Homeowners getting paid to tear out their lawns
Communities where water is scarce are offering incentives to use alternatives to grass as landscaping.
Are you ready to give up grass on your front lawn? For a lot of Americans, the care and maintenance of a soft, beautiful and uniformly green lawn is a birthright -- no matter what part of the country you live in.
But that mindset may be slowly evolving, as more communities, especially in the water-parched Southwest, use a carrot-and-stick approach to get people to rip out their Kentucky bluegrass and other water-reliant grasses, and replace them with native turf, cacti and other drought-resistant succulents.
The "stick" part of this equation is well-known, especially to people living in areas with drought restrictions: escalating fines and other penalties for residents discovered using too much water. But many communities are also getting results by financially rewarding those who replace that constantly thirsty grass with other landscaping.
The New York Times ran a story Sunday about such conservation efforts in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and other states where water demand is rising and water itself is a very valuable commodity. In Los Angeles, for example, it noted that since 2009 the city has paid homeowners over $1.4 million to get rid of grassy lawns.
But the article says Las Vegas has undergone the most radical change when it comes to local greenery. The Las Vegas Valley Water District, responding to a devastating drought in 2003, came up with what's thought to be the nation's first "turf removal rebate program." In the ensuing decade, the district has paid out close to $200 million to redevelop close to 166 million square feet of previously grass-covered land at homes and businesses.
The rebate rules are strict, however. Watering is very limited, and according to The Times, homeowners who agree to the rebate "must sign a deed restriction stating that even if the property were to be sold, grass could not be reinstalled unless the new owner paid back the rebate, with interest."
Officials say the program is working, even though the population in metro Las Vegas continues to grow. The Water District has saved over 9 billion gallons of water over the past 10 years, while water use in southern Nevada has dropped by a third.
"The era of the lawn in the West is over," Paul Robbins, the director of the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin, told The Times. "The water limits are insurmountable, unless the Scotts Company develops a genetically modified grass that requires almost no water. And I'm sure it's keeping them up at night."
Scotts Miracle-Gro (SMG) -- one of the giants in the lawn industry -- is indeed working on new grasses that are less thirsty but still look and feel like the lawns many Americans know and love.
I live in Corpus Christi in a new sub division. I wanted to zero scape. Guess what? In spite of water restrictions, the HOA (Home Owners Association currently controlled by the developer) of my subdivision requires that I have grass in my front yard and keep it watered. Is this insane or what?????
I've always wondered why people in AZ and NV insist on having lawns, then spending assloads of money keeping the green. In my opinion, you want to landscape with native foliage because if it grows well on it's own with no assistance or human interference, it'll do great in a yard. That's one reason I can't stand those areas. I don't like the drabness and the browns and taupe colors. It's flat and to me, everything looks the same. I have relatives that live in both Arizona and Nevada and think it's the greatest place on earth. I, on the other hand, like mountains and greenery and cooler temperatures. I would love Alaska.
I live in Schertz, TX where there has been a drought for years, However, the city demands that new houses on more than 1/2 acre must put in grass and sprinkler systems. It is in the planning code, article 9 Sec 21.917 C.1. This must be stopped. it is complete waste.
C. Installation and Maintenance
1. Prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for any building or
structure, all screening and landscaping shall be in place in accordance
with the landscape plan approved as part of the site plan which shall
include sod in full front and rear yards, except for landscape beds and
gardens. On property containing a minimum of one-half (1/2) acre or
greater, sod in front and rear yards shall be planted adjacent to the slab for
a distance of fifty feet (50’) and for a distance of twenty feet (20’) in side
Stop the building industry from constructing developments without a guaranteed water supply. Now its "grass" next it is "pools", then bathing every day, and it goes on. Lack of government is the problem.
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