On November 29th, 2014, the New York Times published an article entitled “Where the Grass is Always Greener, a Push to Share Drought’s Burden”. In the article, Ian Lovett quotes the California state water officials as saying that Rancho Santa Fe residents “used an average of 584 gallons a day… nearly five times the average for coastal Southern California.” Even though water restrictions are in place, homeowners have reduced their water consumption by “only 1.5 percent from September 2013, compared with 10.3 percent statewide.” Meanwhile, in the low income areas of the San Joaquin Valley residents cope with “dry taps and toilets they cannot flush.”
Many Rancho Santa Fe residents and business owners cringed at reading the article and hated the spotlight that was being shone in our direction in such a glutinous way. Water for affluent Rancho Santa Fe residents seems to be endless and for purchase as desired. The statement “if you can afford it, it’s yours” comes to mind.
The Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club, however, did step up to the water rebates and restrictions. The 86-year-old golf course changed its traditionally grassy fairways, and late last year they removed twenty acres of turf grass found in the rough and replaced it with native shrubs and trees. Beautiful native Oaks, Ceanothus and other evergreen and flowering low-water shrubs will soon be mature and enhancing the course.
We should all be following the example set by the golf course and adapt to our ever-changing climate conditions. In last month’s column, we lay out ten ways in which you can reduce your water usage.
Here are a few additional facts worth noting about the current Rancho Santa Fe landscapes:
· We live in a desert that receives on average less than 10” of rainfall per year (the national average is 30”).
· Most vegetation in this area exists because of irrigation or runoff.
· Fescue lawns are one of the highest-maintenance, water-thirsty, chemically-needy groundcovers available.
· A mere 1,000 square feet of Fescue requires 35,000 gallons of water each year to maintain a healthy appearance.
· Citrus groves typically don’t make money. They require a lot of water and management for diseases and pests.
· We are in a three-year drought with no end in sight.
· San Diego County is currently under mandatory water use restrictions.
· The United States is one of only a few countries that use drinking water to irrigate landscape plants.
Yes, Rancho Santa Fe residents own significantly larger properties than most other coastal Southern California homeowners. Because of this, it is understandable that our gallons per person our going to be higher than most. There are many other uses for our land, however, that don’t require much irrigation, and Fescue lawns don’t need to be the only look that works. Think about how beautiful northern California highways are with their butter yellow grasses and deep olive green Mesquite trees.
The world is changing. So should we. For help in reducing your water bill by converting your landscape to low-use water plants with an efficient irrigation system and to lead the drought tolerant movement in Rancho Santa Fe, call or email Nature Designs. We can help transform your property into something beautiful and sustainable during your lifetime: Mail@NatureDesigns.Net or (760) 945-4321.