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(Phys Org2)   American cities increasingly paying residents to get rid of water-hungry lawns and replace grass with drought-tolerant plants, rocks and pebbles   (phys.org ) divider line
    More: Interesting, California Center, Glendora, environmental awareness, succulents, droughts, irrigation sprinklers, landscapings, lawns  
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1231 clicks; posted to Geek » on 03 Aug 2014 at 9:20 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-08-03 07:48:46 AM  
"get off my rocks" just doesn't have the same ring to it.
 
2014-08-03 08:37:21 AM  
That explains why I'm waking up to "Get off my lawn, you lush", more and more, lately.
 
2014-08-03 09:28:02 AM  
GrumpyCat Good.jpeg

/ there isn't enough water much of the US to justify having one. (even here in the PNW!)
// I blame the 1950's for popularizing the lawn as we know it...
 
2014-08-03 09:36:10 AM  
"Hay, you kids, get outta my marijuana patch!" has a ring to it.
 
2014-08-03 09:48:55 AM  
Honestly, I've never been clear on the benefits of a lawn. Trees are great, aesthetic and functional, but I've never cottoned to grass, even as a kid.
I guess it's softer to fall down on for the 6-12 year-old run-around-all-the-things set, but when I was that age, dirt was way more interesting - sculptable and diggable.
 
2014-08-03 09:49:27 AM  
Good.
 
2014-08-03 09:53:41 AM  
My buddy who lives in Central Texas wanted to do something like that with his front yard, but his HOA said no.
 
2014-08-03 09:58:02 AM  
I actually looked into getting fake grass at one point.

I don't live in the desert, I'm just lazy.
 
2014-08-03 09:59:39 AM  

starsrift: Honestly, I've never been clear on the benefits of a lawn. Trees are great, aesthetic and functional, but I've never cottoned to grass, even as a kid.
I guess it's softer to fall down on for the 6-12 year-old run-around-all-the-things set, but when I was that age, dirt was way more interesting - sculptable and diggable.


The major benefit of a planted lawn is erosion control, especially on hilly lots. Two days of heavy rain can really mess up an uncovered hill.

But I'm open to the idea of something like an all-clover lawn. My dad has had all-zoysia for years... very hardy during droughts.
 
2014-08-03 10:01:22 AM  
It's called xeriscaping and more people should do it. Bonus: No stupid lawn care.
 
2014-08-03 10:01:53 AM  
The problem is people tend to OVER-water their lawns because, ya know, more is better.  Meanwhile, nothing could be further from the truth.  My lawn looks better than the idiots in my neighborhood who have their sprinkler systems come on every damn day (rain or shine) at 5AM.  The key to a decent lawn is the root system, and over-watering wrecks that.  You want the roots to 'go looking' for water further down in the ground, not finding it just below the surface.

I water my lawn deeply (well water) once a week, but ONLY if it hasn't rained.

Oh and that rock and pebble look?  That's great when you first put it down, but in about a year you'll go broke buying 'Round-Up' once the weeds break through that "impenetrable" plastic they lay under it.

/ you may now get off my lawn
// and sweep your friggin pebbles off the sidewalk
/// and go buy gallons of weed/grass killer with which to poison the environment
 
2014-08-03 10:02:59 AM  
Lawns are a testament to wastefulness.

- millions of gallons of clean municipal water per year, wasted
- millions of pounds of chemicals put into the soil and water table
- millions of pounds of pollution put into the atmosphere by low-efficiency fossil fuel machines
- millions of person-hours spent tending a non-indigenous, and therefore difficult to maintain, plant

per year.

How much better off would we be if we could get rid of just two totally un-needed things - bottled water, and the suburban lawn?
 
2014-08-03 10:03:41 AM  
Or, skip the hamburgers.

Between the cow and the feed for the cow, one 8oz hamburger patty used up enough water (~2000 gallons) to irrigate a thousand square foot lawn two or three times.
 
