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Droughtscapes Take Over

     The tanning of the lawns has surpassed simple tanning. Creativity reigns – no pun intended. A few lusciously green lawns sit like oases amidst their dirty tan companions during this drought that’s hit California, but then. . . Restricted water use has brought out the best in landscape lovers.

     “Give your lawn a tan!” the water districts tell us. What choice do we have? Ten minutes, two times a week watering does not a green lawn make. Unless it’s artificial. . . and artificial seems to be gaining popularity. Who wants to look at dirt? Especially in your front yard?

     But sometimes it’s not bad. In some yards, the dirt is evenly raked, free of weeds, almost a pretty brown color. If you look again, you might see a lone palm in the corner, resplendent with its topping of green fans and a circle of concrete filled with white or gold pebbles at its base. Droughtscape 101.

     Further down the street, a neatly edged lawn shows its owner’s pride. The lawn is speckled with sickly blades of barely-alive grass in a hodge-podge with dead brown blades, but the lawn is mowed, trimmed and obviously cared for, if not watered.

     Next door the mostly brown lawn with a few green Bermuda strands needs a haircut. Why bother? Can’t water anyway; might as well go out for a beer and wait for the drought to end. Maybe go fishing, if there’s any water left in the reservoir.

     The mulch and landscape rock dealers are doing a booming business. Concrete, too. One guy around the corner cemented his whole yard, planted a pretty purple plum tree in the middle, encircled it with one of those scalloped concrete borders and surrounded it all with a shiny white picket fence and added a white arbor. Looks great!

     In outlying areas on country acreages, creative rock designs combine with red bark or pebbles, garden statues or recirculating fountains and a few well-tended plants to make their drought-cooperative statements. Makes you wonder why we were all so fascinated with plain Jane green lawns for so long. Except they are pretty, especially in the midst of all the dirt, rock, concrete, and half-dead grass.

     Our backyard is a concrete deck with low-water plants growing against the fence behind it. The front yard is green with low-growing rosemary, a few bushes, a desert museum tree and boulders scattered throughout. The boulders don’t need much watering. The plants are on a drip system.

     I haven’t been able to find the drought rules for drip systems—only that the rules for sprinklers— water for ten minutes, two times a week—don’t apply. I looked on the water district’s website, but there was nothing there. I’m doing the best I can to keep the plants alive without much water and sending best wishes to all of you who are trying to get through this hot weather, humidity, and lack of rain. Just remember, dirt is good, requires no watering and is—well, dirt cheap.

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