Unclear on the concept

July 6, 2015 § 1 Comment

Got grass?

The L.A. Department of Water & Power and the Metropolitan Water District will pay you to get rid of it: $3.75 per square foot for the first 1,500 sq. ft, then $2 up to the maximum 3,000 sq. ft. A good deal for home owners and landlords who are tired of paying $4.83 for every hundred cubic feet of water (~750 gallons) to keep lawns green.

The one condition attached to the California Friendly® Landscape Incentive Program (yes, they’ve trademarked the term): Turf should be replaced with “water wise landscaping features.” Examples given are California-friendly plants, mulch, and permeable pathways. I’ve previously featured two exemplary Silverlake sites (here and here), completed when the rebate was a mere $1.50 per sq. ft.

turfNow comes Silverlake’s latest low-water entry: this multi-family dwelling on Armstrong Avenue. Its owner will get the rebate, I suppose, because the new landscaping technically meets the program’s requirements. It’s permeable and a rock lawn doesn’t need to be watered.

But a rock pile hardly adheres to the spirit of  “California Friendly.” Water wise plants not only use little water, they convert the sun’s rays into self-nourishment and exchange CO2 –the dominant greenhouse gas–for oxygen.

Instead of lowering temperatures as plants would, these rocks will absorb summer’s heat and radiate it long into the night, keeping ambient temperatures high. And unless these are very special rocks, they’re not going to supply us with oxygen.

Gentle Reader, let design-impaired neighbors know that if they want to conserve water, they can simply turn off their sprinklers. Tell them you’re okay with a brown lawn, which will, after all, revive during the next rainy season.

Even Ezekiel, however, could not revive this pile of dry rocks.

N.B. For a dry landscape alternative to Ye Olde Rock Pile, read this piece about Japanese kare-sansui by my friend Meher McArthur, Asian art historian/curator and blogger.

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