2014-08-03 10:14:59 AM  

starsrift: Honestly, I've never been clear on the benefits of a lawn. Trees are great, aesthetic and functional, but I've never cottoned to grass, even as a kid.
I guess it's softer to fall down on for the 6-12 year-old run-around-all-the-things set, but when I was that age, dirt was way more interesting - sculptable and diggable.


It's a status symbol from back when only the wealthy spent time creating purely decorative lawns and gardens. Then when suburbs happened having your own little lawn was part of the appeal since it was still a status symbol but also a symbol of getting away from city life. Personally, if I'm going to put any effort into maintaining plants I'd rather grow vegetables so I actually get something out of it.
 
2014-08-03 10:33:08 AM  

clkeagle: But I'm open to the idea of something like an all-clover lawn. My dad has had all-zoysia for years... very hardy during droughts.


I can't believe that clover is supposed to be an unwanted grass, like a weed. White clover is the best grass there is. I planted clover all over my yard, and it stays green better than the regular grass, grows better, doesn't get tall, doesn't need as much water, and it's the only thing that grows well in cold weather and crappy soil. And I think that I spend too much time babying that.

Waste of time trying to garden or keep a nice lawn around here, anyway, since we only have a couple months of non-freezing weather each year. For the time and expense you need to make a "nice" yard, (and the pollution), you might as well just tend the weeds.
 
2014-08-03 10:35:50 AM  

flucto: "get off my rocks" just doesn't have the same ring to it.


"Get off my pebbles!" even less so.
 
2014-08-03 10:41:03 AM  

Forbidden Doughnut: GrumpyCat Good.jpeg

/ there isn't enough water much of the US to justify having one. (even here in the PNW!)
// I blame the 1950's for popularizing the lawn as we know it...


There's plenty of water, just too many people.

/Thin the herd
 
2014-08-03 10:42:44 AM  

odinsposse: It's a status symbol from back when only the wealthy spent time creating purely decorative lawns and gardens.


Since when did the wealthy ever work on their own lawns? Isn't that what the servants were for?
 
2014-08-03 10:44:21 AM  

cryinoutloud: clkeagle: But I'm open to the idea of something like an all-clover lawn. My dad has had all-zoysia for years... very hardy during droughts.

I can't believe that clover is supposed to be an unwanted grass, like a weed. White clover is the best grass there is. I planted clover all over my yard, and it stays green better than the regular grass, grows better, doesn't get tall, doesn't need as much water, and it's the only thing that grows well in cold weather and crappy soil. And I think that I spend too much time babying that.

Waste of time trying to garden or keep a nice lawn around here, anyway, since we only have a couple months of non-freezing weather each year. For the time and expense you need to make a "nice" yard, (and the pollution), you might as well just tend the weeds.


Clovers are great for any place with less then ideal soil. They are a nitrogen fixer. Which means they put nitrogen into the soil. That's why they are used as a rotation cover crop.
 
2014-08-03 10:45:55 AM  
The problem with this entire theory is that when residents dramatically cut back on water use, cities tend to raise the rates dramatically to compensate for lost revenue. Gee, thanks so much for rewarding my good behavior.
 
2014-08-03 10:50:27 AM  
My city is under stage three water restrictions, which means watering your lawn is allowed only one day every two weeks.  Most people seem to comply with this and their lawns are doing fine - gets to the point above that most people tend to over water their lawns.
 
2014-08-03 10:50:38 AM  

Tobin_Lam: odinsposse: It's a status symbol from back when only the wealthy spent time creating purely decorative lawns and gardens.

Since when did the wealthy ever work on their own lawns? Isn't that what the servants were for?


Only the wealthy could afford servants.

Or, in the case of gardens, many a wealthy person has spent waaaaaaay too much time masturbating orchids with a feather in a green house to produce a new color of bloom because only a very wealthy person could afford the orchids and still have enough free time to diddle them all day.
 
2014-08-03 10:58:23 AM  

doglover: Tobin_Lam: odinsposse: It's a status symbol from back when only the wealthy spent time creating purely decorative lawns and gardens.

