Why drought tolerant landscaping is the best financial and environmentally resourceful decision

Succulents near the beach in Long Beach. (Richard Grant | Signal Tribune)

While many are accustomed to the typical grassy front lawn, an eco-friendly shift to drought tolerant landscaping is an  environmentally sustainable way to support California’s persistent droughts. 

From succulents, cacti, various types of aloe and even heavenly bamboo, land owners can add beauty to their front or back yard with native Californian plants. 

But what makes drought tolerance so important? Although California is not as dry as Nevada, it has a particularly withered climate that leaves it vulnerable to wildfires and habitat endangerment for animals unaccustomed to rapidly changing conditions. 

According to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), 2020 proved to be one of the more disastrous fire seasons for the state seen in the last few years, logging a total of 8,112 fires that burned 1,443,152 acres of land.

The National Integrated Drought Information System, has an online resource that details five different levels of drought weather conditions. 

California is 99.2% in the “D0” level which is the Abnormally Dry category. 92.7% of California is in the D1 Moderate Drought category, 69.7% in the D2 Severe Drought category, 35.4% D3 Extreme Drought Category and 5.4% in the Exceptional Drought category. 

Succulents near the beach in Long Beach. (Richard Grant | Signal Tribune)

In severe drought conditions, the stunting of crop germination creates worry for markets supplying food to the general population and farmers who can no longer depend on dryland pasture growth, requiring them to buy expensive supplemental feed to sustain their livestock. 

Dry weather conditions result in a prolonged active fire season that heightens the risk of death and destruction of structures. 

By transitioning your lush green garden to a water-conserving plant landscape, residents can  contribute to the water conservation effort essential to California’s well-being. In addition, residents could minimize the amount of pollutants from run-off by installing a rain garden that will simultaneously store and purify water for future plant use.

Converting a lawn to a garden of California native plants requires less irrigation for the same amount of beauty which ultimately makes it a cost-effective choice for monthly water bills. 

The Long Beach Water Department offers a Lawn-to-Garden Incentive (L2G) Program which will reimburse landowners who choose to convert their lawn into active water-retaining drought tolerant gardens. The L2G Program will offer $3.00 per every square foot of visible front yards and $2.00 per every square foot of side and backyards for a maximum of 5,000 square feet. 

In an effort to continue striving for environmental sustainability, the decision to shift to drought tolerant landscaping is a beautiful cost effective option to take.

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