Under the new water conservation measures in Los Angeles and adjacent communities, watering lawns with sprinklers and hose pipes is only allowed on two days per week and only during a certain time window in the morning and in the evening. No more sprinklers running merrily all day long, even when it rains (yes, there were many proud lawn owners who never bothered to turn them off).
These new water codes (plus the higher costs for water) seem to have served as a wake up call to some, who seriously considered going even a step further in their efforts to create gardens and lawns needing less or no water. One way to go are gardens with local, drought tolerant plants, but such landscaping certainly does not lead to the lushly green appearance dear to so many homeowners. After having had the quintessential picture of the American Dream rammed down their collective throats for decades, they want exactly that – the house with the green lawn and the white picket fence.
To get the best of both worlds (no water consumption, but a nice green lawn), a gentleman in a city not very far from here (actually, so near that we do most of our shopping there), had a brilliant idea: he had artificial turf installed in the front yard of his newly built home. Not cheap, tacky looking stuff, mind you, but really nice fake turf, which cost him quite a few thousand dollars. Turf like that looks so real today and has so many advantages, that cities, golf clubs and private persons are installing it in parks, on golfs courses and in their gardens.
Then, however, this gentleman learned that in order to receive final approval from the local Design Review Board and adhere to required landscaping plans, he would have to replace the artificial turf with live grass, which would have required daily watering (forbidden under the City code) over quite a few weeks to take root. And if the grass died because of the water restrictions, he could be cited by code enforcement for dead landscaping in a front yard setback.
Now the turf war is on. After the initial request to rip out the offending green stuff, the homeowner has received permission to keep the illegal turf until City planners have set up an artificial turf display for residents to see samples prior to the issue returning to the dais for the City Council do deliberate.
And what about the neighbors of this gentleman? Well, they offered to sign petitions or to go to City Hall on his behalf. It seems that they are not offended – however much the Design Review Board and the City Council might wish for some expression of public outrage at this blatant attempt to… save water…while still…having a lawn…
Oh, I don’t know. My mind reels. As it always does when I encounter a perfect Catch-22.