Uncategorized

Should smaller lawns and drought-tolerant plants be required?

Elizabeth Stump in Castro Valley, CA recently sent us this story about new laws being debated inWaterSprinkler the San Francisco  Bay area that would:

  • Limit lawn around new homes to 1/4 of the total landscape.  (More is allowed if homeowners can prove they're conserving water in other ways.) 
  • Require that 80 percent of the remaining landscape be native or drought-tolerant plants, all of which must be surrounded by 2" of mulch. 
  • Require "effective irrigation systems".  (Does this mean irrigation is required or that if you have irrigation, it must be effective?) 

This is on top of statewide water restrictions that went into effect this month mandating high-efficiency toilets and putting restrictions on the use of water in the garden.  (Hey, Californians, tell us more about that.)

About all that, Stump says: "Though I find my own personal need for expansive lawns unnecessary, I do
find this legislating trend disconcerting.  Personally I find this in the same
league as when Berkeley was going to mandate everyone get white/light colored
roofs."  

Anybody else disconcerted, or do you think it's high time the government started regulating home landscapes?

Stump goes on to enlighten us Easterners about what irrigation really conserves water, and why it should be included in any legislation:

One thing they did not cover, that I wish they did, was the use of
subsurface drip irrigation systems.  Some years back at the San Francisco Flower
& Garden Show, the Urban Farm Store did a lecture on better irrigation and
water usage
[pdf]. They covered subsurface drip irrigation and talked about a test case where
there was sections of median lawns at El Toro base, near San Diego, and how the
old traditional sprinkler head system lead to much of the water being blown away
from target zones and high evaporation rates, due to the near constant winds and
low humidity.  They put in a subsurface drip irrigation system and used much
less water and the grass lived and thrived.

I was so impressed with their case study, I plan on installing subsurface
drip irrigation when I redo my sprinkler system – as I have none and I'm relying
on battery timers, hoses and hand-placed sprinklers.

What Water Conservation Laws are you Seeing?
Stump ends with the suggestion we ask our dry-climate readers sort of water-use mandates are in effect or being considered where they live.  And if they're in effect, are they working?

Posted by on January 31, 2010 at 5:51 am, in the category Uncategorized.
Comments are off for this post

52 Responses to “Should smaller lawns and drought-tolerant plants be required?”

  1. martin kemp says:

    I agree 100%. I have been turning my yard into a dry tolerant scape and plan on continuing to do so even though the draught is over. No grass, mostly shrubs, tree’s and interesting foliages. I treated myself to one small area of floral that gets it’s moisture from a rain barrel.

  2. The mandated part bothers me, too. Maybe taxing more lawn acreage and charging more for water would do more.

    Florida is divided into 5 water management districts. Each district makes its own rules for water use. Our district allows watering on two days of the week during daylight savings time, but only one during the standard time during the winter months. The days are set. And many people are upset that the only day that they can water in the winter is during the weekend–odd addresses on Saturdays and even addresses on Sundays. I see people watering on off days all the time, so until there are some teeth in the regulations, people will do what they want.

  3. I don’t agree with legislation that forces homeowners’ landscaping decisions but I am pleased that the pending legislation is forcing landscapers and homeowners to rethink all aspects of lawn and looking at smarter irrigation and grass species choices. It will be interesting to see how thoroughly the water-use mandates are discussed at the upcoming CA Landscape Contractors meetings this coming week….

  4. greg draiss says:

    Absofuc&inglutely not!!!
    Mr. Kemp I hope you never move to my town and run for election on a platform of telling me what to plant and where

    REVOLUTION, REVOLUTION, Stop the garden Nazis
    The TROLL

  5. Legislating landscapes seems like the wrong route to take because the whole thing is so subjective, so site specific and well that depends.

    I’m with Ginny in that a better way is to charge more or maybe even physically limit water consumption itself. That is the real issue. It can’t be that difficult to come up with a water meter that could warn you at a certain point and then actually shut off your water for a period of time if you go over.

