Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Drought solutions

Future flagstone patio!

As I am writing this, there is the whine of a tractor in the back yard as the landscape guys scrape off several hundred square feet of dead lawn in preparation for a flagstone patio and fire pit that will go in its place. All over the western US, people are starting to do the same thing as we are -- come up with backyard alternatives to the water-sucking lawns we no longer have enough water for.

There are lots of alternatives to grass, depending on one's budget. The flagstone patio, gravel fire pit and wood bark with a few drought-tolerant plants scattered around is pretty medium-cost. Decking is about three times as much. Artificial grass is yet another popular alternative. Leaving dead grass or dirt to just sit there costs nothing, of course, except for aesthetics and resale value. 

Future fire pit (mmmm, s'mores!)

But whatever your constraints, there is something everyone can do to lessen the drought, and killing the lawn is by far the easiest.

What we can't do is keep on watering as we have been over the last 50 years. In the last month or so I've been both to Los Angeles and Fresno, both of which are still extremely green in comparison to the county I live in. On the one hand, that's a positive because it means people here in my home county really do understand that life has to change, and are willing to do what it takes to change it. I'm proud of myself, and my friends and neighbors for that. 

On the other hand, it also means that cities with hundreds of thousands (millions for LA) of people are still not getting the message, and living life as usual. Ugh.

On another homesteading blog I read frequently, a Los Angeles couple stressed the importance of keeping trees watered in the area because trees provide shade and are beautiful. But if the trees are not native to the area, watering them is just kicking the rock down the road a little more. We need to deal with the ridiculous things we've planted in the name of them being beautiful and realize there are a lot of beautiful things we don't have here: Fireflies. Ponds. Snow. And you know what? We are OK without them. They don't belong here, but there are many, many other beautiful things that do belong here, in our dry Mediterranean climate. We're not starved for beauty by any means.

And so, here in SLO County, the waiting list for landscapers to come and do lawn removal and backyard renovation is long, as people get in on the act and start to live a different life than what their parents did. 

As for us, I'm exciting about having a new entertaining space, and although I will miss the cool green grass outside the back windows, let's face it -- it really never belonged here in the first place.


  1. Sort of like Tuscan architecture doesn't belong here! This is such a hard thing for you all to face. I give you a lot of credit for taking responsibility of your part. And what good news that your neighbors fall in line as well. There is a country club here with a "Tuscan theme" called Corazon. it looks tacky in the summer and truly hideous in the winter. no one gets it all! Can't wait to see the new patio! What an exciting addition to have this coming fall and winter!

    1. Oh, I can SO see a Tuscan clubhouse covered in snow lol! You are right, there are so many styles of architecture that "go" with the area you live in. We can't do Courier and Ives here, but the Tuscan place would be right at home. And we are definitely looking forward to enjoying time outdoors in our new area...last Thanksgiving was mild so I'm hoping for a repeat and Thanksgiving dinner al fresco!