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S/O California Water problems... Dead lawn, now what?


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Well, the other shoe dropped last night. Got the utility bill with the draconian watering regs. DH was not happy. I kept my mouth shut. I knew we were going to have to go brown. Anyhow, if you have gone brown, what are you doing with your yard? Keeping dead grass? Ripping it out? Re-doing your landscaping? That's one of DH's frustrations... he doesn't want a front yard of dead grass, but it costs $X,000 to re-do landscaping, so.... I'm just curious as to what other people who had lawns, but now can't water them (especially people with kids who play on their lawns) are doing now.

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Not in California, however I grew up there and still have family there who maybe dealing with this same issue in near future. My sister just put a sprinkler system and sod in her backyard a couple years ago so I know she won't be happy.

 

Anyways, no real solution, and I hope that things ease up.

 

I did see something that some people are resorting to spray painting their lawns green? Can't remember where I read it, or if it is true, but it would not surprise if it it was. At least where I grew up it was all about nice looking manicured lawns. What concerns me is (much less than the drought itself, but still in the back of my head), if and when, the rains come, that will be more chemicals back into the ground water.

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Astroturf?  If you want it still to be an area where the kids can play.....  I saw some the other day that didn't look bad.

 

Pricey though.

 

And it really isn't much fun for kids to play on. My son hated playing soccer on the Astroturf field when they did tournaments. It was the "premiere" field at the venue, but he always came away with more scrapes and raspberries than when they played on real grass.

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With conditions such as they are, having a brown lawn will be the norm, I suspect. Not many people have the money to put into re-landscaping. I'm guessing some HOAs are going to be scrambling to re-write some of their policies. 

This. Texas just ended a five year drought--maybe you caught that on the news. ;)

 

We concentrated on saving the trees, shrubs, and perennials and let the lawn go. We were able to water just enough to keep the grass from dying completely.  I don't think our drought was as serious as the one you guys are dealing with, but it was tough never the less.

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Not in California, but from a place that knows about drought. 

 

It is expected that lawns will die in summer. It's an established fact of life and no one would even try to legislate against it. But people who want to keep theirs alive anyway will hang signs on their front fences saying "grey water only" or something like that, and use their laundry rinse water. 

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We lost ours so now we are looking at getting someone to come out, till it and then spray that growth inhibitor (cuz some of the weeds are still thriving  :glare: ). Then we will do a mulch/native plants set up. Kids play out front on the driveway/sidewalk not the grass, so we'll just adjust. Oh and we have a ground squirrel who ate all the roots of most of our roses :sneaky2: ..... so, yep, banner year for landscaping here.... NOT.

It's going to cost $, but we needed to so something any ways, as when we bought this house 2 years ago, the owners had not been keeping up the landscaping. We just won't be doing the sprinkler/sod we had planned to do.

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This. Texas just ended a five year drought--maybe you caught that on the news. ;)

 

We concentrated on saving the trees, shrubs, and perennials and let the lawn go. We were able to water just enough to keep the grass from dying completely.  I don't think our drought was as serious as the one you guys are dealing with, but it was tough never the less.

 

My oldest son is on a road trip with his band. They left Texas as the floods were starting, and drove straight to California. Quite a difference, LOL. 

 

I lived through a couple of drought periods in California. I remember when the same son was a toddler and we came here to SC to visit family. It was raining one day as we waited outside the mall for dh to come pick us up. He was bewildered by the rain pouring down. I had to explain to the folks around us that he had never experienced rain before, and didn't really know what it was. They thought I was crazy. 

 

Have you noticed that "drought" is one of those words that just looks wrong the more you type it?

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I think your dh will need to reset his expectations. There is a drought. Everyone who does not have a grey water system will have a dead lawn. If he wants to avoid this in the future he can start researching local flora and fauna and slowly change it out as finances allow.

I am on the east coast and never water my lawn. Waste of water. It comes back every fall. Not interested in my neighbors opinion.

