As you’ve probably heard by now, California is in the midst of one of its most historic droughts. With Governor Jerry Brown ordering mandatory water restrictions for the first time in the state’s history – it’s nearly impossible to keep a lawn green. So, is brown the new green? For those of you who aren’t ready to give up your field of green, check out these grass substitute options.
Many California homeowners have turned to artificial grass to get the look of a lush lawn with very little maintenance and no water. Artificial turf/grass is a surface of synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. While the initial cost to install is high, supporters claim that the upkeep is much less expensive. Artificial grass requires no mowing or irrigation. It’s also pesticide free and doesn’t require chemical treatment or fertilizers. But be careful. Once you choose artificial turf, you are committed. When plastic replaces natural grass, it kills any living organism in the subsoil making it very difficult to grow anything on that surface. So, when it’s time to replace the turf, you will likely need to replace it with more of the same. Life span estimates vary, but synthetic turn is generally expected to last about 10+ years.
If you don’t like the idea of artificial grass and prefer something more natural, try xeriscaping. In xeriscaping, which means “dry landscaping,” homeowners replace thirsty grass with drought-tolerant native plants like wildflowers and succulents. This form of landscaping requires little to no water, uses long-lasting materials and endures all elements – including heavy rain – should it ever appear again! Just like artificial turf, the maintenance is minimal. By using plants native to your area, you will eliminate the need for chemical supplements while also offering a familiar habitat for local wildlife.
Spray Painted Lawns
Yes, that’s right – spray painted lawns. It sounds like a Hollywood movie trick but in drought-stricken states, like California, the popularity of spray painted lawns has shot up. Companies who specialize in this service claim a painted lawn is much cheaper than other options. It can cost thousands of dollars to re-landscape a lawn with drought-friendly plant material, compared to about 25 cents a square foot to paint. This option allows you to keep your lawn and give it a fresher look at a much lower price than artificial turf or xeriscaping. Most importantly, companies use an all-natural dye that is not harmful to people or pets.
What do you think? Is brown really the new green? Or have you found ways to cope with drought conditions and still keep your yard green?