Bay Area homeowners ditch cherished lawns over water concerns

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Many people around the Bay Area who own a home with a lawn are giving up their green yards due to California's dire water situation.

We are all probably going to have to do more to conserve in the next few months, but some are already taking a dramatic step by getting rid of something that most homeowners cherish.

East Bay Nursery in Berkeley says a lot of people are digging up their yards and creating succulent gardens. Many succulents are native to Africa and Mexico, they have thick leaves to store nutrients and they don't need much water.

"Think just one lawn at a time and we'll be able to save water in California," Castro Valley resident Larry Torres said.

Torres' yard stands out among the traditional grass yards in his neighborhood and that's just fine with him.

"The mulch itself is a good three-inch layer. It's all premium tree cuttings and then under that, you're going to have about two inches of this 100 percent food scrap compost," Torres said.

Amid emergency legislation for California drought relief, Torres sheet mulched his yard. He converted 800 square feet for under $1,000 and even got almost $400 in rebates from East Bay MUD.

"For the benefit of the visual and a drought resistant plant, a succulent is definitely the way to go," said Torres.

VIDEO: South Bay officials push to expand recycled water plan


Since the drought began, East Bay Nursery says it has tripled the amount of store space dedicated to succulents.

"Some of them only require water once a month to keep them happy and flowering," East Bay Nursery employee Mike Davis says.

"My next step is trying to cut down on watering my grass," Torres' neighbor, Daniel Mai, said.

The drought-resistant yard seems to be changing attitudes.

"We've already confirmed two or three other people on my street that are going to convert their lawn to a sheet mulch garden," Torres said.

Eventually he believes his yard will be the new norm.

Drought tips

One of the easiest ways to reduce water use is to simply turn off the faucet while you brush your teeth. Doing so will save two gallons per minute. Also, each minute you cut from your shower saves 2.5 gallons. And if you install aerators on all your bathroom and kitchen faucets, you'll reduce household water usage by about four percent.


For full coverage on the drought, click here.
Related Topics:
politicsdroughtweatherwaterwater conservationcalifornia waterconservationjerry browncalifornia legislationlegislationcongressbudgetcalifornia state senatefarmingagriculturehomeownerscaliforniaBerkeleyCastro ValleySan MateoSan JoseSan FranciscoMarin
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