Drought-Tolerant Landscape Cuts Back on Water Use

Santa Barbara Offering Rebate For Homeowners, Businesses To Relandscape

Drought Tolerant Yards

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - During the drought, the governor is asking Californians to conserve 20 percent of their normal water usage.

In Santa Barbara, residents haven't hit that number. In April the city conserved 12 percent but in May the city didn't conserve at all.

Up to 50 percent of all water use in Santa Barbara is used on landscaping. If residents want to cut down on how much water is used, a good place to start is outside.

"Everything in here is just natural. It's just taking care of itself," said Bob Hart.

Hart enjoys the new landscape in front of the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors office on Chapala Street.

The front yard used to be grass. To keep it green, it had to be watered often. But now, it's a model for drought-tolerant yards.

"Well it all started by looking out the window, and seeing grass out in the front and realizing no one ever plays on that grass; it's not being used as grass. And I drove by Lake Cachuma one day, and saw it and thought, why are we pumping that good water onto our lawn," said Hart.

To get the garden established, the drip irrigation was turned on once a week. Now, all it needs is minimal watering once a month.

"Some of them you would think require so much water. Like this, it's very lush, there's plants, there's flowers, there's green everywhere. And it just requires so much less water and maintenance than a lawn," said Madeline Ward, the acting water conservation coordinator for Santa Barbara.

Ward suggests if people like the way the Santa Barbara Association of Realtors office looks, wait until the fall to get started on replanting. But she said there is something people can do now.

"You know this summer a lot of people are letting their laws go golden. It's California, the Golden State. It's sometimes good to just let areas of your lawn just die out during a drought and then replant for something more climate appropriate when the drought lifts," said Ward.

The city is offering a rebate for people who want to redo their yards. Single family homes can get up to $1,000 back. For businesses and multiple-family homes, those yards can earn up to $2,000 in rebates.

"We have 1,100 members, the realtors in town, and they're all working with homeowners, especially homeowners who are just buying their homes. So we thought if we could educate all of our members, they can educate the community and we can really make a difference," said Hart.

Slideshow: Drought-Tolerant Landscape Cuts Back On Water Use

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