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How to Transform Your Lawn Into Drought Tolerant Landscaping

Angelenos are struggling to keep their lawns green in the midst of yet another historic drought, with water use mandates becoming more and more strict.

Transforming your yard into drought tolerant landscaping involves ripping out the existing grass lawn and replacing it with gravel or crushed granite, along with adding native elements that don’t need much water to survive, like succulents. The plants are usually watered with a simple drip irrigation system running under the gravel, using as little water as possible to keep the plants healthy. So little water is used, in fact, the savings could add up.

“You’ll save anywhere from hundreds to honestly thousands of dollars on water a year,” Cody Simpson, the Chief Landscape Consultant at Droughtscape, a Glendale-based landscaping company told the I-Team.

Simpson says now is the best time to undergo a lawn transformation, especially in Southern California where temperatures are high, prices are rising and water is scarce

First-time homeowners and Droughtscape customers Jeff and Amanda Boone wanted to upgrade their lawn while simultaneously helping the environment. They decided drought-tolerant landscaping was the way to go.

“I grew up with grass everywhere,” Amanda said. “But in California, it just didn’t really seem economical or responsible to have that sort of landscaping here.” 

She’s right. Los Angeles is in the middle of yet another historic drought, with city mandates limiting water usage to just a couple of days a week, or not at all while temporary repair work progresses.

If you’re considering making the switch from grass to native plants, keep in mind a full yard transformation can be pricey. The Boones saved for more than a year and say they spent more than $20,000 on their front yard transformation.

However, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LAWDP) is trying to address that upfront cost for homeowners.  The utility is offering rebates of up to $15,000 for homeowners who switch out all or part of their grass to reduce water usage.

While rehauling a whole lawn may sound like a headache to some, Jeff Boone called the whole process “straightforward.”

“I say absolutely do it. You get to save money, you save time. You really set it and forget it,” he said.  

As for those without a green thumb, Simpson says they need not worry about accidentally killing their new plants. 

“It’s insanely durable,” he said. “Most of these plants you can kind of kick and stomp and they’ll honestly come shooting back up.” 

The Boones put in their new lawn six months ago, and are already seeing growth.

“I love looking out the front window in the mornings,” Jeff told the I-Team. “It’s a lot of fun to kind of see it bloom and the flowers that come in.”

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