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.
- California Integrated Waste Management Board
- Colorado Waterwise Council
- Common Sense Xeriscaping for Small Lot Owners
- Xeriscape Council of New Mexico
Related Post: Turf War