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No Lawn

Our house shares a well with 3 other houses and we split the electric bill for the water pump. It has worked well for the two years Iíve lived here, but as this summer has progressed Iím having problems with the water pressure. At random times of the day I have nearly no water pressure which makes showering before work a challenge.  The other effect is there isnít enough pressure for full-distance spraying of the sprinkler heads of the lawn watering system.  The grass is slowly dying off because itís just not getting enough water.

The issue Iím coming to see first-hand is the waste of water for lawn watering.  Thousands of gallons of water a year to have a nice green lawn that I then have to cut, trim, fertilize, etc.  It just doesnít make sense anymore. Water is scarce now and getting worse every day. What brought my decision to a head was the failure of the well pump because the water table finally dropped down to its level and it burnt out from pumping air.  It went out on a Saturday afternoon and we didnít have water again until Tuesday afternoon. The water table in our area has been dropping steadily due to several thousand-foot city wells, over 250 wineries in our town, and a multiyear drought. For more in-depth information, read this great article in the local paper New Times called Ground Zero for Groundwater.

Facing all of this, I made the decision to rip out my lawn and install a xeriscape-based landscape, using local low-water plants and trees.  After an extensive search I hired J.K. Tubb Landscape.  I had a limited budget so we scaled down the original plan to drop boulders, rocks and mulch, and install fewer plants. I took the pictures below through the process. Take a look and see if it makes sense for your house, your lifestyle and your water usage.  Iím no longer watering the side or back lawn and will do a similar xeriscaping project in 2010.

Here is the lawn at the start of the project, already dying due to lack of spray pressure and then me stopping watering altogether.

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This shows all of the grass scraped off. We spread out the grass and dirt in the back acre to avoid taking it to the landfill.

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This shows the initial placement of the plants and trees.  There is a small decomposed granite walking path looping around.

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This shows the full installation of the plants and trees.

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The irrigation drip line is laid out and the project is complete!  Later I will build a trellis off the front of the house between the big tree and the path.  I will also get pickup loads of recycled bark mulch and spread it around every now and then.

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