Droughts and No Water, Oh My! Let’s Change Our Landscape Together

When some of us are asked to reimagine our landscape with drought resistant plants, an unappealing vision of dirt, rocks, too many cacti and succulents, often comes to mind. But your landscape does not have to be composed solely of cacti and succulents. Southern California is fortunate that a broad range of plants thrive here – including native plants and those we can borrow from similar climates around the globe. There are beautiful and colorful Southern-California-friendly plants that can amp up any landscape, reduce maintenance needs, and the best part…they do not need that much water to survive!  

Why is it important to reimagine your landscape?  

It is no secret that water is a daily essential. The United States Environmental Protection Agency reports that American families waste approximately 50% of water due to inefficient irrigation systems and outdoor watering. Grass lawns, in particular, require copious amounts of water, so no matter how much conservation might happen indoors, homes with lush lawns still require a lot of water. Big or little, switching your landscape is the first step in the right direction. Droughts are a regional reality, so now might be the time to make the change from grass to a garden landscape. 

In addition to the water savings, you’ll also be reducing the amount of time you’ll have to spend maintaining your yard, and just think of the shades of potential: purple California fuchsia, yellow palo verde, the pink native milkweed, sages of all shapes and sizes, and so many more plant varieties that can add color to your yard. Another bonus? These plants are enjoyed by hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other beneficial creatures. By replacing your lawn with more drought resistant plants, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California Be Water Wise Program calculates that you can save almost 20,000-24,000 gallons of water each year.  

How can I get help on lawn replacement?  

A variety of water agencies offer residential incentives for those who choose to reimagine their landscaping. The Santa Ana Water Project Authority developed the Water-Energy Community Action Network (WE CAN) program to assist Southern Californians adjust to climate change and  mitigate their carbon emissions. The WE CAN program specifically focuses on supporting low-income communities who are working to save their water and energy. Currently, the WE CAN program is accepting applications from residents in the City of Riverside, located in the Eastside neighborhood, who are eligible and wish to have a free lawn replacement. For more information and to see if you’re eligible, visit the Santa Ana Water Project Authority website.  

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California also supports residents through their turf replacement program and the Be Water Wise Program. The turf replacement program is a two-step application system that requires three drought resistant plants for every 100 square feet of lawn replaced, a stormwater retention feature to house water after a rainfall, permeable hardscapes to filter water before it enters the groundwater, and upgrades to efficient drip irrigation systems. The Be Water Wise Program also offers the perfect guide to get you started on reimaging your new sustainable landscape which you can view here. If you live in San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District’s service area, which is just outside of the Metropolitan Service Area in the Inland Empire, visit their website to review a step-by-step guide outlining ways to revamp your yard. You’ll be saving time, money, water and the environment, so get started today!

Our water is a precious, yet scarce resource. If we make lasting changes now, we’ll be in a better position for reliable water services later – in wet and dry years. Together, we can make a difference in our water resource and each drop matters by using less and saving more.  

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