No doubt you’ve noticed some patches of brown in the lawns, with some areas almost completely devoid of grass. There’s a significant reason.
Earlier this year Governor Brown mandated a water saving directive for the entire state of California. His mandate left it up to each water agency as to how best to reduce water usage by the mandated amount (34%). Coachella Valley Water added a tiered pricing structure to encourage users to comply with the state standards without having specific rules in place. Once a user passes the 66% allotted amount penalty rates kick in….and those penalties are substantial (in the hundreds and thousands of dollars each month).
Fortunately they gave us guidelines as to how much water was “too much” before the penalties actually took effect so we were able to take a look at how we were doing things and work from there. Please note that each month’s allotment is not fixed, but based on temperature and amount of rainfall so we have to take a look at what we are doing after each billing period.
After some trial and error with watering amounts and times, with the help of our landscape maintenance people, we believe we found a pretty good balance for the summer months and we managed to keep most of the grass alive. Most of the trees and shrubs came through the summer with no problem. However, due to the water restrictions and the prohibitive cost of going over our allotment we have elected not to reseed this fall with our normal winter rye grass. We expect to save substantial amounts (as much as $700 – $800, or more, per month) in penalty water bills, as well as the very large amounts for seed, labor and fertilizer. The money we saved can be used towards an ongoing transition to a more eco-friendly landscape.
Once we have the median completed and the new mail boxes in we will concentrate on improving those areas hit most by the lack of water. Certain areas behind buildings (particularly on the east sides of Calle Mora and Calle Avilla) will need a layer of gravel to replace grass (in some of those areas the grass has never done well). We will also look at areas between the curb and buildings where the grass has suffered. Some of the smaller shrubs didn’t fare well, and some of the older shrubs have reached the end of their lives; we will replace as needed with less thirsty plants.
Please know that we are working hard to find a good balance to keep our grounds looking as good as possible.