From The Walton Family Foundation (Jill Ozarski):
In Colorado, water-conscious homeowners are protecting river health by removing thirsty turf landscapes
For millions of homeowners, the romantic lure of the lawn is impossible to resist.
Americans are said to have a “love affair with lawns,” spending billions of dollars each year to cultivate and care for vast expanses of lush green grass in front and back yards across the country.
Rachel Mondragon doesn’t understand the appeal.
Over the past four years, the suburban Denver resident has been steadily removing turf grass from her property in the foothills of Colorado’s front range.
Not only does a ‘perfect lawn’ hold little aesthetic value for Rachel, she is bothered by the environmental costs of keeping the grass growing in a semi-arid region under persistent threat of water shortages.
“I kept thinking, ‘Why are we spending so much time, water and effort on this grass turf when, honestly, it just doesn’t bring any joy to my life,” Rachel says.
“I want to save on water. The idea of needing to water the lawn every day, and the thought of all that water going just to grow grass that’s not even native to this area, it just didn’t make sense to me.”
Rachel’s desire to remove her thirsty lawn led to her participation this year in a pilot project designed to help Colorado residents to make the shift from turf to a more water-efficient landscape.
The program, run by the Boulder-based non-profit Resource Central, offered a menu of incentives to 60 homeowners interested in converting their lawns into xeriscape gardens that feature low-water plants, mulches and other turf options that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation.