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Out with the green: US homeowners are making their gardens drought-resistant

Water-resistant organic gardens are increasingly being seen, replacing the lush green lawns famous in suburban America

Published: Aug 17, 2022 11:36:55 AM IST
Updated: Aug 17, 2022 12:08:11 PM IST

Out with the green: US homeowners are making their gardens drought-resistantInspiration videos for creating a drought-resistant garden are on the rise. Inspiration videos for creating a drought-resistant garden are on the rise. Image: Studio Petrichor / Instagram

In response to the drought affecting California and other states, many property owners are transforming their green spaces. Water-resistant organic gardens are increasingly being seen, replacing the lush green lawns famous in suburban America.

Gardens in California and other states are evolving, as individuals attempt to cope with the recurring droughts that have plagued the region for several years. Back in June California officials asked residents to limit outdoor water use, an unprecedented measure in a region where lush green lawns are often refreshed with water daily.

This initiative played a role in helping reduce water consumption by 11% in  the state in July 2022.

Covering lawns

While early solutions to the lawn issue looked to some ecologically questionable alternatives, such as synthetic lawns and grass paint, some homeowners are choosing to ethically transform their front yards. Rather than maintaining a yard exclusively featuring grass, they are tearing out or partially covering portions of the lawn and creating new drought-resistant segments. Some gardens are even designed on the principle of mound cultivation.

Specifically, residents are covering the ground with tarps to prevent grass from growing back into new plantings. Even cardboard can be used, Shawn Maestretti, founder of ethical landscape design firm Studio Petrichor, told KQED.

Depending on their preferences and how they plan to use these outdoor spaces,  some camouflage the cover with stones, others with mulch (straw, wood chips, pine bark, etc.) to preserve soil moisture.

A multitude of ideas inspired by the web

Homeowners are now also planting drought-resistant plants—another key change for California residents sensitive to the region's lack of water.

It is also not uncommon to see different kinds of cacti or succulents growing in front of homes or in backyards. Specialized websites, such as Calscape, indicate which plants are local to California. The site lists more than 7,988 plants.

Also read: What are water squares and how can they help prevent urban flooding?

Over on YouTube, tutorials and inspirational videos about these drought-resistant landscapes are plentiful as well. In 2020, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California promoted its lawn replacement program with a resilient garden in a testimonial video.

"The Turf Replacement Program takes a multi-pronged approach to maximize water utilization and conservation. Removing turf grass is one of the most water conscious adjustments a homeowner can make to reduce their water usage and associated costs," outlines the Turf Replacement Program page of SoCal WaterSmart.

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