Since when did the wealthy ever work on their own lawns? Isn't that what the servants were for?

Only the wealthy could afford servants.

Or, in the case of gardens, many a wealthy person has spent waaaaaaay too much time masturbating orchids with a feather in a green house to produce a new color of bloom because only a very wealthy person could afford the orchids and still have enough free time to diddle them all day.


Wealthy people were also likely orchid diddlers? That's a pretty funny image.
 
2014-08-03 11:09:25 AM  
I've got probably an acre of lawn... watered it... um.... never.  I suppose it makes sense to natural-scape in a place where grasses don't already grow freely.

We all know, however, that the instant those sweet sweet dollars stop flowing they'll just raise the rates to compensate - and then resell the "saved" water.  There's never going to be a tapped out river/aquifer returned to its former flowing glory by conservation of water by homeowners - that water will be diverted somewhere else (which might very well be a good thing if it grows more food) but leaving it in the river/ground is never going to be one of those options.
 
2014-08-03 11:17:01 AM  

Fizpez: that water will be diverted somewhere else


desertmountainlifestyle.com
 
2014-08-03 11:18:50 AM  
As with any high quality article, there are pictures of what a lawn looks like, which everyone already knows, but zero pictures of what the actual topic of the article, a "drought-tolerant yard" looks like.  Their best attempt is a "before" picture of a couple landscapers THINKING about what it will look like.  Farking brilliant.
 
2014-08-03 11:19:11 AM  

Forbidden Doughnut: GrumpyCat Good.jpeg

/ there isn't enough water much of the US to justify having one. (even here in the PNW!)
// I blame the 1950's for popularizing the lawn as we know it...


Lawns are a lot older than that. They were a sign of wealth back in the 18th century, since only the very rich could afford to waste money on having grass cut by hand. Then the lawnmower was invented in the 19th century and the middle class got in on the act.

Old habits die hard.
 
2014-08-03 11:20:00 AM  

Tobin_Lam: doglover: Tobin_Lam: odinsposse: It's a status symbol from back when only the wealthy spent time creating purely decorative lawns and gardens.

Since when did the wealthy ever work on their own lawns? Isn't that what the servants were for?

Only the wealthy could afford servants.

Or, in the case of gardens, many a wealthy person has spent waaaaaaay too much time masturbating orchids with a feather in a green house to produce a new color of bloom because only a very wealthy person could afford the orchids and still have enough free time to diddle them all day.

Wealthy people were also likely orchid diddlers? That's a pretty funny image.


www.venuivanilla.com
 
2014-08-03 11:23:21 AM  

erik-k: Or, skip the hamburgers.

Between the cow and the feed for the cow, one 8oz hamburger patty used up enough water (~2000 gallons) to irrigate a thousand square foot lawn two or three times.


You do know you can raise cattle places where it rains frequently and then ship the beef to the desert?
 
2014-08-03 11:32:16 AM  
For years I have been pushing to convert the lawns to Illinois natural prairie.  For some reason the lady thinks that I am just trying to get out of mowing the lawns.  I could go for a rock garden or even astroturf.  Water isn't really a concern here though as we opted to not live in a f'ing desert.
 
2014-08-03 11:34:20 AM  

starsrift: Honestly, I've never been clear on the benefits of a lawn. Trees are great, aesthetic and functional, but I've never cottoned to grass, even as a kid.
I guess it's softer to fall down on for the 6-12 year-old run-around-all-the-things set, but when I was that age, dirt was way more interesting - sculptable and diggable.


Awesome word usage.
 
2014-08-03 11:41:47 AM  
I've replaced my lawn with dead grass. Where's my money?
 
2014-08-03 11:45:35 AM  
Lawns. Blech. I hate yard work. I'm exceedingly happy that in my Boston-area condo I have maybe 20 sq ft of planter space in front of my porch. Some bulbs, some shrubs, some ivy - done. We have a sea of pots in the back for vegetables. They work out fine and I'd have to make raised beds with proper protection underneath because of all the wall candy that got mixed in the soil around here.
 
