In 2014, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a drought state of emergency and asked the state to cutback water use by 20%. We failed in every month except December, because it was the only month that had decent rainfall.
On April 1, 2015, after the lowest snowpack on record, Governor Brown directed the first ever statewide mandatory water reduction.
Take a look at the foreboding before and after aerial photos of some of California’s largest reservoirs at the California drought update website: http://ca.gov/drought/
Now think fast and decide what you want to cut back on: showering, flushing or watering your grass. Seems like a no-brainer for anyone with a sense of smell, but it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks when it comes to green lawns. Even if it means empty reservoirs and fallow farm lands.
Here’s a relatively small way you can use less water outside: overhaul your parkway. It’s the patch of land between your sidewalk and the curb. It’s not overwhelming. And it might inspire you to take on bigger conservation projects in the future.
Ixnay the parkway: run-off
FACT: Water flows downhill.
QUESTION: If your parkway grass is higher than the adjacent sidewalk and curb, what is being watered by your sprinklers?
If I had a nickel for every parkway in Hancock Park, Larchmont and Windsor Square where sprinkler water is running into the street, I could afford to live in… well, I’d still live here—but the point is: water seeks the lowest point.
That fresh, rare and salt-free water pooling on sidewalks and racing down curbs into storm drains and heading to the, gulp, Pacific Ocean is wasteful… to put it mildly. Dig out and haul away the top layer of the parkway until it is slightly below sidewalk height. Now, irrigation or rainwater can go into the soil not the sea.
Ixnay the parkway: grass
As long as you are removing the higher ground, why not take out the grass, too? Replace it with one of 14 official drought tolerant turf substitutes that needs water every 1-2 weeks and not every 1-2 days (yes, that means you, fescue/Marathon/worse-grass-ever-in-a-drought!).
Here’s the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Services online guide that includes the drought tolerant substitutes:
Ixnay the parkway: mow
As a sommelier suggests the appropriate wine pairing for your culinary delight, might I suggest the dymondia for your California drought?
This stuff is fantastic. It feels good to walk on with bare feet. Requires ZERO mowing. Needs shockingly little water. And it’s ability to take stress and fill-in dead areas is remarkable.
Last fall, a film crew up the street decided to wander down Rimpau Boulevard and dump some liquid crap (aka Pepsi) on my newly planted parkway. The dymondia seemed to grow back before I could phone 1(800)HBO-GO AWAY. Maybe they should call it no-die-mondia.
Mandatory water conservation
It’s not about being eco-friendly anymore and it’s no longer voluntary. It’s a sobering four-year fact that California doesn’t have enough water to go around.
Whatever you do, conserve. Don’t be like one of those characters from the movie A Cinderella Story who said “Droughts are for poor people.” Totally gross.
By Renee Ridgeley