In the arid American West, green grass lawns are as "natural" a part of the ecosystem as polar bears. Now California's drought is making well-watered lawns even less sensibles. Many homeowners are either replacing water-intensive grass with more suitable landscaping, or simply letting lawns turn brown.
From The New York Times:
With rainfall at below-normal levels for several years, and streams dry and reservoirs critically low, particularly in northern areas — even after the storms at the end of last month — many Californians are facing the reality that in the arid West the well-manicured lawn is no longer realistic, or even possible. Some cities have tightly restricted water use; others have raised usage rates to levels that make grass a luxury item.
In fact grass has slowly been disappearing from California yards for several years now. That's particularly true in cities that offer incentives for homeowners to uproot. But the drought has accelerated the shift toward more eco-friendly, cost-effective yard alternatives.
The water shortage is resulting in more interesting front lawns that save water at the same time. From native plants to vegetable gardens, streamscaping to artificial turf, the drought is forcing homeowners to get creative with their yards.
Of course the norm is still grass. But as concern over water consumption continues to rise, so too will the interest in smarter landscaping.
Photo: Drought tolerant plants in a yard in Mar Vista, Los Angeles. (Winni Wintermeyer for The New York Times)