Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Is Having a Green Lawn a Bad Thing?

We hear that if your lawn is brown you are doing things right.  Some people had that down years ago way before it was politically correct.  I called it neglect.  Unsolicited here is where I stand on the water use issue.

If I can find ways to have a green lawn and still save 30-50% on my water usage I should be congratulated not condemned or shunned. 

If the cities want us to not water lawns then they should just say so and we will all enjoy the uglier, warmer, and dustier environment throughout the valley.  We have not been told to cut water usage by 60% from anything that I have read.  If it’s a choice between having drinking water and watering the landscape I’m all for the drinking water.

I maintain that a healthy lawn benefits the community in terms of appearance, home value, significant cooling, erosion control, dust control, air quality, and providing lots of oxygen for us to breathe.  2,500 square feet of turf not only removes large amounts of carbon dioxide, but also provides enough oxygen for a family of four.  Irrigated turf grass is 30 degrees cooler than asphalt and 20 degrees cooler than bare ground.  If we have enough water to wisely irrigate then we should try to keep the lawns.

There are numerous ways to reduce the water required to keep our lawns alive.  There are soil surfactants that increase the soil’s ability to absorb water and keep it available for the grass roots to take up.  I maintain that 95% or more of our current sprinkler systems have both inefficient spray nozzles and archaic time clocks.  Upgrading these can easily save 30 to 50% over traditional irrigation approaches.  Trees and shrubs irrigation could be changed from spray to drip irrigation and easily reduce water usage by 50% and reduce water runoff into streets. 

The idea of watering lawns twice a week at levels 50% below past years to keep the grass on live support is questionable.  Many lawns in our area are tall fescue lawns that will not just bounce back with rains this fall.  They will be clumpy with bare spots that will need overseeding.  Bermuda lawns may take months or years to eventually fill back in depending on the amount of die back.  We may be seeing the loss of many trees in our community as well as we are already seeing the loss of thousands of redwoods prior to mandatory water cut backs.