Saturday, September 3, 2011


With Stage 2 water restrictions looming, I have been contemplating what to water and what not to water. I have also been thinking about getting rid of more grass. The problem is that it's quite possible that replacing grass that I don't water with plants, which, while requiring little water, will still require more water than the grass that I don't water. Normally I'd just start asking people how much water they use in their yards, but 1) everyone has different rates and points where the cost goes up depending on where you live, 2) people have different sized yards, 3) people have different plants that they'll let go (dormant or die) in the heat of summer, and 4) peoples' household use of water differ drastically.

I have some idea of how much my inlaws spend on water only because my MIL is always concerned with how much they're spending compared to others (we, on average, spend about $40, though this last month's bill - which included me watering all flowering plants every day for 2 weeks leading up to my go-go- was $50 or about 6000 gallons). The inlaws also have an automatic sprinkler system, the idea that grass must always be green, a larger turf area, and a home owners association that is perceived to be very strict about plants and lawn and hell, everything (we have an HOA too, but they complain about things such as 'the grass is too tall' versus 'your grass is brown').

Of course we were (until about 4 weeks ago) also watering our lawn which was only a lesson in futility since the backyard went dormant and then subsequently died. We didn't really start watering the lawn until the middle of June and even then it was half-heartedly and with the goal of not keeping it green, but with making sure the roots didn't die. We then went through a phase where neither of us remembered to water on our watering day and I don't want to stand out there for an hour with a hose. I can deep water the tree in the back and the grass does not come back. Compare this to the front yard where I will deep water the trees and we end up with a 2' x 2' patch where the grass is verdant and 6" tall. Thus my theory is that the grass in the back is Dead.

As I'm not a big fan of lawn, I am always trying to come up with schemes to get rid of more turf. But of course the problem is that OTHER people like turf and if we ever want to sell this house we're going to likely have to have SOME grass area. Which means that I would prefer something like Buffalo, but that's what my inlaws have and they hate it. I'd go with a prairie mix, but I'm guessing most people don't want to let their lawn get 6" tall or taller. I'd plant low water/maintenance plants, but we're back to the whole thing of even low water plants require some water, so the question is, does having a (mostly) dead lawn which I occasionally water end up being cheaper than plants that require little water? The answer is likely yes, but again, people don't want dead lawn when they purchase a house, they want live lawn...which means we're back to square one.

Good thing we're not planning on selling for the next couple of years...

1 comment:

Tim said...

Nice to hear I'm not the only one who spends way too much time thinking about this. I have some massive chunks of St. Augustine that are very well established and have been well taken care of and that don't require much water. So ripping them out doesn't seem wise from a water usage perspective. Then I have spots like you that are pretty much dead. And grass is a CO2 sink so it's better than just putting down gravel.
I have no clue what to do...