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We went through a bit of this in 2012. We ripped out a lot of lawn and put in many drought resistant/xeriscape plants. We eventually recovered out of drought, and renovated the remaining lawn.  Many of our plants from our previous landscaping did not recover well---the extreme high heat stressed them too much before a harsh winter.

 

If I had to do it again (and I might, because we are moving), I would xeriscape again. There are many beautiful plants with textures and colors that are pleasing to the eye.  

 

A lot of the people who just let the lawn die have lost top soil. Most of the discussion about desertification has happened in re: crops, but soil degradation and the loss of biodiversity should be a wider concern.  My neck of the woods has lost a LOT of insects, song birds (40%), foxes, etc. all the way up the food chain because of changes made in the last few years.

 

I planted a ton of bird and bee friendly plants when I made my xeriscape choices. I'm one of the very few who have seen honeybees in the last couple of years.  (They love lavender!)

 

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I think your dh will need to reset his expectations. There is a drought. Everyone who does not have a grey water system will have a dead lawn.

Well, yeah! I've been trying to encourage this! ;) Regarding the grey water system.... That would be great! I think that should have been something we thought of and implemented... decades ago? That's the thing. This drought is not an unusual weather pattern. The severity is a little unusual but we have droughts, and it's only now that the powers that be are "doing something". But IMO, it's a little too late.

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We are debating what to do as well. Our backyard is small and the grass does fine back there with very little watering. But the front is thrashed. It's barely green in some places, brown in others, and just dirt in the rest. I'd be fine with brown, but the dirt is horrible and seems to aggregate my allergies quite a bit. We've discussed letting it all die and then planting UC Verde grass. It takes water to establish but then is extremely drought resistant. But it's $$$ to purchase and our city doesn't give special permits for watering extra newly planted drought resistant landscapes. We have kids who love to play on the grass, my husband plays with them on the grass, the neighbor kids come and play with them on the grass, and honestly traditional xeriscaping would be worse than just leaving dirt. But I hate the dirt ...

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We live in California too, and many of our neighbors are no longer watering their lawns. I see that several of them have signs that they are posting that say "DOING OUR PART TO SAVE WATER". It looks like the signs are from the City Water Department. I told my husband last night that we should get a sign and give up on the lawn.  We have several citrus trees and a pool, so our water bill is high. We are in the process of taking out the grass parking strips (the grass area between the sidewalks and street). It technically is city owned property but we are responsible for it. Unfortunately our city doesn't offer any rebates for removing lawns but many other water departments do. I have to say that I really underestimated how hard it would be to get rid of the grass. We live on a corner lot so we have two long parking strips full of Bermuda grass.  I went into a gardening center and asked how best to remove the Bermuda Grass. The lady helping me laughed and said if there is a nuclear war the only thing else surviving besides cockroaches would be bermuda grass.  :huh:

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We had a brown lawn during both the 1970s and 1980s droughts. We had to re-install turf later. I tried to get my parents to do something else but the yard was a sore subject in the family so they took the easiest path. Right now we haven't watered our yard in months, but we're on the coast so it's surviving. I think you're in the Central Valley, where it's much hotter.

 

Some water companies are offering rebates for lawn replacement. The replacement is for natives in our area, other areas may be different and subsidize artificial learns, rocks, etc. Google your water company + subsidies and see if anything comes up. Or call them.

 

ETA: Meteorologists are predicting a wetter winter and if it were me, I would keep the brown lawn and wait until winter to see if it comes back before making any effort or spending any money.

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Aren't there different kinds of grasses?

We are in the midwest, so no actual drought, but the grass is supposed to go dormant (and yellow) over the hot summer unless watered, and it recovers and grows again come fall rains. It even did so after we had the actual drought three summers ago when everything went brown... come raining season, grass was growing again. We  had to reseed a bit.

 

Maybe there is a different kind of grass that is more appropriate for a long dry season? There are native grasses in CA.

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Aren't there different kinds of grasses?

We are in the midwest, so no actual drought, but the grass is supposed to go dormant (and yellow) over the hot summer unless watered, and it recovers and grows again come fall rains. It even did so after we had the actual drought three summers ago when everything went brown... come raining season, grass was growing again. We  had to reseed a bit.

