While they are appealing to the eye, green sprawling landscapes and lawns use a tremendous amount of water and energy in order to thrive. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the average American household uses 320 gallons of water per day. In Southern California homes, 50-60% of household water usage goes to maintain outdoor landscapes. On the average in the U.S., 1 trillion gallons of water is wasted annually due to leaks and wasteful practices.
Green lawn lovers have another concern as last month, in facing what may be California’s driest year in recorded history, Ventura Water asked customers to make a 10% reduction in their water consumption in order to conserve our local water supply.
On Saturday, March 1, 2014, Professional Garden Landscape Designer Lisa Burton (Nature by Design, nbdgardens.com), served up some promising and beautiful solutions to a packed house. Kicking off the new 2014 Water Wise Series, the free “Turf Alternatives” Gardening Class was held at the City Public Works Maintenance Yard on Sanjon Road.
“There really is no better place for being responsible stewards of the earth than our own back (or front) yards,” said Burton. “If people like green lawns, there are a number of gorgeous, native appropriate alternatives. The same goes for beautiful flowering plants and shrubs. Think of how great you’ll feel when you see your beautiful landscape and garden working with nature vs. against it — and how much money and resources you’ll save!
“We have to come to terms that we live in a semi-arid, Mediterranean climate where lush green lawns and traditional landscaping just don’t make sense. We have to think differently about the choices we make including replacing the lawn idea with a balanced garden ecosystem that uses less water, is appropriate to the climate in which we live, and supports our local wildlife such as birds, butterflies and bees. It means landscaping with a vast and beautiful selection of California native and Mediterranean plants and turf alternatives that require less water and maintenance. I like to call it ‘ReWilding the Landscape’. A water-wise garden is so much more interesting than lawn anyway and will help save the homeowner from feeling the pinch of rising water rates.”
For over a decade, Burton, a Certified Sustainable and Wildlife Landscape Professional by the National Wildlife Federation, has been a recognized leader in sustainable landscape design. Her specialty is installing lawn alternatives, Ocean Friendly Gardens and Wildlife Habitat Gardens.
“These classes couldn’t be more timely,” said City of Ventura Environmental Specialist Jill Sarick. “We started a series of ‘Water Wise’ classes in 2013, and they were so well received, we brought them back by popular demand. The educational goal continues to be to help the public increase the vitality of their landscape while reducing their outdoor water use and green waste generation.”
Ventura Water presents the Water Wise Gardening class series in partnership with Ewing Irrigation and Green Thumb Nursery.
The next class, “Edible Harvest,” to be held on April 5 at Green Thumb Nursery in Ventura, will explain how to incorporate edibles into a landscape. The class series runs through June 2014 and takes place one Saturday a month from 10:00-11:30am. For more information about class dates, topics and locations as well as to register for the Water Wise Gardening Classes, visit: cityofventura.net/water/landscape or call (805) 652-4501.
–Maryann Ridini Spencer for SustainableVentura.TV