Description and Benefits
Over the past 150 years California has seen a shift in its grassland vegetation from a mixture of perennial grasses and annual grasses/forbs to a system dominated by annual grasses/forbs (many of them introduced and invasive). Armed with rapid growth and prolific seed production, annual grasses effectively compete with slow-growing, long-lived native perennial grasses for light and soil water. For this reason reestablishing native perennial grasses requires careful human management of the land, as well as patience. Native perennial grasses provide many benefits associated with their deep roots, which provide superior soil stabilization to annual grasses and allow for deeper water penetration into the soil in the winter. This in turn can help reduce soil compaction and major runoff. Many perennial grasses remain green longer than annuals and can provide good forage for grazing animals.
When to establish native perennial grasses
Native perennial grasses can be reestablished in any grassland, oak woodland or landscape, regardless of current land management. Actively grazed rangelands can provide an ideal opportunity for native perennial grass establishment, although changes will most likely need to be made in grazing management.