 

Maybe there is a different kind of grass that is more appropriate for a long dry season? There are native grasses in CA.

 

I think this is a long term solution, but I think you would have to water to establish the lawn first. Tossing seeds out there and not watering means just wasted $$$

 

How expensive would it be to have a gray water system put in so you can water with laundry and dish water?

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I think this is a long term solution, but I think you would have to water to establish the lawn first. Tossing seeds out there and not watering means just wasted $$$

 

Oh, of course. And one would not begin to do that in summer anyway.

 

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I think this is a long term solution, but I think you would have to water to establish the lawn first. Tossing seeds out there and not watering means just wasted $$$

 

How expensive would it be to have a gray water system put in so you can water with laundry and dish water?

We haven't looked into the cost yet, but we are debating putting in a gray water tank to capture shower water to use on the lawn. We have a rain barrel in the backyard that the kids use to water the strawberries and blueberries on off watering days. We also need to go get a 5 gallon bucket or two to keep in the shower for capturing warming up water to help with watering outside.

 

In response to the grass going dormant naturally in the summer, that isn't the problem. We haven't had much of any rain for quite a long time (we had a couple storms this summer that amounted to about five inches total for my area over the last year), and we shut off the sprinklers last fall thinking that Mother Nature would help with watering over the winter. That's why I think we have so many dirt-only spots. In past years, we've been able to water minimally during the winter and have storms help, keeping the grass, albeit less green and more brown, during the summer. But it's been too long with not nearly enough rain.

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Maybe there is a different kind of grass that is more appropriate for a long dry season? There are native grasses in CA.

 

There are, and it's a popular choice in my area lately. The type of grass native to CA doesn't make for good turf, though, in the sense of kids playing on it.

 

Having said that, that's what parks and other public areas are for, IMO. We live in an apartment complex, and our kids only play on grass in parks. Somehow, playing still happens. I don't think it's realistic in CA for people to expect to have private pools and grassy areas; such water-hungry things should be maximally used to justify their existence.

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we are in SoCal.  20 years ago we took out the grass and put in buffalo grass.  it looked okay, but it was tough, hard on the feet and the animals and kids wouldn't play on it.

 

so then we worked on it a bit at a time.  fast forward 15 years and we put beach pebbles in.  they are lovely.  they are round.  we walk on them barefoot.  kids and pets love them.

 

but it cost a lot.

 

we did it gradually for a while and saved money.  we just took a corner, and made it nice.  then we did another corner.  then we found someone who would give us a deal if we bought a lot so we went for it and were horribly tight for a bit.

 

but in the end i am glad we did it.

 

fwiw

ann 

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we are in SoCal. 20 years ago we took out the grass and put in buffalo grass. it looked okay, but it was tough, hard on the feet and the animals and kids wouldn't play on it.

 

so then we worked on it a bit at a time. fast forward 15 years and we put beach pebbles in. they are lovely. they are round. we walk on them barefoot. kids and pets love them.

 

but it cost a lot.

 

we did it gradually for a while and saved money. we just took a corner, and made it nice. then we did another corner. then we found someone who would give us a deal if we bought a lot so we went for it and were horribly tight for a bit.

 

but in the end i am glad we did it.

 

fwiw

ann

That's why we are considering the UC Verde grass. UC Davis and UC Riverside, if I remember correctly, took the buffalo grass native to the plains states and created a grass that would grow well in coastal California and be nice on the feet, kids, and pets. I am scared to call and ask how much it costs though (you have to buy plugs as it has been bred not to go to seed and plant them on average 12" on center; we are in a corner and have a lot of plugs we'd have to plant between our lawn and the parkway).

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we are in SoCal. 20 years ago we took out the grass and put in buffalo grass. it looked okay, but it was tough, hard on the feet and the animals and kids wouldn't play on it.

 

so then we worked on it a bit at a time. fast forward 15 years and we put beach pebbles in. they are lovely. they are round. we walk on them barefoot. kids and pets love them.

