Climate Change Conscious Design

Turfgrass and Drinking Water Waste in the United States / EPA Research Report on Turfgrass Allowance

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Convert to Grass-Free Landscape with Landida™ - Smart Landscapes

Turfgrass and Drinking Water Waste in the United States / EPA Research Report on Turfgrass Allowance

On average, single-family homes in this country use 30 percent of their household water outdoors; however, in many areas of the country, outdoor water use ranges from 50 to 70 percent. For example, 60 percent of residential water is used outdoors in Phoenix, Arizona,4 and 70 percent of residential water is used outdoors in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Examining outdoor water use and finding ways to be more efficient is important because our demand as a nation is growing faster than our water resources can manage. Between 1950 and 2000, the U.S. population increased nearly 90 percent, while the amount of water used from the public supply increased by 208 percent. For example, in 1965, average daily water use in Georgia was 50 gallons per person. In 2000, the per capita use had risen to approximately 200 gallons per day, a large portion of which was used outdoors. Once considered a problem only in desert regions, water supply issues have become more common nationwide in less drought-prone regions such as Georgia and the Northeast. Even under non-drought conditions, at least 36 states have predicted water shortages by 2013. Not only does outdoor water use comprise a significant portion of residential use, it stresses existing water supplies by contributing to peak demand during summer months. During these hot, dry times, utilities must increase capacity to meet residential landscape irrigation requirements, sometimes as much as three to four times the amount used during winter months. For example, rain rarely falls in Austin, Texas, during July and August; as a result, the city’s overall water use increases by nearly 100 percent compared to winter use. Even in temperate regions of the country, peak demand occurs during spring and summer months. A study in a region east of the Mississippi River demonstrated that water use increased by one third during the spring to fall growing season.

Research suggests that turfgrass receives the highest percentage of the residential irrigation water in traditional landscaping. Several studies indicate that commonly used varieties of turfgrass require more water than many commonly used landscape plants. In addition, homeowners tend to overwater turfgrass. As a result, landscapes with large expanses of turfgrass generally use more water than those planted with a mixture of other plants such as groundcover, shrubs, and trees.

Many research studies show that turfgrass-dominated landscapes, typical of residential yards in the United States, use more water than those with a mix of regionally appropriate plants such as groundcover, shrubs, and trees. While many of these studies were conducted in the western United States due to the serious water supply issues facing those regions, water savings from switching to regionally appropriate landscapes are still expected elsewhere in the country. In Marin, California, a study of 548 dwelling units found a strong correlation between the perimeter of turf and water use. Researchers developed a multiple regression model of water applied to the landscape compared to the turf perimeter, turf area, and total landscape area. Results showed a very strong correlation (R2 = 0.91), with turf perimeter identified as the dominant independent variable. When comparing turf-dominated landscapes to those dominated by the water-conserving tree, plant, and shrub varieties, the researchers found that the turf-dominated landscapes used 54 percent more water than the mixed landscapes.

Environment Conservation

The American Dream sans Green Turf Grass Lawn

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Climate Change Conscious Landscapes by Landia™

by Maxwell Alexander, CEO & Founder, Landida™ Smart Landscapes

A luscious green lawn used to be a source of pride and a symbol of achieving the American Dream, well, at least for Babyboomers. They loved sugary drinks with artificial colors and flavors and dumped millions of tons of pesticides in their front yard to keep the grass greener on their side of the road, and neighbors jealous across the street.

Good news for the Planet: the new generation of homeowners is in town! Millennials are way more eco-conscious, know that climate change is an actual thing, they prefer being healthy and cannot stand pesticides or artificial flavors and colors in their food. Millennials are moving out of cities and taking over the suburbs and America’s landscape is changing as we speak… Literally!

While green turf grass is, unfortunately, still the most common lawn option, many homeowners in the United States and all around the World are drawn to the appeal of maintenance-free rock lawns. These gravel-based ground coverings are ideal for regions that are under watering restrictions due to drought (which is basically the entire Planet earth), or for homeowners who are just tired of constant mowing and inhaling pesticides/herbicides that come with their grass lawn. The installation process is similar to installing mulch or rock in a flower bed but encompasses the entire lawn instead. A rock lawn requires almost no ongoing maintenance and actually draws attention to the low-maintenance, evergreen shrubs and trees. In addition, Landida™ Smart Landscapes Rock Lawns look equally good in the winter as they do in the summer.

Landida™ Smart Landscapes Rock Lawn Benefits

Eliminating the grass from a lawn may seem like a drastic move, but it actually has many time saving and eco-friendly benefits.

  • Reduces the amount of time required to mow, water and fertilize the grass.
  • Conserves water by eliminating the need to water the lawn.
  • Reduces or completely eliminates pesticides applied to the lawn.
  • Reduces the amount of yard waste, such as grass, leaves and pine needles, that is sent to the landfill.

Some cities located in drought-prone areas of the Southwest even provide tax breaks for homeowners who replace their lawn with rock or gravel. This incentive strives to conserve as much water as possible for human consumption.