2008-09-09

LA Times on lawn

The LA Times has a series of articles in last week's Home and Garden section on lawn alternatives. The main article,
Landscape rules on how much lawn is enough differ by city
, highlights the potential legal pitfalls when homeowners who change their lawns run afoul of out of date city laws. I've mentioned this possibility before on this blog.

...before yanking out the Marathon and replacing it with concrete or AstroTurf, it's best to check out the myriad landscaping rules, regulations and ordinances individual municipalities enforce. Just because Los Angeles homeowners can put, pour or plant nearly anything in their frontyards doesn't mean Long Beach residents can too.

Equally confounding is that some cities are promoting water conservation, while still requiring that yards be at least half grass. Officials are scrambling to catch up with a conservation movement that many of its residents already have embraced.

"It's hard, because changing the zoning ordinances is a long process," said Jesse Brown, assistant planner for Burbank. "It can take a year and needs City Council approval."

Add to that the different philosophies among city planning departments, and headaches are born.


The article summarizes S. Ca zoning laws for single family residences for seven local communities. The rules vary from vague (Riverside - "requiring that the space be maintained at a quality at least equal to that of the rest of the neighborhood") to specific (Santa Barbara - "Owners submit landscape plans to the city. Yards of single-family homes must be designed with no more than 20% of the landscaped area planted with grass or plants that are not drought-tolerant. Grass is not allowed on slopes with 20% or greater grades within landscaped areas.").

In Lawnbusters: turf alternatives the Times does something that it now seems to be doing more and more frequently, reprints stories from its archives. I guess their troubles have seriously impacted their ability to produce new materials. Still, it's a nice gathering of lawn-related stories all in one place. Typically pictures are linked from within each story, and sometimes those are the most inspirational.

Apparently idea of using yarrow as lawn still has currency:

From the article Ways to lighten up on watering, "Less lawn. Or simply try a smaller lawn. Skip grass and get a flat green carpet with yarrow, thyme or juniper." [emphasis added]