 

but it cost a lot.

 

we did it gradually for a while and saved money. we just took a corner, and made it nice. then we did another corner. then we found someone who would give us a deal if we bought a lot so we went for it and were horribly tight for a bit.

 

but in the end i am glad we did it.

 

fwiw

ann

That sounds wonderful. You guys had a lot of foresight. Unfortunately, we are looking at a dead lawn next week! Lol. At least all the neighborhoods in our town are going brown, so I guess we'll all look alike. I'm not sure if we're going to work at a long term plan, or what. We need to, but that's not going to help us this summer.
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That's why we are considering the UC Verde grass. UC Davis and UC Riverside, if I remember correctly, took the buffalo grass native to the plains states and created a grass that would grow well in coastal California and be nice on the feet, kids, and pets. I am scared to call and ask how much it costs though (you have to buy plugs as it has been bred not to go to seed and plant them on average 12" on center; we are in a corner and have a lot of plugs we'd have to plant between our lawn and the parkway).

 

You piqued my curiosity so I Googled, and found their FAQ (money trigger alert--it includes pricing ;)):http://ucverdebuffalograss.com/faq/

 

It sounds much better than traditional turf, but it also says UC Verde goes dormant in winter and turns brown. So I'm not sure it's a solution for people motivated by greenness, since it just trades brown in summer for brown in winter. 

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I was just coming to the Chat board to post about our lawn on the other thread, when I saw this thread. Perfect timing. I don't have time to read all the replies yet (I got about halfway through), b/c I'm -- get this -- about to head over to the nursery in my truck to get more mulch. For my sad little former lawn. :) Anyway, I'll add our solution -- it may be useful for local folks.

 

We have neighbors with astroturf; neighbors with just rocks (quite pretty, actually); friends who went "native" several years ago and are all set; and many neighbors who are putting in natives now or this fall. (And then there are the folks we know who just spent $40k (yes, this is the Bay Area! haha) on landscaping their yard, with non-drought-resistant plants. :glare: )

 

Anyway, we live on a hill (sloping front yard) with a small front yard and no more kids to play on it. As they say: If the only person who walks on your grass is the person who mows your lawn ... why not get rid of grass? :) Yes, as PPs said, it's seasonal here; the grass dies in summer and comes back with a vengeance during the rainy season. However, the patches of bare ground were crying out for something to protect them from baking in the summer, look more aesthetically pleasing, improve the (adobe-like) soil, and prevent a landslide during the (hopefully!) coming El Niño. A local homeschooler runs a concern called "Bringing Back the Natives," and sponsors garden tours every spring for inspiration. (Homeschooling friends of ours have been featured on past tours, and they've given me cuttings from their native plants which have done GREAT in the back yard. I should have started on the front yard last year ... Once the plants are established, they can live with NO water from April to December ...)

 

So ... I'm currently (all by my little self) hauling mulch from the nursery (although the "Natives" folks told me that tree services often give it away FREE -- I plan to look into that) and covering my lawn. You can either put cardboard between the grass and the mulch, or not (you want to kill the grass, but there are concerns about glues etc. in the cardboard affecting the soil, if you ever want to grow edible plants in the future). In the fall I will plant natives here and there. There are so many absolutely gorgeous, colorful native plants -- that need next to no water all summer once established -- that I was going to change over our lawn anyway. But this has been the impetus. Scroll through the photos on this page (the nursery from which I order all of my natives) -- you can choose plants to flower in so many colors and at so many different times, the lawn will never look "dead." The top row of photos on that webpage link to plants that flower in May -- Aug. -- Nov. -- and Feb. (Their website is crammed with information and photos; you can choose plants for your exact microclimate.) I am soooo excited. I have a bunch of plants in my back yard that are thriving -- California fuchsia, blue-eyed and yellow-eyed grasses; sages; buckwheats; lavenders; coyote mint; etc. On my wishlist are penstemons, salvias, and more buckwheat.

Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. And don't need to be watered.

 

Here are some photos of a recent workshop at which volunteers installed Netafim.

