In April, we stopped watering our small front lawn, and now the results are in: Over the past six months we reduced our water consumption, year over year, by more than a third – 4,000 gallons of water saved each and every month.
Meanwhile, a funny thing happened this past week: It rained, and the lawn that wouldn’t die turned green again. I wouldn’t say it is pristine – there are still bald patches – but at a distance, you can hardly tell the difference.
This is not a long-term solution – green, then brown, then green again. Before next summer, we will likely replace the lawn with landscaping that uses less water.
But the experiment confirms that when it comes to water conservation, people do have options.
Once upon a time, people moved to California to escape places with cool, wet weather year-round – and then adopted a landscaping style borrowed from places with cool, wet weather year-round.
That was OK when water was cheap, but going forward, it won’t be.
To protect endangered fish, the federal government will continue to impose limits on water flows in the Russian River and its tributaries. Climate change will provide new incentives for reducing the energy costs associated with moving water from one location to another. And then there is the D-word: drought.
Californians who want to maintain their verdant lawns and English gardens through the long, dry summer will get used to spending a lot of green on their monthly water bills. Or they will seek a landscaping style that respects the natural surroundings.