The San Marcos Foothills experienced an exceptionally hot and dry summer along with the rest of the region and we were concerned about the survival of the native seedlings we had just planted. Luckily, with some watering throughout the season, they survived it. Now, after the January rain, invasive plants are surging up from billions of dormant seeds. Our native plants received a head start from irrigation during the summer, but winter can be a critical time for young plants, because they can become overwhelmed by fast-growing non-native annual grasses and other weeds that compete for soil moisture and sun.
We can anticipate a busy season removing the invasive plants from around native needle grass, milkweed, and other native shrubs that we planted last year. We use several techniques to control the weeds, such as spraying them with non-toxic citrus oil (made from orange peels). But this only works on young weeds and it is a bit expensive. When it really comes down to it, we rely on our community and we need volunteer groups in the spring to hand-pull weeds that were missed or that come up in subsequent rains.
We need your help to keep the weeds in check and help the native plants prosper and become vital native habitat for the hundreds of species that rely on the San Marcos Foothills Preserve. Watch your email for announcements of upcoming volunteer workdays at the Preserve. They usually occur on Saturdays from 9 to noon.
Channel Islands Restoration has been the proud steward of the San Marcos Foothills Preserve since 2008. In 2010, CIR staff and volunteers installed over 6,000 plants along Cieneguitas and Atascadero creeks on the Preserve. We then maintained the sites for five years, which included a lot of weeding to reduce competition with the young native plants. As a result the plants became very well established, and today, all sorts of native shrubs, herbs, and trees are thriving at the sites. These native plants have remained healthy and green throughout the drought and continue to provide vital native habitat for close to 100 bird species, dozens of butterfly species, large mammals like coyotes and bobcats, and so much more. If you haven’t seen our restoration sites at the San Marcos Foothills, we highly recommend it. For more information about the Preserve, in addition to plant and animal species lists with photos, head to