    The reactionary TROLLS of the world as is their nature foam at the mouth and let the spittle fly, never wanting to deal with a real problem or offer any solutions. How typical.

  6. Lynn says:

    This is already happening extensively in the West, if not by gov’t outright then by homeowner’s associations, master-planned communities, or water dept “turf replacement” rebates that are too good to ignore. When I left Las Vegas, a friend had just bought into a community where no lawn was allowed, only xeriscaping with drip irrigation. Of course you can’t paint your door red or leave your car in the driveway, either.

  7. Ali M says:

    Lesgislation rather than education, dumb!

  8. Ali M says:

    Oops, I meant legislation.

  9. Seems like I’m with most people on this: Saving water = good, legislating exact lawn size = dumb. If the issue is saving water, then they should limit that directly. Let people use X amount of water (or make it significantly more expensive after a certain number of gallons per months) and let people figure out how they want to make that work — with a lawn or without.

  10. Laura Munoz says:

    I agree with Ginny above. I, too, don’t think there should be laws that mandate homeowners’ landscaping decisions. With that said, I also think conservation of water is critical.

    Here, in Central Texas, many Homeowner Associations mandate lawns must be kept green. With this past summer’s drought and water restrictions in effect in even the smallest towns, this was next to impossible, not to mention wasteful. Perhaps we should start with education of the Texas HOA’s. (I say this because I know of someone in an HOA who was fined for not keeping their lawn green in the drought.)

    While I think a green lawn can be lovely, I personally don’t have one. I have a “lawn” of Bermuda and wild grasses in full sun that volunteered from my neighbor’s yard. I never water or fertilize it. Sometimes it’s pretty, sometimes it’s not. The lawn isn’t a priority for me like the garden beds are, and it would be outrageously expensive to keep it green in drought conditions or otherwise.

    In regard to water restrictions, I think there needs to be flexibility. For example, my one day to water was Sunday, but watering two 85 ft beds and another 100 ft bed on Sunday before 10 a.m or after 7 p.m. is difficult for only one person to do with church, laundry, & other life events. Saturday would have worked much better; however, there was no flexibility in the rules.

  11. eliz says:

    Well, it’s all very well to say that we shouldn’t have legislation, but the fact is that in almost every municipality we already do, and it’s worse than this. I would much rather have the city requiring me to conserve water than to mow down my high perennials in the front yard.

  12. Claire Splan says:

    I think the carrot-and-stick approach is better than legislation. I’d rather see heavy water users (whether they’re using the water for lawns or just wasting it in general) heavily fined by the utility companies and I’d like to see those of us who keep our usage low given some credit. It’s more effective, more fair, and there’s no issue with who’s going to enforce it.

  13. M.B. Allen says:

    Public education and persuasion are better than legislation and can be very effective, too.

    There are reason, good ones, why people want lawns — but they should be seen as a luxury, not an entitlement.

  14. Pam J. says:

    Ahh, those green lawns. They have certainly caused the world a whole lotta trouble. I know that many of you know about the link between green lawns and 9/11 but here’s the scoop again for those who haven’t heard it yet.
    From http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1253796 (2003)
    “Egyptian writer …Sayyid Qutb spent the better half of 1949 in Greeley, Colo., studying curriculum at Colorado State Teachers College… What he saw prompted him to condemn America as a soulless, materialistic place that no Muslim should aspire to live in.
    “Qutb pointed out many things Americans take for granted as examples of the nation’s culture of greed — for example, the green lawns in front of homes in Greeley.
    “Qutb became a leader of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood on his return to Egypt. ..he was later accused of plotting against the government and executed in 1966. Qutb’s writings would later become the theoretical basis for many radical Islamic groups of today — including al Qaeda.”

