A lawn is not going to stay green without considerable regular watering. Lawns are notorious water guzzlers and are really not ideal in drought stricken areas of the country such as California. It is hard to keep your lawn looking lush if you are experiencing water restrictions. A well trimmed, green lawn used to be a symbol of pride in one’s home and neighborhood. Now, especially if you live in a region that receives insufficient rainfall, it may be frowned upon and seen as a symbol of irresponsibility and excessive water usage. Some homeowners have taken to putting signs in their yard with slogans such as “Brown is the New Green” to show their support for saving water.
LAWNS ARE EVERYWHERE
Water supplies everywhere are under increasing pressure as populations grow. The water table has dropped hundreds of feet in many locations and rivers and streams are drying up for long periods as water is syphoned off for use in agriculture, industry and residences. As more and more natural landscape is converted to human tailored areas, this changes the cycling of water and carbon.
According to a study funded by NASA, the lawns and golf courses in the United States cover nearly 50, 000 square miles, an area roughly the size of New York State, and need a staggering amount of water to keep them well irrigated. More surface area is devoted to lawns than to any other single irrigated crop in the country. You’ll find lawns across all states despite differing climate and soil conditions. The problem, according to Cristina Milesi, leader of the NASA study, is that most lawns are not native to the area they are grown. People move and they transport their garden preferences with them without considering suitability to the climate. Cristina says:
HIGH WATER USE & FERTILIZER
“Many of the grass species come from the East, Kentucky bluegrass, for example. A lawn isn’t a big deal in the northeast, but when you recreate that same landscape out West, it becomes a major ecological issue because the only way to grow those grasses is with high use of water and nitrogen fertilizer. An individual, quarter-acre lawn isn’t a big ecological influence, but adding up all those quarter-acres for everyone in the country can have a huge ecological impact.”
Cacti and succulents should reign in the desert, but in many areas you will find super green grass surrounded by beds of needy annuals. Lawns require a great deal of care and coddling in order to look good and that usually includes pesticides – never a good addition to our lives.
Even in Vancouver, Canada, an area that gets lots of rain, many people are reconsidering whether to keep their lawns because of dreaded chafer beetles that have been infesting the city. The beetles lay their larvae in the lawns which are then destroyed by foraging animals who dig them up to lunch on the bugs. Some of the lawns look like they have been rotor tilled.
The drought we are experiencing is not a one off situation. Water conditions are unlikely to get any better so it is worth making plans to change that green bit of luxury to a “greener” alternative.