Lush, Beautiful and Low-Water Use Landscaping IS a Reality

I live in Los Angeles where the sun is abundant but the rain, not so much. Or actually, we do get rain it’s just not spread out of the year and it’s not predictable. One of the best ways to conserve our precious water is to cultivate a garden that doesn’t use a lot. The EPA estimates that 50% of residents potable water is used outdoors. In Los Angeles they say it might be as high as 70%. The EPA also estimates that as much as 50% could be conserved with better planning.

In Los Angeles we are starting to see a real change in how people landscape around their homes, and by and large I’m very excited about this change. However, I’m very concerned about the lack of plantings that I’ve seen in some of the lawn remodels, and also concerned about the overuse of synthetic grass. The iconic landscape designer Mia Lehrer recently co-authored an OP-ED in the Los Angeles Times titled “Don’t Gravelscape LA” that echoes a lot of my concerns.

Below I wanted to illustrate some examples of grass-free landscaping that suits a variety of styles of home: from Asian in the top right, to modern in the bottom right, to traditional in the bottom left. None of these homes has grass (real or synthetic), nor are they overly dependent on gravel. As someone who was trained in sustainable-design (I am a LEED AP and I practiced landscape and interior design for many years), I want to point out that IT IS POSSIBLE to have a LUSH, beautiful and colorful yard, without using a lot of water. My home uses less than 50% of the water of the average home in LA, and that is with a lush, verdant frontyard (I even still have a small patch of grass!) AND a large pool.  It IS possible.  Check out these beautiful examples of low-water use yards and a parkway.