 

ETA: I only seem to be able to upload photos that are less than 15 kB ... otherwise I'd add a photo of our good friends' garden. It really is fabulous -- a feast for the senses. A lot of the plants are 5 or 6 feet high, and they always have bees, butterflies, hummingbirds (and other critters) buzzing around. As do we in our little garden in the back. Our local library and other places in the community also have "natives" gardens -- gorgeous colors, scents, wildlife!

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In Seattle, brown lawns are the norm. We have areas of garden with native shrubs as well.

 

We have had this for my entire life. It is for the salmon and apples. We simply cannot dam everything.

 

Our prices are already higher than almost every city in CA.

 

Honestly... We just try to care about things other than maintaining an artificial, unnatural plant environment. I'm only partly sorry to sound snotty. The fish are dying, the trees are dying in fires, and on the front page of CA and national papers we have people's lawns.

 

What about the salmon, the clams, the trees? What about the air, asthma?

 

Apparently some CA celebrities want "all that water" we have. We are laughing up here, because if they can't handle the prices as they are now, how on earth will they pay us for something that costs twice as much? It would be much cheaper just to conserve.

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we are in SoCal.  20 years ago we took out the grass and put in buffalo grass.  it looked okay, but it was tough, hard on the feet and the animals and kids wouldn't play on it.

 

so then we worked on it a bit at a time.  fast forward 15 years and we put beach pebbles in.  they are lovely.  they are round.  we walk on them barefoot.  kids and pets love them.

 

 

what size beach pebbles did you go for? 

 

I live in a rainforest so drought is not really an issue here but I'm on constant lookout for xeriscaping ideas that are pet friendly. Most people here use gravel but it's not nice on feet, not even pea gravel...

 

the beach pebble landscaping I saw on image search are beautiful!

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You piqued my curiosity so I Googled, and found their FAQ (money trigger alert--it includes pricing ;)):http://ucverdebuffalograss.com/faq/

 

It sounds much better than traditional turf, but it also says UC Verde goes dormant in winter and turns brown. So I'm not sure it's a solution for people motivated by greenness, since it just trades brown in summer for brown in winter. 

I remember seeing the per-flat price, but I can't find (and I might not be reading closely enough) where it says how many plugs come to a flat. We need about 1000! :huh:  But, we aren't concerned about the green factor. And I like the very low maintenance involved too (we could potentially stop paying our gardner, who at this point in time is mostly only trimming the backyard as what little is still green in the front doesn't seem to grow anymore). I don't know how our backyard is doing so well. Maybe because we virtually ignore it and the kids aren't running hard on it. And it is better shaded (we have St. Augustine grass but our front yard gets a TON of sunlight almost all day). I don't think we are going to do anything until after this winter though. Other than continue to put top soil down and hopes it helps keep what little moisture there is in the ground there. Our planters out front are all sage and lavender and don't mind being ignored. Even the boysenberry, that I thought for sure would have died by now (was kind of hoping it would ... I don't think a nuclear attack would kill it) is growing beautifully without being watered.  :glare:

 

About half our neighborhood has given up on watering, or is watering just enough to maintain brown grass without it all going to dust. There are others with perfectly green lawns. Some do follow the rule (our city was two days a week for watering long before Gov. Brown made it a state-wide mandate), but others water whenever they want for as long as they want. Heck, the city waters the parks in the heat of the day on whatever day(s) they wish. Yes, it's reclaimed water, but at least have the decency to follow the rules like every one else. 

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We let our lawn die, then we dug it up.  Now it's just brown dirt.  I started to plant a few bulbs here and there, but in general I hate the typical drought resistant yards--they require a lot of hand weeding and look weedy even when  you do that, to my eye.  My rough intention is to put in some garden furniture and a grape and rose arbor and one of those Little Free Library huts, combined with some raised beds for veggies and herbs, in the hope that we will end up with something functional, reasonably attractive, and for which the limited water we use goes to growing food to eat and share.  We will probably incorporate a dry creek (river rocks in a trench) because those are attractive to my eye, and also they enhance water pooling to feed down into the aquifers, unlike our other landscaping which will largely produce run off into the gutters unfortunately.  But that's going to be a lengthy process. 

