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Is it Reasonable to Expect that Southern Californians Keep a Green Lawn?

In Orange, CA, there’s a couple who has been charged for not having at least 40% of their yard covered by live landscaping. They had taken the lawn out and replaced it with wood chips to save on water. Many would consider this to be a brilliant move in a drought prone area.

Not the city of Orange, however. They’re charging the homeowner with a misdemeanor. City codes require that 40% coverage. Even his attempt at putting in drought tolerant plants after their first complaint hasn’t been enough to satisfy the city.

Frankly, I find this ridiculous. Southern California is highly prone to droughts, and the situation in recent years has been bad enough for many areas to institute rules about when you can and cannot water your yards. Anyone who finds something other than a lawn to put in is exhibiting good sense in such an area.

This is one city that needs to take a good look at what that requirement really means and if it is reasonable in this day and age. California has been suffering from years of drought, and even the occasional wet year isn’t enough to make up for the many dry ones.

Even the Rockies, where California gets much of its water has been having drought problems.

I wonder what Orange would think if instead of wood chips they had put in one of those artificial lawns. Odds are that no one would have noticed. The yard would have looked nice and green.

That doesn’t mean that artificial lawns are better than wood chips. It just point up the ridiculousness of assuming that you can tell right away.

It’s time for Californians in general, and especially southern Californians to recognize that they need to reconsider lawns. Cities need to figure out water saving landscaping guidelines, and scrap old ones that discourage people from putting in wood chips or other drought tolerant landscaping features.

The same goes for homeowner’s associations. Many neighborhoods have homeowner’s associations do much the same thing, where all homes must have a green lawn. It’s a poor requirement in this day and age for the area.

It would be better for cities to give classes on how to beautifully landscape a yard in ways that use less water. Encouraging homeowners to think beyond lawns would help with water shortages and encourage greater variety in how yards are landscaped.

I would love for this case to be the first step in challenging the law in Orange that requires a particular amount of live planting in yards. We Californians really need to think about our water use. It is not a reasonable expectation that we have green lawns here.