  15. Jean says:

    I say the government should limit the water usage and educate the public about what will work in their yards with limited water. But don’t legistlate exactly what plants must be in place (I can imagine the nightmare about what’s grandfathered in and what’s not). My in-laws live in CA and where they live they have, believe it or not, an UNLIMITED amount of water they can use. That’s because they’re not billed on how much they use. Just one flat rate. When I first heard that I was flabbergasted, especially since we were living in Texas at that time, where droughts were (are) the norm. Public education is key to the crisis. And maybe some stimulus money to redo old yards??

  16. GenYgardener says:

    I’m okay with such legislation as long as it only applies to land undergoing development. In other words, the developers have to comply with the regulations, but they would cease affect once the home is owner-occupied.

    I think we would see a major difference in water usage and public understanding of xeriscaping if all new subdivisions follow the regulations. I doubt many new homeowners would immediately rip out the plants and put in more lawn, especially after they see how much money they save in lawn services, fertilizer, water, etc.

  17. Will the law appply equally to office parks, shopping centers, etc. Putting all on home owners backs is no fair. Should start with commercial installation and new developments, then go on to the single home owner, who hopefully by that point would already be taking note and making the transition on their own.

  18. Elizabeth Stump says:

    I never said in my original email that subsurface drip irrigation should be included in legislation, but implied – though maybe I wasn’t specific enough – that I was disappointed the article in the San Jose Mercury News did not include any efficient irrigation examples, such as subsurface drip irrigation as a counterpoint to the proposed legislation of lawn size to reduce water consumption.

    I am very much against the idea of legislating the mandatory use of subsurface drip irrigation, but I would be in favor of it voluntarily, especially if it was included in rebate programs from the water company, much like getting rebates after putting in more energy efficient appliances.

    Also, with the use of native plants, natives in California do not alway equate to low-water use. California has a wide variety of climates, from coastal rain forests to Mediterranean to alpine to steppes to desert. A bunch of native ferns that grow in a coastal redwood forest may be native, but not water efficient in the middle of one of the hotter Bay Area microclimates, such as Livermore where it BAKES at 110+ in the middle of summer. And there are non-natives that are not invasive and use very little water, such as many such plants from South Africa.

    Common use should be used instead of knee-jerk legislation to a address water usage.

  19. susan harris says:

    Elizabeth, glad you cleared up my misrepresentation of your position.
    See Linda Chalker-Scott’s teachings about native plants tomorrow right here – echoing your excellent points. Here too in the East, you can’t expect plants that are native to wet areas or woodlands to be drought-tolerant, esp in the sun. Again with the overgeneralization,right there in proposed legislation.

  20. Gloria says:

    I don’t agree that water use is the only concern here. More and more munincipalities are learning the hard way about the cost of storm water runoff. Lawn isn’t much better than impervious surfaces at absorbing fast moving water.
    I do not believe that being forced to have less lawn is any different from forcing so many to have lawn.

    Water restriction and or price increase would probably help some but education about watersheds and runoff pollution and what can be done will need to continue.

  21. Gloria says:

    opps..spell check…municipalities.

  22. I live in the Great State of “You are not the Boss of Me” (Texas), and the citizens DO NOT like to be told they can’t do something. So when our city’s reservoir starting running dangerously low one summer, the city council and mayor called for a day of prayer.

    This did not have the desired effect.

    So the next year, in even more trouble, they announced that they were instituting water restrictions, but they wouldn’t actually enforce them. They were, in effect, “a request” from the city.

    You know what? It worked. So much so that the city lost revenue from charging for water because people stopped watering their lawns all the time in the summer and started moving to more xeric landscapes.

    Our reservoir is still dangerously low, however, which is what you get when you have big population centers living in semi-arid or arid regions, It’s just a fact of life. So the reality is, we need to do even more.

    So yes, I think we ought to start showing some self-leadership and restricting landscapes that use too much water.

    Sorry, but I don’t think “personal liberty” always trumps everything all the time.

