The water crisis facing California is serious and carries imminent environmental, financial and human impacts. Cash incentives are being used in some areas to get homeowners to voluntarily give up their lawns. Before ripping out a lawn or making drastic changes to your landscape, the experts at the National Association of Landscape Professionals advise on the top seven things to consider.
Tip #1: Evaluate what you have. Look at the landscape you have now. Some elements in your landscape may already be drought-friendly, but you may need to change others. Calculate how much water you are using now and how frequently you are watering.
Tip #2: Consider the environmental and human impacts. Lawns and landscapes offer benefits that mitigate drought impacts. Grass cools the air around a home or building, reduces pollution, limits heat islands, suppresses dust, controls soil erosion and sequesters carbon.
Grass also assists in decomposing pollutants, dissipates heat, lowers allergy-related problems, reduces home cooling costs and acts as a fire barrier. Importantly, grass serves as a natural filter to potable water supplies, reducing stormwater runoff and capturing and filtering precipitation.
Tip #3: Educate yourself about how lawns and turfgrass respond during a drought. Most people overwater their lawns and assume that if grass is not green, it may be dying. Grass actually goes into a dormant state during a drought. It may look brown, but it’s not dead. If the crowns and root system are intact and have adequate moisture, grass can sustain itself.
Tip #4: Think about how you intend to use your lawn or landscape moving forward. Do you enjoy backyard barbecues with friends and family? Is your yard a restful oasis from stress? Or a place for pets and children to romp and run? For employers, a landscape may be a gathering place for employees at break time or a welcoming visual for guests. Consider how you want to use your yard or landscape going forward to ensure that your re-designed landscape meets your needs.
Tip #5: Seek the advice of lawn and landscape professionals. Getting professional landscape advice has never been more important than now. With a variety of different rules and restrictions at the state and local level, it is important to make sure you are making changes that are in line with the regulations.
A Landscape Industry Certified professional implements best practices, applies up-to-date information, and has a thorough understanding of land stewardship. Landscape professionals are knowledgeable about drought-friendly landscaping. Many landscape companies have water management specialists, as well as professionals educated in sustainable landscape practices.
Tip #6: Install drought-friendly landscaping and change your watering practices. There are many drought-friendly landscaping options available, such as drought tolerant low-water native plants. For instance, planting with hydrozones and installing drip irrigation can minimize water usage. There are many ways to make a landscape drought-friendly, enjoyable and useful.
Tip #7: Determine a plan for going forward. Design your landscape so it can be sustainably maintained, and still be enjoyed and used in the days and months ahead as water restrictions are put in place.