Californians have a love affair with lawns. We put grass everywhere-often in places that just do not make any sense-long narrow green strips of lawn on busy streets, under trees in parking lots where no one ever sits, and in the front of our homes where we would never let or kids or dogs play. We over/under fertilize, kill all the bugs, battle fungus and weeds all year. Most of the time we treat our lawn like we hate it-we don’t aerate it enough, it lives with a huge layer of thatch, and we pour lots of water on it and we want them to be green all the time. If we took a clue from nature, we would realize that lawns are meant to be brown in the summer when it is hot and lush and green when we have our seasonal rains.
California is entering its fourth year of drought-there I said the “D” word. We all have lots of opinions on our water and how we should conserve it, who gets use it, who wastes it, and how to preserve it. Never have we had so many angry, confused, and disgusted Californians over something we all take for granted. Water is our most precious resource-over the past few years at the nursery, we have spent a lot of time talking to you all about ways to save water, how to water effectively, what plants will make it through the drought. I am proud of you all-I feel like the vast majority of our customers are doing their best to conserve-it is frustrating for us all when we see water wasters and sprinklers on in the rain.
As we entered 2014, the water situation was looking pretty bad. I had most of my yard on drip but I still had three lawns. I gave up the front lawn that was very steep and my full sun lawn, and decided to keep the afternoon shade lawn. We used it and my 4 old dogs spent their days sleeping on it. I aerate twice a year, apply compost, mulch mow, and let them get pretty ugly all summer. My neighbors weren’t quite sure what to think. The PC neighbors applauded my brown lawns, the “never do any of your own yard work” neighbors thought I was nuts-after all I own a nursery and a dead lawn was not the best reflection on my gardening skills. I kept them mowed down and assured my neighbors that the lawns would green up once we got our fall/winter rains. Surprisingly my lawns did come back when we got a little rain….then the rain stopped and our drought got worse. Our water allotment got smaller and there was no way to save another drop-something had to go!
I decided to embrace the drought and be lawn free. The decision was easy….however, we are having our daughter’s wedding at our home this June and I could not have a huge dead lawn as the first thing you see onthis awesome day. So we made the decision to remove the entire front lawn, put the dance floor on the sunny dead lawn, and just keep the shady “wedding “ lawn alive until the big day. This was not easy task-our dirt is full of huge cobble stones, it is hard clay, and it had lawn on it for 25 years. Chris and my son, Dallas to the rescue! We had to kill off what was left of the lawn with Grass-Getter, we hired a bobcat to rip the dirt and make it a little easier to plant, I am a sprinkler diva-so I converted the sprinklers to drip. On the hottest day in May-we planted 140 low water plants and ground cover. Chris did an amazing job making my existing planting blend with the new plants. It is all watered with half gallon drippers and we finished it off with yards of shredded redwood from the wonderful Acer Landscape Materials next door to us.
I am not “anti lawn”, there are many good reasons to have lawn, but in times of drought something has to go. Trees and shrubs are expensive, grass seed is cheap! If you only go on your lawn to mow it-then maybe it is time to give it up. My sunny dead dance floor lawn will be my new veggie garden next Spring. We are here to help-if going brown is something you are wanting to do-let us help you. Maybe if we all give up our water thirsty lawns the drought will end and Mother Nature will smile upon us.
El Dorado Nursery & Garden, Inc.
530 676 6555