  23. tibs says:

    Water has always been way underpriced in America. People think it is a right to have as much as they want and that it shouldn’t cost them much of anything at all. Have a miminum useage and charge more per gallon for any use over that amount. Flat rates and no metering is just wrong. People are willing to pay a lot for high speed internet, cable tv, cell phones but god forbid if their town raises their water rates. Anyone in office when that happens is guarenteed not to get re-elected.

    I think I like living in a fly over state. We have water. And when we have lots of water it floods, but houses don’t slide off cliffs. We don’t have lots of land use rules (see The Troll’s comment above.) That pretty much sums up the attitude when you try to impose any kind of regulations. If you want to get tarred and feathered and rode out of town on a rail just say the ultimage four letter word: Rural Zoning.

  24. Lawn is still the magic cloak. If you only raise water prices, then only the wealthy will have lawns, and the magical image will be reinforced. The lawn is a parcel of our system. Changing the system will meet resistance in myriad forms, and one news story that shows how foolish this is (or was) will change the public perception and the tide against any reformation will rise.

    Too many people with the same wants. Too little water to fulfill those wants. What should we do?

    People will drive off this cliff since we built a road right to its edge. Put up a few signs that say “Cliff Ahead” and some will read the signs and put on the brakes, but some will drive off. Build a bridge and we can all go safely over the cliff. What is our bridge over our water shortages? People, we’re on the road, going fast…

  25. Curmudgeon Geographer says:

    If a state can control how much water flows through your toilet or sprinkler, there is absolutely no limit on what else they can tell control about your life. So, rather than forbid more water from flowing to a citizen’s home, just progressively price increased water use like they do for income taxes. With the extra earned from water splurgers going to reduce water consumption in areas of poverty.

  26. Curmudgeon Geographer says:

    “If you only raise water prices, then only the wealthy will have lawns, . . .”

    So? Wouldn’t that be a good thing for water shortages — only the wealthy having water-wasting lawns? Is class warfare more important than conserving resources for the greatest number?

  27. As an horticultural critic, mi position is blunt, abrasive without margins to debate.
    Lawns, particularly in GOLF, are
    a waste of water, plants requiring
    pollution by insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizers,
    gas, oil, smoke and NOISE for keep up.
    People with lawns are no different
    than cigarette smokers, therefore
    should be treated with egual weight. By the state and society
    in general.

  28. So be wise, smart start thinking
    not in your sterile lawn, but in NATURE, flora and fauna, after all
    they do not need US.
    Plant something else!

  29. Deirdre says:

    In Seattle, water rates increase with usage. The more water you use the higher your rates. They also educate people about wasting water; not watering in the middle of the day, not watering the driveway or sidewalk, letting the grass go dormant. In summer, we change our name from the Emerald City to the Amber City because a lot of people do let their lawns go dormant. In a dire situation, legislation might be neccesary, but education and higher water rates do work.

  30. Deirdre says:

    Even drought tolerant plants need to be watered until established. Forcing everyone to rip out their landscapes and replant would cause massive, if temporary, water use.

  31. Matt says:

    I would MUCH rather they try to change behavior by increasing the cost of water. Considering how (absurdly) heavily CA water is subsidized, I think it could be easily justified.

  32. There is a lot of misinformation out there about the benefits of drought tolerant plants. Most people are unaware that these plants tend to look ugly during a drought and beg to be watered. When it rains, they drink up more water than non-drought tolerant plants, thereby obstructing the conservation of rain water they were originally intended to protect.

  33. Legislation is required because people do not conserve voluntarily.
    Simply pricing the price of water higher and higher does not discourage the wealthy and the ignorant from over watering or installing great swaths of water hogging lawn, inappropriate irrigation systems and poorly planned softscaping.
    I know this because I offer water auditing services as part of my landscape business.
    It is not uncommon in my area of N. California that a monthly water bill is $ 750 to $ 1200.00 a month.
    In my area 75 % of a homeowners water use is used for outdoor landscape use.
    With proper landscape planning a tremendous amount of water can be saved and the only way this is going to occur is if it is legislated.
    For those not familiar with our new water ordinances this does not mean that you cannot have a lawn or your perennial garden.
    What it does do though is makes you get involved and educated in how to plant and plan environmentally sound gardens.

