Grass be gone #5

Q: What do you get when you convert lawn to waterwise plants?

A: Dramatic cuts in consumption and maintenance coupled with surprisingly better aesthetics and functionality.

This revelation proved true in long-term studies such as the City of Santa Monica’s garden\garden. And it proved true in our 4 projects chronicled in earlier Grass Be Gone posts that removed 9,300 square feet of lawn. With only 700 square feet left in 3 narrow strips by the house, I thought we were done.

Then 4 months ago, I shrunk the strip shown in BEFORE photos below. My motivation was to soften and better integrate the 10-13′ by 30′ lawn between the pool and stone wall. The tapered green swath felt off-balance, and the wall with a steep slope and another wall above looked severe.


AFTER photos below show that even small lawn conversions boost function, beauty, and conservation. Highlights are a stone bench set in the same Cherokee Creek flagstone used nearby. Agapanthus Queen Mum and Euphorbia cotinifolia repeat from the adjacent bed, accented by Pedilanthus bracteatus and Yucca ‘Blue Boy.’ The grass is 7’ by 26’ so smaller radius rotators and 1 less spray head suffice, and water use is 30% less.


Our 5 conversions since 2014 transformed our property’s 10,000 square feet of lawn into 550 square feet of lawn and 9,450 of lush gardens. Similar to Santa Monica’s garden/garden, consumption plummeted 80%. When lawn lovers like us can remove so much and be so happy with the results, others can too.

Yet, since rationing ended this spring, demand for sod has surged. Reasons range from America’s love affair with lawns, to assumptions that gravel and cacti are the only alternatives, to beliefs that our water crisis passed. Given other options’ strengths and climate change’s reality, we have more work to do.