2014-08-03 11:46:39 AM  

Tobin_Lam: odinsposse: It's a status symbol from back when only the wealthy spent time creating purely decorative lawns and gardens.

Since when did the wealthy ever work on their own lawns? Isn't that what the servants were for?


Who said anything about doing the actual work?  The wealthy spent their time and money planning their lawns and gardens.  As you pointed out, the servants were the ones sweating.
 
2014-08-03 12:00:38 PM  

Lord Jubjub: Tobin_Lam: odinsposse: It's a status symbol from back when only the wealthy spent time creating purely decorative lawns and gardens.

Since when did the wealthy ever work on their own lawns? Isn't that what the servants were for?

Who said anything about doing the actual work?  The wealthy spent their time and money planning their lawns and gardens.  As you pointed out, the servants were the ones sweating.


anglotopia.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com
 
2014-08-03 12:04:54 PM  
I don't get it. Never watered a yard and the grass grows just fine. Oh, that stuff falling from the sky? It's magic water. If you had to water a yard you probably shouldn't have one.
 
2014-08-03 12:12:48 PM  

NBSV: I don't get it. Never watered a yard and the grass grows just fine. Oh, that stuff falling from the sky? It's magic water. If you had to water a yard you probably shouldn't have one.


You must be like me and chose to live where there is water and it actually suitable for human habitation.  You know what dessert dwellers?  We have more water than we know what to do with.  Suck it if  you live in a desert.
 
2014-08-03 01:25:36 PM  

Fizpez: I've got probably an acre of lawn... watered it... um.... never.  I suppose it makes sense to natural-scape in a place where grasses don't already grow freely.

We all know, however, that the instant those sweet sweet dollars stop flowing they'll just raise the rates to compensate - and then resell the "saved" water.  There's never going to be a tapped out river/aquifer returned to its former flowing glory by conservation of water by homeowners - that water will be diverted somewhere else (which might very well be a good thing if it grows more food) but leaving it in the river/ground is never going to be one of those options.


In California, the water we don't use for lawns is pretty much guaranteed to go to agriculture.

Or river rehab....they actually did a water release from the Colorado earlier this year, and it was the first time in *decades* that a running river hit the Sea of Cortez.

/only water my lawn once a week. Dog needs a place to poop.
 
2014-08-03 02:13:24 PM  

flucto: The problem with this entire theory is that when residents dramatically cut back on water use, cities tend to raise the rates dramatically to compensate for lost revenue. Gee, thanks so much for rewarding my good behavior.


I came to say this. Leaving satisfied.ug
 
2014-08-03 02:29:24 PM  

flucto: The problem with this entire theory is that when residents dramatically cut back on water use, cities tend to raise the rates dramatically to compensate for lost revenue. Gee, thanks so much for rewarding my good behavior.


Another take on this is that if you really want people to cut back on water use, just raise the price. Simple economics will show that as the price goes up people will use less.
 
2014-08-03 02:46:27 PM  

KidneyStone: KWess: Lawns are a testament to wastefulness.

- millions of gallons of clean municipal water per year, wasted
- millions of pounds of chemicals put into the soil and water table
- millions of pounds of pollution put into the atmosphere by low-efficiency fossil fuel machines
- millions of person-hours spent tending a non-indigenous, and therefore difficult to maintain, plant

per year.

How much better off would we be if we could get rid of just two totally un-needed things - bottled water, and the suburban lawn?

The only thing I do in your rant is use a gas mower. I don't think I use 3 gallons of gas per year.


Pretty much.  I mow the lawn about once a week with a gas mower.  That's it.  The lawns look good to me.  Like hell if I am going to use a push mower.  What am I Amish?  And I also cannot remember the last time that I put gas in the mower.  This will do a number on you KWess.  I also have a snow blower and two cars.
 
