We’re in a drought here in California. No rationing yet, but there are requests for voluntary conservation. Then in July, the State adopted emergency drought regulations requiring all Californians to reduce water use by 20%. The city where I live adopted Stage 1 of a Water Shortage Plan to comply with the State Regulations. It includes the following:

  • Requiring outdoor irrigation to occur between 8pm and 6am.
  • Prohibiting washing down of hardscapes (unless required for public health and safety).
  • Prohibiting the use of potable water for street washing.
  • Requiring the use of hose-end shut-off nozzles on all garden and utility hoses.
  • Requiring “Water-on-request” programs at restaurants.

And still people have crazy green lawns and water the sidewalks. Apparently some of the people in my neighborhood have wells that they use for irrigation, and the city has less say over that.

Then I came across the following in Rosalind Creasy’s Edible Landscaping (2010), which are some pretty mind-boggling numbers. There has been some movement away from lawns, so hopefully all these have decreased, but wow (and not in a good way.)

  • According to NASA, in the United States lawns cover almost 32 million acres – an area the size of New England.
  • Americans spend $17.4 billion a year on everything from pesticides (70 million pounds) to lawn tractors.
  • Lawn mowing uses 300 million gallons of gas and takes about 1 billion hours annually.
  • estimates that Americans spend $5.25 billion on petroleum-based lawn fertilizers and $700 million on lawn pesticides – annually.
  • According to the EPA, running the average gas-powered lawn mower for 1 hour can create the same amount of pollution as driving a car 340 miles.
  • Nationwide, home landscape irrigation accounts for nearly one-third of all residential water use – more than 7 billion gallons per day. Lawns drink up over 50 percent of that.
  • Lawns require 1 inch of water a week; at that rate, using irrigation only, a 25-by 40-foot (1,000-square-foot) lawn can suck up about 625 gallons of water weekly, or approximately 10,000 gallons of water each summer.
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