Imagine buying 38 water cooler jugs, hauling them home, and then dumping them out one by one on your lawn. Now you have a picture of how much water the average California household used every day for landscaping in 2011.
As you’re probably aware, one of the biggest issues is sprawling lawns—all that lush green grass needs a lot of water to keep from getting crispy. And now, with the California Water Commission’s new limits on turf area in lawns, maintaining a yard that is drought-friendly is more pressing than ever. That’s why we at Modernize decided to bring you some of the best xeriscaping ideas and trends we’ve seen—yards that are swapping the classic American carpet of green for some cool, drought-friendly alternatives.
The big challenge of going turf-free is to find ways to keep your lawn from looking like little more than a dirt heap. Stone is a great way to break up the monotony of a mulch-covered area—and it’s so versatile! Winding walkways, smart-looking boulders, and stone beds all add interest to a grass-less lawn. We love the idea of patterning contrasting stones for a dry riverbed look. As a bonus, gravel and stones help lock in the moisture below, which is great for the surrounding plants.
Ornamental Grasses As Shrubbery
Instead of planting thirsty deciduous shrubs, consider a row of large grasses, such as giant wild rye, a California native. Grasses at varying heights paired together are the perfect companion to a stone or cement walkway, and they only require supplemental watering in the very driest months.
Raised Rusted Metal Beds
Just because you don’t have a luscious green lawn doesn’t mean your home has to be a dusty wasteland. We love these nicely-rusted iron beds that are reminiscent of a staggered canyon wall at sunset. Can’t you just picture them crusted with Dudleyas, one of California’s native succulents?
Stairs Bordered by a Mediterranean Garden
The Italians are the kings of laid-back beauty—and their wandering gardens are the perfect marriage of formal structure (courtyards, curving stairs, and low walls), and low-maintenance plants. We love the idea of using a sprawling herb, such as creeping Thyme, which will hang gracefully over those low-slung walls.
Maybe it’s not a pocketful of posies, but there are still plenty of tough California blossoms that can thrive in an arid landscape. Thanks to showstoppers like Matijila poppies, Mimulus, and Sweet lavender, you can have a garden that’s exploding with color and still great for your water footprint.
Going green? Don’t you mean going gray? There’s a lot of water in our day-to-day lives that could get a second use. What about the gallons that drain off while you wait for your shower to heat up, or that glassful you poured for yourself but never finished? Collecting gray water means saving over these water sources for another use—and giving your plants a drink is a great way to reuse it. Your garden won’t mind if the water didn’t come straight from the tap.
We hope these ideas will give you inspiration taking your lawn from greedy water-guzzling grass to a sustainable, water-efficient wonderland. And remember to check out lawn rebate options in your area so you can get paid for your beautiful yard!