 

Many in our neighborhood are letting their lawns die, and posting signs from the local water company that say, "Brown is the new green," which is catchy and cute and neighborly. 

 

We do have one fairly spectacular exception:  Our next door neighbors just moved to a new city, and their realtor is renovating their house for sale.  The realtor put in a brand new sod lawn, and is not watering it.  That is A)  Awfully unneighborly and B)  Going to die spectacularly during escrow or shortly thereafter and C)  Deceptive.  Note to self:  The neighbors were nice, the realtor is not.  Never hire or recommend that realtor.

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I remember seeing the per-flat price, but I can't find (and I might not be reading closely enough) where it says how many plugs come to a flat. We need about 1000! :huh:  But, we aren't concerned about the green factor. And I like the very low maintenance involved too (we could potentially stop paying our gardner, who at this point in time is mostly only trimming the backyard as what little is still green in the front doesn't seem to grow anymore). I don't know how our backyard is doing so well. Maybe because we virtually ignore it and the kids aren't running hard on it. And it is better shaded (we have St. Augustine grass but our front yard gets a TON of sunlight almost all day). I don't think we are going to do anything until after this winter though. Other than continue to put top soil down and hopes it helps keep what little moisture there is in the ground there. Our planters out front are all sage and lavender and don't mind being ignored. Even the boysenberry, that I thought for sure would have died by now (was kind of hoping it would ... I don't think a nuclear attack would kill it) is growing beautifully without being watered.  :glare:

 

About half our neighborhood has given up on watering, or is watering just enough to maintain brown grass without it all going to dust. There are others with perfectly green lawns. Some do follow the rule (our city was two days a week for watering long before Gov. Brown made it a state-wide mandate), but others water whenever they want for as long as they want. Heck, the city waters the parks in the heat of the day on whatever day(s) they wish. Yes, it's reclaimed water, but at least have the decency to follow the rules like every one else. 

 

The FAQ says 128 plugs/tray. And you're probably right about the boysenberries and the nuclear attack: we had raspberries when I was growing up, and my mother had them removed three times before it finally worked. They were never watered, but they flourished. 

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The FAQ says 128 plugs/tray. And you're probably right about the boysenberries and the nuclear attack: we had raspberries when I was growing up, and my mother had them removed three times before it finally worked. They were never watered, but they flourished. 

I had a feeling I wasn't reading it closely enough. Thanks for the info. :) I'm not sure which scares me more though ... the cost or the work it'll take to plant them all! I'm trying to talk dh into doing a xeriscape type redo of the parkways (about 500 square feet) and only seriously consider the UC Verde on the main lawn. 

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The FAQ says 128 plugs/tray. And you're probably right about the boysenberries and the nuclear attack: we had raspberries when I was growing up, and my mother had them removed three times before it finally worked. They were never watered, but they flourished. 

Hmmmm.

 

I forgot about blackberries.  They do really well here.  Although they like the shores of streams I don't think that they actually need a ton of water.

 

OTOH, they take up a lot of room, are extremely invasive, and have some of the nastiest thorns around. 

 

Hmmmm....

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I was just coming to the Chat board to post about our lawn on the other thread, when I saw this thread. Perfect timing. I don't have time to read all the replies yet (I got about halfway through), b/c I'm -- get this -- about to head over to the nursery in my truck to get more mulch. For my sad little former lawn. :) Anyway, I'll add our solution -- it may be useful for local folks.

