An important article appeared in the New York Times this past Sunday, August 11, 2013, by Ian Lovett, entitled Arid Southwest Cities’ Plea: Lose the Lawn. As detailed in the article and quoted in this blog, it examines a very serious concern––lack of water––and how the Southwest and California and Los Angeles, in particular, are dealing with it.
This is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, aspects of which I’ve written about on a number of occasions, which you’re more than welcome to check out:
In the article, it was noted that since 2009, when the Los Angeles’ rebate program began, the city has paid $1.4 million to homeowners willing to rip out their front lawns, and more than one million square feet of grass has been removed and replanted with succulents and drought-tollerant native California plants. New city parks provide only token patches of grass, surrounded by native plants, and the park outside City Hall, which was once a field of grass, has been transformed into a garden of succulents.
The first five months of this year were the driest on record in California, with reservoirs in the state at 20 percent below normal levels. The lawn rebate program here will save approximately 47 million gallons of water each year, according to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. So concerned about this issue, Los Angeles, last month, raised its rebate from $2 a square foot of grass removed to $2.50. Long Beach now offers $3 a square foot.
“The era of the lawn in the West is over,” said Paul Robbins, the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin. “The water limits are insurmountable.”
City officials across the region have hailed turf removal as vital, given the chronic water shortages.
Las Vegas Made It Work
Las Vegas presents a model of how quickly the landscape can change when a city moves aggressively. In 2003, after a drought wiped out the city’s water resources, the Las Vegas Valley Water District offered what officials believe was the first turf removal rebate program in the country.
Since then, the water district has paid out nearly $200 million to remove 165.6 million square feet of grass from residences and businesses.
In the winter, watering is allowed only one day a week. Homeowners who take advantage of the city’s rebate must sign a deed restriction stating that even if the property were to be sold, grass could not be reinstalled unless the new owner paid back the rebate, with interest.
The city’s investment has paid off. In the last decade, 9.2 billion gallons of water have been saved through turf removal, and water use in Southern Nevada has been cut by a third, even as the population has continued to grow.
“The landscape in Southern Nevada has changed dramatically,” said Patricia Mulroy, the general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District. “If you had driven through a single-family development in the 1990s, it would have had grass all the way around. Today, you find desert landscaping. You see very little grass.”
Save Water & Save Money
If you would like to examine the possibility of re-landscaping your home with succulents and drought-tollerant native species, and save water and money, give us a call––we are specialists in creating beautiful, sustainable landscapes.