Anyone who is following the news knows that our region, in fact the entire Western United States is going through a severe draught. The generally dryer conditions we enjoy here in Southern California are being exacerbated by climate change and the severity of this lengthy drought condition is impacting the entire region, especially our water resources which are being dramatically depleted. Without going into depth about where most of our water is coming from (imported, snow melt, and aquifers), I need only say that conservation of this life sustaining resource is vital.
Over the years the topic of a homes lawn has come up often with my clients. Many have wanted a home to have a lawn for the children to play on, or they just like the way they look. Others have opted to have the lawn removed and introduced either a xeriscape landscape or, as I am about to do, plant a combination of an edible garden with a variety of fruit trees and garden beds as well as xeriscape plantings. (The image to the right is of an edible garden.)* 81% of all Americans have a lawn (about 40 million acres of lawn in the US), and a vast majority – 79%– say that a lawn is an important feature when renting or buying a home. But lawn upkeep takes resources: water; fertilizer, pesticides, and herbicides that enter groundwater and runoff water; and mowers that burn fossil fuels and emit gases that heat up the atmosphere. One square foot of sod is responsible for at least 135 gallons of water use in a year. If homeowners converted just 50% of their land to native plantings, it would collectively create an area larger than all national parks in the US combined. (Businesswire)
* Israel has always been a leader in water conservation because of its location and desert climate but recently they have taken their efforts above and beyond. Israel recycles 85% of its wastewater and within the next three years, 50% of its farming needs will be using recycled water. They have 300+ desalination plants that provide water for the country and export over $2 billion worth of filtered saltwater to other countries in need. Saudi Arabia converted all of its desalination plants to be powered with solar energy and is the largest producer of desalinated water. A $1 billion desalination plant – the largest in the US – on the coast in Carlsbad, 35 miles north of San Diego, opened in 2015, generating up to 56,000 acre-feet of water a year — roughly 8% of San Diego County’s water supply.
The worst drought in almost a century has left millions facing water shortages and the risk of power blackouts in Brazil. Healthy soil better withstands drought and flooding. The chemical controls needed to get rid of moss and “weeds” in lawns release carbon into the atmosphere during their production, and their application reduces biodiversity. Bees and other pollinators support about 35% of agricultural land across the world. (FT)
Landscaping and Images by Marillee Kuhlman, Landscape Designer