Tag Archive for: lawn

Letting Go of Our Love of Lawns

Lynetta McElroy stands outside her home on a tree-lined street in the south L.A. neighborhood of Leimert Park, where she’s lived since the 1980s.

“Leimert Park was known for its beautiful lawns,” McElroy said. “No fences, and you could go to one corner and you could see just about to the next corner. It gave a community feeling. I’ve always loved this area. And it took a while to get a home in this area, needless to say.”

Water Efficient Yard is 2022 Helix Water District Landscape Contest Winner

A thriving, water-efficient yard in La Mesa is the winner of the Helix Water District’s 2022 WaterSmart Landscape Contest.

Homeowner Nick Voinov worked for a decade to transform his turf into its current WaterSmart residential landscape. It didn’t always look as bright and colorful as it does today.

“I love plants and found them more appealing than a lawn,” said Voinov. “I thought it was a bit of a waste because I had to water it every day, and then once you mowed it, it was hauled off to the dump. It was like a crop that you grew and then threw away.”

Opinion: In Southern Nevada’s Endless Water Crisis, We’re Well Past the Time to be Lawn Gone

The front lawn came with the house we moved into a couple years ago.

The patch of Bermudagrass was smaller than an average putting green and easy to mow. The splash of deep green was cute as far as that goes, but it was out of place on a street that had largely made the transition to colored rock and water-smart landscaping.

Beyond the postcard aesthetics, it made zero sense to continue to water a lawn in the desert. Setting aside the politics of climate change and our arid land with its endless water crisis — a basic definition of “desert” — there were no children at home to play on it. And I could live with the dogs’ disappointment. In short, there was nothing to debate.

Love Your Lawn-Conservation Corner-Love your lawn organically

Love Your Lawn Organically

In a waterwise landscape, there’s still a place for turf. You may not need as much, and you need to create the most efficient and organic maintenance plan possible to work turf into your design. The good news: lawns maintained organically and with efficient irrigation can offer a cool, practical surface for active recreation, or just a nice place to relax with your family.

Most lawns require too much water and energy. They become pollution sources from excess fertilizers and pesticide runoff. When lawns are limited to accessible, usable, high-functioning spaces like children’s play yards, sports fields, and picnicking areas, you can prevent this.

Love your lawn organically

Reconsider the concept of lawns. They should not be passive, wall-to-wall groundcover. You don’t need to maintain so much lawn if you won’t enjoy it for the above purposes.

As you decide how much grass to keep in your plan, follow these guidelines to maintain it organically.

  • Top dress your lawn annually with one-eighth to one-quarter of compost.
  • Aerate and de-thatch your lawn annually.
  • Check and control irrigation overspray. Fix problems promptly.
  • Maintain three to four inches of height on cool season grass, and 1.5 to two inches of height on warm season grass.
  • Grass-cycle every time you mow.
  • Don’t allow seed heads to form on the grass. Remove seeds that do form.
  • Consider over-seeding with clover to help make the grass more interesting looking and more drought tolerant.
  • Eliminate the use of chemicals such as pesticides on your grass.
If you decide to keep your grass areas, follow these guidelines to maintain it organically. Photo: Alicja/Creative Commons

If you decide to keep your grass areas, follow these guidelines to maintain it organically. Photo: Alicja/Creative Commons

What’s the difference between Cool Season Grass and Warm Season Grass?

Cool Season Grass:

  • Needs more water than warm season grass and is considered a high use plant.
  • Requires watering in hot summers to prevent it from going dormant and turning brown.
  • Grows typically as bunch grasses and propagates by seed or weak stolons.
  • Cool season grass is easily smothered by sheet mulching.
  • Varieties include: Bent Grass (Agrostis), Fescue varieties (Festuca), Kentucky Bluegress (Poa pratensis), and Perennial Ryegrass (Lolium perenne).

Warm Season Grass:

  • Uses a moderate amount of water.
  • Thrives in daytime temperatures over 80 degrees. It will go dormant (brown) in winter months when it is cooler.
  • Grows from sturdy rhizomes extending deep underground.
  • Warm season grasses require physical removal and/or extensive sheet mulching (up to 12 inches).
  • Varieties inclue: Bermuda Grass (Cynodon dactylan), Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis), Buffalo Grass (Buchloe actyloides), St. Augustine Grass (Stenotaphrum secundatum), Zoysia, and Seashore Paspalum.

This article is part of a year-long series inspired by the 71-page Sustainable Landscapes Program guidebook. The Water Authority and its partners also offer other great resources for landscaping upgrades, including free WaterSmart classes at WaterSmartSD.org.

Homeowners Can Apply For Rebates to Transform Their Landscape. Here’s How

The San Diego County Water Authority is offering a rebate for homeowners willing to replace their lawns with more water-friendly landscape. Residents in the water authority’s service area can apply to get a rebate of $3 for every square-foot of lawn they replace with drought-tolerant plants; $2 will be provided by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and $1 will come from the water authority. Use this calculator to estimate your rebate amount.

Helix Water District: New Video Helps You Program Your Controller And Water Efficiently

As we enter the summer season with its longer and hotter days, your landscape will require more water to stay healthy. Correctly programming your irrigation controller is key to keeping your plants thriving, and your water bill low.