Verda Vivo

Verda Vivo means “Green Life” in the universal language of Esperanto.

Save Water, Ditch Your Lawn! July 15, 2008

First this…

After two straight years of below-average rainfall, low snowmelt runoff and the largest court-ordered water transfer restrictions in state history, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger Wednesday proclaimed a statewide drought, the first official drought since 1991. LA Times, June 5, 2008

And then this…

Sacramento couple who let lawn die to save water face $746 fine. Before Anne Hartridge could plan new landscaping, a neighbor complained to the city about her brown lawn, and the Code Enforcement Department slapped the family with a citation. Their small brick home was declared a “public nuisance” in violation of city code section 17.68.010, which states that front yards “shall be irrigated, landscaped and maintained.” After public outcry in support of the Hartridge’s, the city admitted their code enforcement policies may not be drought-friendly, and said they won’t fine the couple.  Sacramento Bee, July 2 and July 3, 2008

Why is a green lawn even an option when drought conditions exist? Hello, Sacramento, ever hear of Xeriscaping? Xeriscape landscapes aren’t just cactus and rock gardens nor do they require vast “seas of gravel and plastic”. They can be green, cool landscapes full of beautiful plants maintained with water-efficient practices.

Traditional landscaping includes the widespread use of lush-looking Kentucky Bluegrass lawns, punctuated with exotic ornamental shrubs, flowers, and trees. While this is great in theory, you and I have seen many a lawn punctuated with weeds, brown patches and dog manure (courtesy of the neighbor’s dog). And it usually is in dire need of mowing. Never mind that you have to douse it with fertilizers, pesticides, fungicides and water to keep a lawn in tip-top shape. And then there’s the mowing.

Xeriscape simply means selecting plants for their drought tolerance, and/or ability to thrive without regular maintenance in the climate conditions where they will be used.

Benefits of Xeriscaping:

  • Saves Water– Typically, over 50% of residential water used is applied to landscape and lawns. Xeriscape can reduce landscape water use by 50 – 75%.
  • Less Maintenance – Aside from occasional pruning and weeding, maintenance is minimal. Watering requirements are low, and can be met with simple irrigation systems.
  • No Fertilizers or Pesticides – Using plants native to your area will eliminate the need for chemical supplements. Sufficient nutrients are provided by healthy organic soil.
    Improves Property Value – A good Xeriscape can raise property values which more than offset the cost of installation. Protect your landscaping investment by drought-proofing it.
  • Pollution Free – Fossil fuel consumption from gas mowers is minimized or eliminated with minimal turf areas. Small turf areas can be maintained with a reel mower.
  • Provides Wildlife Habitat – Use of native plants, shrubs and trees offer a familiar and varied habitat for local wildlife.
  • Saves Valuable Landfill Space – Yard waste is a major expense for municipal waste programs, and one for which we individually pay. In addition, most waste–even organic waste–can take years to decompose in a landfill.

Traditional lawn (left) versus Xeriscape (right)


Related Post: Turf War

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7 Responses to “Save Water, Ditch Your Lawn!”

  1. I can’t believe that couple would get fined for something as ridiculous as letting their lawn die. I mean, they were going to do something about it… not just let it sit there all brown and disgusting. (Neighbors seriously need to butt out of others’ business!!)

    I had heard of choosing plants that will thrive in your home’s climate. I don’t understand why some people would try to grow a gentle plant in the desert, but there are some why try to do that anyway!

    Thanks for the info on Xeriscape!

  2. Verda Vivo Says:

    You’re right about the neighbors. At least the city, on second thought, decided against the fine. They also admitted they needed to update the rules. In the meantime, what a bit of a tempest in a teapot. Thanks for the comment! ~ Daryl

  3. Edouard Says:

    I like Xeriscape as it is much more colorful than the traditional lawn.

    Each day I read your blog Daryl I grasp how our countries are different… Keep up the good work and enjoy !

  4. This was great Daryl! My hubby and I are considering letting our lawn revert back to prairie grasses. (We’re in the country) so I doubt we’ll be fined! Oh how I wish this country wasn’t so INCREDIBLY slow on the uptake!!! All we can do is our part. You’re doing an incredible job! With gratitude, Laurie B.

  5. Verda Vivo Says:

    Edouard, Now that we’ve moved to the desert, it was easy to put in a Xeriscape landscape. We planted flowering natives to attract hummingbirds and butterflies along with cacti and mesquite trees. Everything that needs water is on a drip system. The freedom of no lawn is wonderful. ~ Daryl

  6. Verda Vivo Says:

    Laurie, With some forethought and planning, you could have a wonderful landscape that would be attractive to wildlife. We have bunnies, lizards, mourning doves, quail, hummingbirds, and finches regularly. I’ve also seen several cardinals, orioles, woodpeckers, and a hawk who was hunting in our yard. I’ve even seen a coyote passing through a couple of times. I much prefer this landscape to a manicured lawn. ~ Daryl

  7. […] what’s up? Back in 2008 the state declared a drought after a particularly dry spring and early summer. In response to the announcement a couple in the […]

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