 

We have neighbors with astroturf; neighbors with just rocks (quite pretty, actually); friends who went "native" several years ago and are all set; and many neighbors who are putting in natives now or this fall. (And then there are the folks we know who just spent $40k (yes, this is the Bay Area! haha) on landscaping their yard, with non-drought-resistant plants. :glare: )

 

Anyway, we live on a hill (sloping front yard) with a small front yard and no more kids to play on it. As they say: If the only person who walks on your grass is the person who mows your lawn ... why not get rid of grass? :) Yes, as PPs said, it's seasonal here; the grass dies in summer and comes back with a vengeance during the rainy season. However, the patches of bare ground were crying out for something to protect them from baking in the summer, look more aesthetically pleasing, improve the (adobe-like) soil, and prevent a landslide during the (hopefully!) coming El Niño. A local homeschooler runs a concern called "Bringing Back the Natives," and sponsors garden tours every spring for inspiration. (Homeschooling friends of ours have been featured on past tours, and they've given me cuttings from their native plants which have done GREAT in the back yard. I should have started on the front yard last year ... Once the plants are established, they can live with NO water from April to December ...)

 

So ... I'm currently (all by my little self) hauling mulch from the nursery (although the "Natives" folks told me that tree services often give it away FREE -- I plan to look into that) and covering my lawn. You can either put cardboard between the grass and the mulch, or not (you want to kill the grass, but there are concerns about glues etc. in the cardboard affecting the soil, if you ever want to grow edible plants in the future). In the fall I will plant natives here and there. There are so many absolutely gorgeous, colorful native plants -- that need next to no water all summer once established -- that I was going to change over our lawn anyway. But this has been the impetus. Scroll through the photos on this page (the nursery from which I order all of my natives) -- you can choose plants to flower in so many colors and at so many different times, the lawn will never look "dead." The top row of photos on that webpage link to plants that flower in May -- Aug. -- Nov. -- and Feb. (Their website is crammed with information and photos; you can choose plants for your exact microclimate.) I am soooo excited. I have a bunch of plants in my back yard that are thriving -- California fuchsia, blue-eyed and yellow-eyed grasses; sages; buckwheats; lavenders; etc. On my wishlist are penstemons, salvias, and more buckwheat.

Gorgeous. Just gorgeous. And don't need to be watered.

 

Here are some photos of a recent workshop at which volunteers installed Netafim.

 

ETA: I only seem to be able to upload photos that are less than 15 kB ... otherwise I'd add a photo of our good friends' garden. It really is fabulous -- a feast for the senses. A lot of the plants are 5 or 6 feet high, and they always have bees, butterflies, hummingbirds (and other critters) buzzing around. As do we in our little garden in the back. Our local library and other places in the community also have "natives" gardens -- gorgeous colors, scents, wildlife!

Thanks for those websites. They look great. I have to admit, at first the idea of "going native" did not appeal. Our foothills right now are basically dried grass and a few scrub oaks and live oaks. That's what I think of as "going native". Not exactly something you'd like to reproduce in your yard. But those sites had some nice ideas. I'll have to look at them a little more closely.
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I don't understand why lawns are even a thing in drought prone areas?? I can't grow cactus in my yard because of my climate. How in the world did having a grassy green lawn ever become the norm in that area??

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I don't understand why lawns are even a thing in drought prone areas?? I can't grow cactus in my yard because of my climate. How in the world did having a grassy green lawn ever become the norm in that area??

 

For the same reason CA graduates sit in the sun baking away in medieval European scholar garb every summer: it's what's always been done. The transplants (who designed and bought the houses) brought it with them.

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We are in Central Valley of CA. We have dug out the grass one shovel full at a time. When we see a tree service chipping branches we ask if they will dump the bark on our driveway. Some will. So that's free. Then we planted drought tolerant plants. Some are beautiful and still have flowers and look airy. Once established they require little water. We have many fruit trees, vegetables and a pool and yet we are still in the lowest tier of water usage. We have a small bit of grass left out front, it is shaded by a large tree and still is green, though we are down to watering 2 days a week. We catch water in the shower as it is warming up, same in the kitchen. When I wash veggies I catch that water. It all goes out to water the newer shrubs or the veggies, depending on if it's grey water or fresh. Leftover water from reusable water bottles is used the water the 1 pot I have. The only sprinklers that are not on a drip system are for the small bit of grass. All the rest is watered by drip.  One day last week I needed to clean out a huge rubbermaid tub that was very dirty (like it had been filled with dirt previously). I knew it would require use of the hose. So I washed the tub (no soap) right next to a bush that was looking a little wilted. In the past I would have done that near the tap. Now I know that that water had better be going to something that needs it. 

