After more than 10 years of work for a big, Northern California industrial builder, we've been pleased to find that California Native plants can be the basis for these large landscapes. While we've also been successfully using Natives in our apartment projects, the acres and acres of landscape associated with large warehouse & industrial building projects provide much more freedom to design well for these drought management category killers.
The project above contains 2 full acres of planted landscape. Irrigation can be tailored pretty much just to Native plant needs since there is not much pedestrian influence on the planted spaces. Some areas are designed for stormwater retention and/or filtration where engineered basins or "swales" can be planted with California Native grasses. Some municipalities let us plant riparian native trees in them as well.
Municipal regulations, often out of date in terms of water conservation frequently intrude on Native, and even on low water-use plant palettes. Street tree programs, even today, contain medium and high water use trees, and trees that have shallow, sidewalk-lifting, roots. And property management concerns about fruit (and acorn) drop, leaf drop, and even flower drop, can limit Native plant choices. Especially in the Central Valley where parking lot shade ordinances are in play, all of these limitations can result in only a few tree choices - often not Natives.
We often receive requests from Landscape Contractors for substitutions because they find it hard to locate things like Eriogonum 'Grande Rubescens' in numbers up to the thousands on our plans - the numbers, we hope, help the native growers thrive. We're making great progress and thank the growers, installers and maintenance folks for their efforts supporting the changes necessary to bring these great plants into commercial landscapes.