwater. It’s important to always have
an overflow pipe to allow excess water to safely vent. Remember
to winterize your rain barrels, so they won’t freeze over the winter.
Benefits of Water Harvesting
- Save money by using “free” water.
- Reduce the use of treated drinking water for landscape irrigation.
- Keep stormwater out of the municipal storm drain system.
- Decrease stormwater runoff pollution and protect Lake Tahoe.
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If you have little or no space for a traditional garden,
then container gardening is your best bet. Container gardens
can also be a charming way to embellish your patio, entryway or
deck. Container gardens are also a great solution if you are
considering an herb garden as they can be placed conveniently near
the kitchen door or in a kitchen window box. Although container
gardens generally require more watering and feeding, they are quite
easy to maintain and care for.
Your container must have drainage holes. The container must
also hold up to freezing temperatures. Soil expands when it
freezes, so it’s best to choose a forgiving material, such as wood.
If planting a tree or shrub, make sure that the container
is heavy enough so that it won’t blow over from being top heavy.
It's a good idea to cover the topsoil with mulch to help keep the
soil from drying out. During hot weather, it’s best to water
early in the morning or in the late evening to minimize evaporation.
You will also need to make sure that you provide your plants
compost or organic fertilizer. If you provide the necessary
ingredients to keep your plants happy, containers can be a keystone
in the small space or urban garden.
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Xeriscaping refers to the conservation of water through
creative landscaping. Xeriscaping generally requires
less water, fertilizer, maintenance, and pest control than traditional
landscaping. Because pesticides and fertilizers can inadvertently
harm beneficial organisms, as well as impact air and water quality,
reducing their use is a good idea. And, of course, using less
of these materials saves money.
Xeriscapes do not have a single look—almost any landscaping style
can be achieved. While native plants are accustomed to Tahoe’s
climate and therefore good choices for water and waste efficient
landscapes, xeriscaping may include Tahoe-adapted species as well.
Consult the Tahoe
Friendly Native and Adapted Plant List or Chapter 7 of the Home
Landscaping Guide for Tahoe and Vicinity for a list of suitable
plants for xeriscaping.
- Conserves water. For most of North America,
over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscape and
lawns. Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 -
- Provides wildlife habitat. Use of native
plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for
- No fertilizers or pesticides. Using plants
native to your area will eliminate the need for chemical supplements.
Sufficient nutrients are provided by healthy organic soil.
- Less maintenance. Aside from occasional
pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal. Watering requirements
are low, and can be met with simple irrigation systems.
- Increases property value. Xeriscape can
raise property values which may offset the cost of installation.
Fundamentals of xeriscape:
- Planning and design
- Create practical turf areas - manageable sizes and shapes of
the right grass species.
- Select low water requiring plants - select native or adaptive
plants and group plants of similar water needs together.
- Use soil amendments - like compost, manure, leaf mold, etc.
- Use mulches according to Defensible Space guidelines - to reduce
evaporation & to keep the soil cool.
- Irrigate efficiently - with properly designed sprinkler systems.
- Maintain the landscape properly
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Master Gardener Programs
Master Gardeners provide a valuable service to the community by helping
Cooperative Extension meet this demand for information. For
more information about becoming a Master
Gardener in Nevada, please call (775) 784-4848. For
info on California Master Gardener Programs call (530) 621-5512.
The Master Gardener Program grew out of a need to meet
an enormous increase in requests from home gardeners for horticultural
information. Around the country, Master Gardeners have become
a vital part of University Cooperative Extension's ability to provide
consumers with up-to-date, reliable information. Master Gardening
has also become a fun and useful volunteer activity, which has given
its participants a sense of community spirit, accomplishment and
Master Gardeners provide free, research-based horticulture information
to Tahoe residents. They are volunteers who learn advanced
plant science skills from at least 50 hours of classroom instruction
by professionals. After training, Master Gardeners volunteer
a minimum of at least 50 hours a year to pass along their newly
acquired knowledge through the media, talks and workshops. They
answer phone calls, send out informational materials and develop
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