For parts of the country, summer means figuring out how to keep up with rapid grass growth without mowing the lawn every single weekend (grass should never be cut by more than a third in a single mowing). But that’s not the problem in California.
In the midst of a crippling drought, authorities in the state have adopted even more restrictions on turf intended to cut water usage. New office buildings will be allowed to have virtually no grass, and new homes may have only a quarter of the total lot’s acreage covered in grass (exceptions will be made for new construction that uses recycled toilet or shower water for landscaping). Rocks, shrubs and less thirsty plants, such as jasmine, are encouraged instead.
Some people say that even these steps don’t go far enough, and that the entire concept of emerald lawns in the Golden State must be abandoned. “We are a state prone to drought that should move away from the ideal of every home having a lawn that is watered with precious drinking water,” Tracy Quinn, a policy analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council, told NBC San Diego this month.
Disagreements over lawn watering — and seeming inequality in enforcement of restrictions on lawn watering — have even led to ugly confrontations among neighbors.
One such outburst took place on online bulletin board Nextdoor this month when Michael Feliciano of Curtis Park (a Sacramento neighborhood) began criticizing two of his neighbors for planting new sod, also asserting that several others couldn’t possibly be keeping their lawns as green as they were while also complying with city water restrictions.
“The possibility that we could run out of water is very real, and yet, there are those among us who seem to believe that they are entitled to ignore water restrictions, in the name of their beloved green lawns,” he wrote.
Fellow residents soon responded, generating almost 150 replies in just a few days. Some quite literally defended their turf, while others seconded Feliciano’s comments and further castigated people with green lawns.
This so-called lawn shaming isn’t an isolated incident, either. As of July 15, neighbor reports and city patrols in Sacramento had lodged 26% more complaints about water violations than they had at the same time last year.