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Drought: California lawns being ripped up and sold for 'green' returns

Drought: California lawns being ripped up and sold for 'green' returns
Drought: California lawns being ripped up and sold for 'green' returns
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Droughts in California have become so severe that homeowners are looking to their lawns as a means to save some green – literally. Residents struggling to keep their lawns fertile under rainless weather coupled with water usage restrictions are learning that the alternative grass is in fact greener.

Writes the Associated Press: “As California faces an historic drought, more residents are…tearing out thirsty lawns to cut down on water use. Water agencies across the state have been encouraging the change by offering thousands of dollars in rebates to help homeowners make the switch to a drought-friendly landscape with better odds of surviving dry spells common to the local climate.”

The AP cited Long Beach resident Rick Blankenship, who yanked his arid turf in lieu of a very green-colored ground cover that is appropriate to drought-like weather.

“It just sounded like a great way to save money and at the same time, kind of beautify my landscape,” Blankenship said.

More homeowners are following in Blankenship’s footsteps, especially considering programs like Cash In Your Lawn, sponsored by the Los Angeles Department of Water, are encouraging residents to dump their lawn and are giving up to $2 per square foot to replace it with a drought-friendly, natural landscape.

“As we gear up for another hot summer following a dry winter with low snow packs and rain fall, we need to find ways to save precious potable water for indoor uses,” said James McDaniel, Senior Assistant General Manager of the LADWP Water System. “Traditional grass landscape requires a lot of water, but we can replace it with plants that are natural to the California climate, attractive, easy to maintain and more water wise. Our rebate of two dollars a square foot will go a long way to help cover the re-landscaping costs.”

Trees, perennials, vines, succulents and shrubs, as well as non-vegetative groundcover or paving materials are used to replace dead grass. It’s a win – win for both the homeowner and the city.

California Gov. Jerry Brown, who declared a water emergency earlier this year and restricted lawn watering to no more than two days a week, said applications for lawn replacement are rolling in – 20 to 30 per day. "We are just buried right now," Brown said.

Writes the AP:

Residents who remove their lawns not only weed out mowing and fertilizing costs but also save on water. In Long Beach, which began its turf replacement program four years ago, residents have cut their water bills by about 20 percent, said Matthew Lyons, director of planning and conservation for the city's water department.

According to the AP report, removing a 1,000-square-foot lawn in Long Beach and replacing it with drought-friendly landscape will save the average homeowner from using approximately 21,000 gallons of water a year – a $90 savings on their annual water bill.