Front Yard Landscaping Ideas Low Water
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Front Yard

Front Yard Landscaping Ideas Low Water

You’ve heard the drought warnings and emergency declarations. You see your utility bill. You know you’ve got to do something to save water.

With looming cutbacks, it’s time to rethink the lawn. But what will replace it in the New Front Yard?

Imagine a fertile greenbelt of colorful California native flowers alive with hummingbirds and buzzing with bees. Picture a garden space ripe with home-grown fruit and blueberries. See substantial water savings – and no more mowing.

Yet many homeowners are reluctant to take out the turf; they know what the grass looks like and aren’t quite sold on alternatives. Now that Sacramento city officials have voted to ask residents and businesses to slash water use by 20 percent, however, many consumers will be pushed into action.

“This situation offers an opportunity here, ” said water-efficient landscape expert Cheryl Buckwalter, executive director of EcoLandscape California. “It’s time to actually take action and do what we’ve been talking about. If people really started these things some time ago, we’d be in a much better position today. But if you start now, we’ll be in a better position in the future.”

Landscape irrigation accounts for about 65 percent of household water use in the Sacramento area, according to local water agencies. Turf grass ranks among the thirstiest landscaping, needing 2 inches of water a week (or more) during hot summer months.

Even with cutbacks, that water use adds up quickly: A half-inch of irrigation for a typical front lawn uses as much water as about 104 showers, 52 baths or 52 loads of laundry, according to efficiency experts. Faced with rationing, do you want clean kids and clothes or green grass?

“Unless you have horses grazing in front of your house, there’s no reason to grow grass there, ” said Sacramento radio host “Farmer Fred” Hoffman.

He saw the water savings firsthand at his own 10-acre property in Herald. Hoffman removed about 2, 600 square feet of Bermuda grass and replaced it with fruit trees, blueberries and California natives. He slashed his water use for that former turf area by 88 percent.

“The sprinklers used 2 gallons a minute, ” Hoffman observed shortly after the makeover. “The drip system uses 1 gallon an hour (once a week). It’s a fraction of the water and very low maintenance.”

The blueberries don’t need to be mowed, he noted, and they’re a lot tastier than turf.

Some homeowners assume that the best drought-minded alternative to turf is concrete or other hardscape; it needs no water at all. That worries Buckwalter.