• Two adjacent lawnsThis is based on a true story that happened to me last week in my neighborhood. The names have been changed to keep the peace.

      By Robin Southworth

      We met as we always do – on either side of Mary’s front yard fence. This day, I was walking to the supermarket; Mary was scooping brown stuff out of a bucket and scattering it over her thick, green lawn. I stopped, inquired about her health, and asked what she was doing.

      I’m re-seeding the brown spots.

      My brain seemed to recall something about new grass needing a lot of water before it takes root. Our city, in the middle of a drought so severe that lawn watering is limited to two days a week, is encouraging home owners to let their lawns “go golden”. My lawn is already dead. The only things I water are my herbs, a Meyer lemon tree, and blackberry bushes. Even those get watered with “grey” water – water left over from washing up, washing my hair, the dregs in the dog’s water bowl. Everything else can die. The lawn will come back. The front yard shrubs will be replaced.

      While my mind whirled at the idea of re-seeding a lawn during the drought, Mary kept talking about her yard, about the drought, about the importance of keeping her yard fully seeded. Blah, blah, blah.

      “I guess I could let the lawn die,” her head turned to look up and down the street, her eyes filled with disgust as she continued, “like everyone else seems to have done. I refuse to let my shrubs die. It would take so much work to replace them. The grass will come back, I suppose, but,” here she stopped and pondered for a moment, “all the trees and shrubs are on a drip system. I guess I could hand-water them. Oh, but how time-consuming.” The idea of letting her lawn die, keeping her decorative front yard trees and shrubs hand-watered, and generally doing her part in this water emergency vanished – POOF! – like a discarded, unpleasant thought.

      Watering the lawnI was already aware that Mary was flaunting water rules. She was on vacation from work last week and watered her back yard plants in early afternoon. Her backyard sprinkler was turned on in the early evening. The local water district asks us not to water except on Tuesdays and Saturdays and then not between the hours of 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. That’s it. Pretty simple guidelines, actually.

      With the exception of her yard, everyone else on the street is letting their lawns go, at the very least, yellow. A couple neighbors have vegetables in their front yards and keep them watered (as they are allowed to do).

      I fear that, at some point, the water company and local governments will encourage neighbors to snitch on neighbors who still have green lawns. Some of those green lawn owners can, no doubt, afford to pay extra for their metered water, but they can’t really afford to alienate their neighbors with the flaunting of drought water rules.

      Everyone has to pitch in. No more selfishness and thinking that rules don’t apply to YOU. We are in a dire water situation. It requires the same effort, the same pulling together, the same discipline that our parents and grandparents had to muster during World War 2. Instead of the Fascists, we are fighting a much tougher adversary – we are fighting no less than Mother Nature, herself.

      Do your part. Save water. Every drop counts.

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      1. Carol Tompkins says:

        Of course, I’ve never been one for dealing with plant-life. In fact, I’m pretty deadly at it. Yards, bushes, etc. tend to grow better if I just ignore them. That being said, in the places where I’ve lived that have been affected by drought, I’ve been told to pretty much leave the yard alone to the roots will search their way down to find water and become stronger. yeah, it gets kinda yellow, but it sure comes back quickly when the rain finally comes.

        Even though I expect my yard to survive on its own, it totally perplexes me that people can’t seem to understand that watering between 9am-6pm is just plain wasting the water because it evaporates too quickly for the plants to benefit from it. Mom has an irrigation system that she can set as needed. She’s always careful to set it early in the morning. Generally, she runs the sections around the foundation regularly (about 3x per week), because the house has already been leveled twice and she doesn’t want to have to do it again. Other stuff gets watered about once a week, and even that’s sometimes a random occurrence. Outside watering costs buckos that she doesn’t like to spend.

      2. Carol Germain says:

        Although it seems apparent that your neighbor’s attitude probably means she’s not conserving water in general, and I understand your concern, and do wonder about some of my neighbors who have huge green lawns, nevertheless I urge everyone to first be aware of the exact rules (it is not as simple as Tues.&Sat. only, not between 9 and 6 – read the Municipal Code – hand watering is exempt from the Tues.-Sat. restriction, but is subject to the 9-6 restriction). Next, the people who have gone extreme and replaced whole yards with gravel are endangering trees within those gravel areas, because trees take water from lawns and plants being watered around them (it’s not exactly that simple, but there are guidelines for determining whether your big trees need independent watering and specific ways to do it efficiently). Many hideous “rock quarry” yards are appearing thanks to Turf Terminators, who are taking your rebate, putting in minimal amounts of shrubbery and pouring gravel everywhere else. Finally, the bottom line is that it’s overall consumption reduction that counts. So although you might think a neighbor watered on the “wrong” day, or watered too much, or whatever, you haven’t seen their water bill. Lawn watering is something they focused on because it is a water waster and is easy to monitor, but you don’t know what else the person is doing to conserve. I have reduced my water consumption over 50% for the last 2-3 two-month billing periods by being extremely conservative with my inside water usage. So if we have a week of 100 degree weather, and you see me watering on a third day, it’s ok, I’m good, still keeping that 50% reduction, which is at least double what was requested (and I hand water with a hose with a shutoff valve, so actually I’m not restricted to Tues. & Sat. in the first place), so please don’t post a picture of my small little patch of green lawn just because it’s still alive (I have given up, front and back, all but two green sections on the sides of my front walkway, so I will be keeping that little bit green).

      3. Alex Nodopaka says:

        My suggestion is to either pump water from where there’s plenty or to move out of the drought-afflicted areas even if it means leaving California all together. Several upshots from such move. For one there’ll less people in California and more important is that we live only once. So to hell with you ninnies! The whole of southern California is an artificial glitz eco system anyway…lol

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