  34. I still think a smart water meter is better and more direct than legislating landscaping. To avoid class wars in part, just upping the price as consumption rises is a potential problem. Those who can afford it won’t conserve and that takes water away from the rest of the community. To be fair water should be apportioned on a per capita/ numbers per household basis and the same rates applied to all. Overuse gets charged more and after a certain point of overuse the water meter could close for the rest of the month.

    I am willing to bet that when push comes to flush the TROLLS of the world will opt for a functioning throne over their God given American water hogging lawns. A few trips to the Walmart to buy water with a bucket on their heads and the idea of conserving water is bound to penetrate even the thickest skulls.

  35. Joan says:

    I am appalled that government can dictate what homeowners do on land that they pay for and are taxed heavily on. I understand the need for conservation but there’s gotta be some other way that doesn’t infringe on their rights and individuality as home/land owners.

  36. Hey Christopher C in NC,
    I wonder how much those ‘smart meters’ would cost in my neck of the woods ?
    Currently our dumb ones can cost you about $ 35 grand and in one town, Bolinas, it can cost you a half million dollars for a water meter connection !

  37. I think providing incentives to shrink lawns and plant drought-resistant landscapes would work better than mandates. Could be some combo of higher water prices, rebates, free or discounted plants, etc. And doesn’t all have to come from govt. — nonprofit orgs or green businesses could jump in to help.

  38. Michelle D. Think green jobs, the new economy. That half million price tag for the water hook up isn’t just for the meter or its installation. How much would you charge a client to install some metering device on the main water line of their irrigation system and hook it up to the irrigation clock?

  39. donna says:

    Incentives for lower water use and offer credits for low-water use landscaping. Problem solved.

  40. Christopher,
    Unfortunately that $ 500,000.00 price tag is sadly just for a water meter.
    There is a building moratorium in that town due to a shortage of water.
    A shrewd property owner is selling their water meter and the cost is a cool half million – meter only , not the land or any structure.

    I don’t think people comprehend the severity of our water shortage here in California.
    I’m making the most of our situation and have added water conservation and water wise landscape management services to my repertoire.

  41. It seems reasonable to reward using less. If you use under a volume per month, your rate is this…If you use more than that a month, your rate is this…
    OF course, this isn’t about saving money at the outset, efficiency often requires investment.

    Joan,
    Hopefully government is the rational mediator in the war for water. Intellectually, I believe that none of us own our land, but simply own the rights to the buildings on it. We lease the land from the commons, our payments being in the form of taxes. Either way, you still can do much of what you want with your land, but the water may be coming from somewhere else, and belongs to everyone, not just you. So do what you like, payer of high taxes, but not at the expense of drinking water for all.

    We are lucky that the corporations haven’t pressed for control of the water system. Then, even the rain that falls becomes part of the system and, it could be pressed, that you couldn’t even collect rain on your property.

    Curmudgeon G,
    I was not intending a judgement about the wealthy only having lawns. Although, it would be strange to go back a few hundred years to the time when only the wealthy had lawns. And when it comes down to thirst, it is all too easy to imagine those with lawns having enough to drink, and the power to protect it. I’m sorry, but we’re all on this ship together, and in my mind -where I’m captain, the penthouse goes down with the bunkhouse. Sacrifice should be shared, and since the people allow those with wealth to keep it, they sure as sh*t should chip in their fair share of sacrifice.

    The lawn is at once practical, yet resource inefficient. It’s one of our water use dragons, and an obvious one to slay, yet it seems unnecessary to some and absolute to others.

    Grasshoppers and Ants, Grasshoppers and Ants.

  42. “Disconcerting?” You wanna know why California is up to their windmills in debt, and losing businesses and population faster than anywhere in the country, it’s because of governmental attitudes and legislation like this, times the one million nanny-state laws already on their books.

    And I’m a guy who hates lawns.

