Safer water-saving landscape guidelines in California
Water-saving landscapes are good for the environment, but are they safe for the community? As people strive to make home and commercial landscapes more sustainable, drought-tolerant plants are being used more frequently. When toxic plants are used in the wrong places, there is a greater chance that people and pets will be harmed. Gardeners have ended up in the hospital because they have gotten the toxic sap of fire sticks in their eyes. Additionally, yucca and bougainvillea have sharp spines that can puncture people and should not be planted too close to sidewalks. Any part of the Sago palm, including the seeds which may roll into the sidewalk, is toxic to pets if chewed.
University of California Cooperative Extension’s Planting Safely in Drought-Tolerant Landscapes website provides summary information and shows gardeners how to enjoy these plants safely. During a workshop, 100% of participants committed to improving the safety of their landscape. “I had a friend whose dog ate a leaf of a Sago palm and nearly died. It was a shock to learn that some of our favorite plants can be so toxic!” said one Master Gardener.