Looking to Kill Your Lawn?

Posted by Woodrow Aames ~ August 16, 2010

Most likely, you're not. Typically, I prefer to write about the need for testing your soil pH, amending the chemicals, aerating your lawn, and mowing just the right height to avoid having to use pre- and post-emergent weed killers. But here in the Sacramento area where I reside, we're in the midst of another hot summer and lawns all around are tending toward brown...or dead.

The local weekly, The News and Review, called on owners to do a gut check on whether it's worth the water waste and trouble to keep their lawns green in this relentless summer heat. A reporter drove around (wasting gasoline) to see if most green lawns had kids on them after school. When I was young, that's where you went in the summer to run through the sprinklers and keep cool.

No such luck across the greater Sacramento area. Empty lawns everywhere, with little rainbows where the sprinklers had come on, and not a soul to be found. "Lawn grass," the newspaper reported, "is America's largest irrigated crop." Of the 25,000 gallons of water per year dumped on Sacramento lawns, a third goes into the air or down the street into the drain.

No Lawn? No Way!

Even where lawns are heavily spotted, Sacramento denizens keep the water flowing. This year, the California State Fair (hosted in Sacramento) gave locals a look at some options to growing grass. In this Mediterranean, Central Valley climate, fair exhibitors said, you can grow succulents, varieties of grasses that require little water, daisies, Russian sage, and black-eyed Susans. And you won't need to fire up the fuel-intensive lawn mowers and weed trimmers every week or so.

Earth Easy reports that using up fuel is not the only issue with lawns. There's mower exhaust sent into the already hazy sky and pesticides and fertilizers flushed into the local water supply.

You can reduce your lawn size with pavers and put in a flowerbed or two to reduce the size and extent of mowing and watering. Choose low-maintenance ornamental grasses, varieties that seldom need much fertilizing or watering. Oddly enough for Sacramento residents, ornamental grasses adore hot, sunny locales.

Sure, they're positively not the lush green lawns that kids love to slip and slide across when then sprinklers are going. But kids today are more interested in spending hot summer days inside, texting their friends, or in the backyard, splashing in the pool.

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