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I swear I just read an article online in last couple days where it stated CA was giving rebates for turning your yard into " drought friendly". The rebate was based on square foot.

That's right. There are rebates per square foot of lawn removed. Many of my neighbors are converting lawns to "artificial grass" or drought resistant plants+wood mulch. I am not sure what to do for my own yard yet.

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I don't understand why lawns are even a thing in drought prone areas?? I can't grow cactus in my yard because of my climate. How in the world did having a grassy green lawn ever become the norm in that area??

ahhh the 50s. 

 

"Communities began mandating that every home maintain uniformly trimmed lawns; failure to do so was seen as subversive and anti-community. "

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/underused-unifo-150531

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I don't understand why lawns are even a thing in drought prone areas?? I can't grow cactus in my yard because of my climate. How in the world did having a grassy green lawn ever become the norm in that area??

We have irrigation. Its not just lawns. We don't look like a desert. We have orchards, vineyards, cotton fields.... this is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world. However, they didn't plan for the population growth, the aquifers are giving out, the floor of the Central Valley is actually dropping because the aquifers are diminishing.  Plus, the environmental regs... it all adds up to this problem.

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Some areas in CA don't have water meters.

 

I don't understand this, I am in SC in an area that is generally pretty abundant with water and our water costs are higher than the prices mentioned in these articles.

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/08/us-usa-california-drought-idUSKBN0MZ14V20150408

 

http://www.contracostatimes.com/breaking-news/ci_28126287/california-drought-town-fights-turning-long-installed-water

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They didn't plan?

 

Who is "they"?

 

Shouldn't it be "we"?

 

The aquifers aren't giving out. They were sucked dry.

 

Environmental regulations attempt to keep that process from continuing.

 

This is not a natural disaster. It is a man-made catastrophe that was a hundred years planned and voted in by the population of California and quietly accepted by the rest of North America for the sake of cheap almonds and avocados and lettuce.

 

We did this.

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There's a lot of infrastructure that could have been implemented long ago to prevent some of the hurt. San Diego started raising the level of their dam in 2011 to make sure it would hold more water when the time comes. There aren't nearly as many water canals as there needs to be to capture and redirect rain water when it does rain. The city I grew up in didn't have gutters in most of the city since it was all rural-type homes. 

 

We should ALL be frustrated at the California government for this because this affects the rest of the nation. Prices of fruits and vegetables are going to get higher and higher and we all are going to have to pay for this. 

 

"So a loss of California ag production would hit hard consumers’ wallets and their diets would become less balanced.This is because our state produces a sizable majority of American fruits, vegetables and nuts; 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots and the list goes on and on. A lot of this is due to our soil and climate. No other state, or even a combination of states, can match California’s output per acre."                                                                                                                                                                               http://westernfarmpress.com/tree-nuts/what-happens-if-us-loses-california-food-production        

 

My dad grows houseplants. He went through the last drought and knew it was only inevitable that another drought would come. He installed a water capture system. He's become so efficient at watering his plants that very little is getting captured for reuse. He's installed solar panels to lower the cost of running the fans during the summer. He had all of this done years ago.

 

It's not like droughts are unheard of in California. They had plenty of time and money (if they had their priorities straight) to do this. But they made it an emergency. I suppose it's the only way to get the people clinging to their green lush lawns to finally change. 

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For the same reason CA graduates sit in the sun baking away in medieval European scholar garb every summer: it's what's always been done. The transplants (who designed and bought the houses) brought it with them.

 

Gah! This reminds me of living in west TX. All the homes in the neighborhood--well, the whole town really--had lawns. I'd only seen one with xeriscaping. We only lived there 5 years but if we'd stayed we'd have considered xeriscape. Knowing we'd be moving, we kept the grass because, y'know, houses are "supposed" to have green lawns. :rolleyes:

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