2014-08-03 03:18:21 PM  
You plant a crop. You water it. You fertilize it. You weed it. Then when it grows, you cut it down and throw it away.
 
2014-08-03 03:32:38 PM  

erik-k: Or, skip the hamburgers.

Between the cow and the feed for the cow, one 8oz hamburger patty used up enough water (~2000 gallons) to irrigate a thousand square foot lawn two or three times.


Do you have a citation for that?
 
2014-08-03 03:43:28 PM  
But it's my God-given right to drain the aquifer dry to have a greener lawn than the Joneses.  Obama's taking my freedom away again.

Also, Al Gore.
 
2014-08-03 04:10:38 PM  
My brother got a tax credit (or something) in SoCal to convert his front lawn into a rock garden and put turf in his backyard. I'm pretty sure he was the only person in his neighborhood to do it, and many people in the neighborhood are breaking the rules about watering their lawns. Is their a reward for diming on these people?
 
2014-08-03 04:12:30 PM  

Krieghund: Forbidden Doughnut: GrumpyCat Good.jpeg

/ there isn't enough water much of the US to justify having one. (even here in the PNW!)
// I blame the 1950's for popularizing the lawn as we know it...

Lawns are a lot older than that. They were a sign of wealth back in the 18th century, since only the very rich could afford to waste money on having grass cut by hand. Then the lawnmower was invented in the 19th century and the middle class got in on the act.

Old habits die hard.


Lawns actually go back to the Middle Ages -- they made it hard for people to sneak up on your castle.
 
2014-08-03 04:19:58 PM  

KWess: Lawns are a testament to wastefulness.

- millions of gallons of clean municipal water per year, wasted
- millions of pounds of chemicals put into the soil and water table
- millions of pounds of pollution put into the atmosphere by low-efficiency fossil fuel machines
- millions of person-hours spent tending a non-indigenous, and therefore difficult to maintain, plant

per year.

How much better off would we be if we could get rid of just two totally un-needed things - bottled water, and the suburban lawn?


In some parts of California 50 percent or more of water usages goes to lawn and landscape care.

I don't think it would be out of the question to just ban watering lawns altogether. The drought is extremely serious, and there are plenty of ways to have a nice looking lawn using desert plants.
 
2014-08-03 04:38:26 PM  
I presume these cities are mostly in the Southwest.  When eastern and Midwestern transplants migrated
to Arizona, they brought grass with them - lawn grass, not marijuana; get your mind out of the freaking
gutter - and not only did the grass suck up a lot of water, it released a lot of pollen into the air.
(Guess even if you do take your sinuses to Arizona, you'll have to bring Dristan.)
 
2014-08-03 04:43:14 PM  

Panty Sniffer: For years I have been pushing to convert the lawns to Illinois natural prairie.  For some reason the lady thinks that I am just trying to get out of mowing the lawns.  I could go for a rock garden or even astroturf.  Water isn't really a concern here though as we opted to not live in a f'ing desert.


This. The guy down the street from me is using bricks and rocks for his front yard img.fark.net
 
2014-08-03 05:31:07 PM  

flaminio: flucto: The problem with this entire theory is that when residents dramatically cut back on water use, cities tend to raise the rates dramatically to compensate for lost revenue. Gee, thanks so much for rewarding my good behavior.

Another take on this is that if you really want people to cut back on water use, just raise the price. Simple economics will show that as the price goes up people will use less.


This. Why are they paying people to do this? Just raise water rates. You can index it so that that the amount needed for an average family for drinking, cooking and showering is somewhat cheap, then the rate goes up from there. Lawns aren't the only things that use a lot of water, they're just a lot easier to notice so they're targeted. If you're trying to save water, raising rates hits the leaky faucets and toilets, the lawns, the guys who wash their cars twice a week, etc. all at the same time.

But if you really want to get a big bang for the buck, stop subsidizing agriculture and its inputs (namely, water). Farm lobbies are too powerful for that, though.
 
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