    RENEGADE GARDENER

  43. Michelle D. if that is the true state of affairs then I am going to buy a small truckload of $125.00 water meters and head to Bolinas. For an extra $30.00, total of $500,030.00 you can get a smart meter with the tiny brain smaller than a cell phones that will monitor and display your water use and can open and close a valve. I could make enough in one day to retire and never have to prune a rose again.

  44. tibs says:

    It is not the meter that costs so much in the Cal. town, it is the hook-up fee. Read the Milagro Bean Field War for a sly funny look at water wars. Don’t rent the movie, it doesn’t even compare to the book. And of course the author’s name eludes me.

  45. Today, in my local newspaper, The Novato Advance, there is a story about the plan for a community garden.
    The local water district , North Marin Water, required $ 150,000.00 for a water meter hook up.
    Instead the community gardeners took a chance and had a well dug. The cost of the drilling was not disclosed but he cost of the solar powered well and pump was, $ 10 K.
    The land is donated , but the water is not free.

  46. Denise says:

    I’m thinking the words “new homes” as in new construction are significant here — as in have you seen where these gigantic swathes of housing development are being built, pushing deeper and deeper into fire zones? Drive up Interstate 5 from LA to San Francisco sometime. I don’t have a problem with legislating landscaping of new construction. If only they’d mandate rain-collecting systems and underground cisterns for new Calif construction too..and encourage new construction builders to ditch the handkerchief-sized front lawns for permeable hardscape/courtyards typical of low rainfall climates the world round, a space that will actually be lived in instead of designed to be attractive when passed by in a car.

    On my street, water restrictions were complied with last year. Hell strips and front yards planted with grass went unwatered and browned in summer. Indeed, you were given the stank eye if your lawn stayed green.

  47. Laura Bell says:

    Despite our image as a free-wheeling hippy state, where everyone can “do their own thing”, we Californians seem to want a law for everything ( which is all out of line with the liberal/democratic ideals we like to think we invented – but I digress). I think encouraging water conservation is an excellent idea, and that the xeric/near-xeric landscape programs (that were just getting started before the bottom fell out of most urban areas’ budgets) are an excellent way to encourage it. If we could get those going again & in every community, I suspect many more citizens would see the light. Legislating water conservation/landscaping/mulch/etc is a bad idea and will likely come back to bite many districts in the butt – and sooner rather than later. I mean, we already have community water patrols in many places. What’s next – folks with rulers, writing out citations because your chipped bark has settled & is now only 1 3/4″ ?

    And speaking from NorCal, I can attest to the fact that telling many folks here to conserve water will have them snorting, “So we can send it to SoCal ? No thank you !” I suspect you’d get that attitude from many other Western States.

  48. sara says:

    I honestly do not have a problem with the ‘thou shalt not have a lawn larger than ___’ legislation as long as the lawn-growers are educated on saving rainwater and irrigating with that, and are offered participation in graywater installation at a discount. (I grew up in Berkeley and live in eastern Contra Costa County now).

    The problem with lawns is not only gross water wasting, but also the crapload of chemicals that are de rigeur for use on lawns. I have neighbors on one side I’ve nicknamed Mr. and Mrs. Putting Green. When I first moved in, I took one peep over the side fence and saw bottle after bottle of herbicide, fungicide, pesticide, you name it.

    We’re all in this together. One could make a strong argument that lawn maintenance is a source of pollution unto itself. From the gas-powered lawnmowers and weed-whackers, to the residue of oodles of products making it into the gutters and then sewers and contaminating walkways on their way there, if someone’s inattentive about watering.

    Yes, it’s possible to be responsible and have a green lawn in the literal sense, but not everyone’s on the same page about that. Yet.

    Take all that as you will. I ripped out the weed-clogged sod in my front yard and plan to grow nothing but edibles and drought-tolerant flowers this year. To do otherwise would be a crime because I have southern exposure in the front.

