Riverside Realtor Blog - Alma Dizon

Alma shares her experiences and observations as a Realtor in Riverside California.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Just how thirsty is your lawn?

It should come to no surprise that the biggest use of water in the California is to keep our lawns green. But just how much water we're spraying out there might surprise you. It turns out that the average daily use for yards and gardens statewide is 185 gallons. Doubtless, if we had to haul that water from a well, most of us would settle for hard-packed dirt, and only the extremely wealthy would have that lush, green look. But water has been cheap, and so the desert has been settled with scores of tract homes, all vying for that illusion of living in a rainy area.

But you don't have to settle for dust and prickly pear. There are many lovely low-water plants that you can cover the front lawn with. Most people don't actually play football on the green expanses in front of their homes. A wide variety of plants, both native and imported from other dry climates, can provide plenty of coverage and color while attracting hummingbirds and butterflies. I find these plants much easier to maintain than a lawn (ours is mostly in back, where the dogs get to enjoy it, and it looks truly pathetic). Sure, have some grass if someone actually runs around on it, and you can plant trees strategically to provide shade for some lawn. But according to a survey, the biggest reason for lawns is appearance, and that's a sad reason to be using up water during a drought.

According to the Western Municipal Water District, the annual rainfall necessary to sustain various plants is as follows:
Grass: 45.1 inches
Medium water-use plants: 33.8 inches
Low water-use plants: 16.9 inches
California native plants: 11.3 inches

In an average year (which we haven't had for a while), Riverside gets about 10 inches of rain. So even a yard of only native plants would need extra water. From 7/1/05 to 6/30/06, the total rainfall in Jurupa Hills was a little over 7 inches. Think about that versus the 45 or so inches you sprinkled onto that grass.

PE article on watering

County Records News data on rainfall in Western Riverside

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