  49. Gardenology says:

    On a completely unrelated note – which is of course related, there need to be much more serious steps taken to capture grey water for reuse in the yard. New constructions should all have ways of capturing or utilizing this water source for irrigation.

  50. BriaDesigns says:

    I agree with Elizabeth on her last post: There should be rebates (by state) and incentives for a)less water use, b)efficient irrigation (like there have been for energy efficient appliances), c)using natives & d)low maintenance landscaping (uses less water and chemicals). But who would check it? There is already LEED for homes; that is a good place to start. More expensive water solves a lot of problems in itself (agree with Curmudgeon).
    http://www.briadesigns.net

  51. john says:

    I’m from northern California – home to the Six Rivers Nat’l Forest. Most of that river water is diverted to other areas = Eel River – to Russian River to supply water for Napa and Sonoma county vinyards, Trinity River to Sacramento Valley and the Delta projecxt, ultimately to southern California. Klamath River to some potato farmers in Oregon. You get the idea. Charge per usage. In Sacramento there are no water meters. Why?

  52. Keith MIner says:

    I live in Northern California and I have been in the nursery industry for over 25 years. I have been through years when we have flooded and I “survived” 5 years of drought (Wow and all of my plants are still alive!). There are a lot of people in our state and we all want water. We are one of the largest Agricultural regions in the world. The farmers say, “Where water flows, Food grows” The Salmon fisherman want the free flow of water for the fisheries. Environmentalist groups want to preserve the natural wild river systems and oppose dams. Politicians want to sell water for revenue from Northern California to Southern Cal., and charge homeowners high rates for water usage for revenue for the slew of water projects in the state. The list goes on and on and on…. but you get the point. Water is a major issue here in California. Now, here is my take on how it affects the nursery industry and the residents of California, and our freedoms as American citizens. Where do I start…? Lets start with how John Q. Public is educated on water usage. During wet years, water is not an issue and “The Media” does not make water an issue. As soon as there is one year of less than average rainfall, then the DROUGHT word starts being used and talks about water cutbacks for agriculture and cutbacks in watering landscapes, especially in Southern California. So, John Q. is told that the only way to help is by cutting back on the landscape watering and don’t plant grass. In my experience with homeowners, most water way too much anyway, and have no clue how to set an irrigation controller, and have no idea how much water any of their plants require. In this scenario, John Q probably assumes that we shouldn’t regard plants as very important since these are the first to have mandatory cutbacks and restrictions. Come to think of it, how important is grass anyway? Well, besides the fact that it does provide oxygen for us to breathe…. oh, and provides cooler temperatures for the rising urban temperatures…oh yeah, and filtering out pollutants in the air…Wait, don’t grasses also provide a way for water to percolate into the soil and back into the aquifers…and I guess it does prevent erosion of the soil…( http://www.sustland.umn.edu/maint/benefits.htm ) And hey, the kids really do need a place to play that is soft and safe, and gee, it really does look beautiful. “Wow, I guess I never really realized how important grass really is!” says John Q. (No, I am not in the Sod/Grass industry. LOL) So municipalities don’t want lawn because they use so much water, so let’s take this type of thinking one step further. See that large shade tree in your yard, if you listen carefully you can here the giant sucking sound of 50 to 150 gallons or more, per day of water being consumed by that lovely, but thirsty, plant. OMG!!! We had better not plant any more trees!! Sounds pretty absurd doesn’t it. I mean there is no way on God’s green earth that could happen, right…. I mean, “Come on Joe, say it ain’t so”

    We need to educate the people making the decisions. The politicians are mostly lawyers and attorneys, not landscapers and gardeners. People need to be educated on how to make all environmental landscapes “WATER WISE”. Starting with a water wise soil amendment program, to an integrated irrigation management plan, to making ALL PLANTS more water wise and still having the FREEDOM to choose whatever plants we like and grow them with water wise management practices. Ok my rant is over I am running out of gas. This is my 2 cents, and it is probably worth exactly what you paid for it. :)

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