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Old 08-07-2013, 08:01 AM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
66 posts, read 155,981 times
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I'm no botanist or environmental scientist, so maybe this is a silly question. But is there a reason besides appearance/tradition that people and businesses use so much water to keep golf-course quality grass, even in dry climates?

Would a sudden, universal stop to the practice throw something ecologically off balance, or just save water? It seems absolutely ridiculous to see the apartment complexes in my Texas hometown spray their grass non-stop on summer afternoons (or worse, the sidewalks, because they don't bother doing it efficiently).
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Old 08-07-2013, 08:27 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
31,753 posts, read 57,854,705 times
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I suppose in your area it would be a good idea to replace lawns with drought resistant plants or hardscape. Here we never have to water lawns before mid-July, and then only until about mid-September. Most people don't bother wasting water, they let it yellow and brown and when the fall comes they green up again within a few weeks. It's really not practical nor
responsible to have a green lawn in a dry climate.
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Old 08-07-2013, 09:34 AM
 
14,026 posts, read 14,524,674 times
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Obviously, Western Civilization would collapse. I moved to Denver a couple years ago - the concept of lawn maintenance is ridiculous to me. I'm from Jersey, where it requires very little to have a green lawn for the most part, so people who live in an arid climate and work so hard to have a lush green lawn absolutely boggle my mind. I mean, I'll water my vegetables and herbs, but I refuse to make any extraordinary efforts for mere grass.

I just bought a house this year, and I'll be replacing the front lawn with planted beds of vegetables, fruits and herbs on a drip irrigation system and putting mulch in between the beds.
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Old 08-07-2013, 11:21 AM
 
1,176 posts, read 2,154,309 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nicole.cpp View Post
I'm no botanist or environmental scientist, so maybe this is a silly question. But is there a reason besides appearance/tradition that people and businesses use so much water to keep golf-course quality grass, even in dry climates?

Would a sudden, universal stop to the practice throw something ecologically off balance, or just save water? It seems absolutely ridiculous to see the apartment complexes in my Texas hometown spray their grass non-stop on summer afternoons (or worse, the sidewalks, because they don't bother doing it efficiently).
It's funny, but if you don't water St. Augustine it doesn't die. For prolonged periods of high temperatures and little water, it goes dormant. It looks like hell and may require a wet summer to fully recover, but the yard will not die.

I'm currently trying to replace as much grass as possible with mulch. Every tree gets a twenty foot radius of mulch. If I need ground cover I prefer rosemary or Texas sage, maybe salvia.
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Old 08-07-2013, 05:04 PM
 
Location: Washington, UT
175 posts, read 506,915 times
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I live in a desert climate where irrigation - sprinkler systems/drip lines are widely used. I'm not here to defend water wasters, however, some people do their best to use water in a fairly responsible manner. E.g. drip lines deliver water precisely where it's needed for less waste, automatic sprinklers run before dawn to limit evaporation, sensors can be used to water only when necessary. So, while water is being used in a arid climate, there are ways it can be done in a more responsible manner. Some cities even have regulations enforcing the above. Seems to me like common sense, but you know what they say about that.

About 75% of my yard is hardscape, with a small amount of grass, plants and trees. As with all things in life, there are trade-offs. For example, having shade trees around your home minimizes the amount of electricity you need to cool it. Having grass in a hot climate keeps your yard/patio cooler than hardscape. Plants and bushes provide habitat, shade and water sources for birds, lizards and other wildlife. Flowering plants provide pollen for local bee populations (currently dying at an alarming rate). If everyone suddently stopped watering, my bet is that there would be a ripple effect of consequences. Don't know exactly what or how bad, but it seems every action in nature has an equal an opposite reaction.

Several years ago, the History Channel had a show called "Life After People" where experts speculated what would happen to Earth if people unexpectedly vanished. I know you were being serious, but we all need humor, so here's my comedic attempt to speculate on your question:

Day 1 - Without a release, water pressure builds to dangerous levels until toilets everywhere erupt, injuring millions and providing fodder for America's Funniest Home Videos for years to come.
Day 2 - Early morning joggers suddenly no longer get back spackle from running through puddles. Stock prices for Shout and Asics plummet as clothes and shoes are no longer ruined.
Day 5 - Humidity levels plummet. Severe dry skin, cracked elbows and chapped lips cause a run on Aveno and Lubriderm - supplies run dangerously low. Martial law is delcared. Dry eyes wreak havoc on internet gamers staying up late playing Halo 4.
Day 10 - Lawns are brown. Dads everywhere are forced to ride their mowers around the neighborhood to avoid screaming kids who "just want them to set up the slip and slide." What, can't hear you...the mowers too loud...
Day 30 - Without flowers, bees die in droves. Honey becomes the new currency of the post-irrigated world.
Day 90 - Without bees, all crops die and huge dust storms envelope the Earth. Swiffer cleans up...literally, as people use their cloths as masks.
Day 180 - Temperatures plummet; surprisingly, Vanilla Ice becomes popular again as our morale wanes.
Day 1240 - Life on Earth ends except for those preppers everyone made fun of on Nat Geo. Who's laughing now! They go deep undergound for years. A small group of politicians find a way to survive on the surface.
802,701 A.D. - The preppers emerge as the working class Morlocks and the politicians as the lazy and ineffectual leisured class Eloi - which is the only thing in the world not to change at all!

You see, harsh consequences await. Ha!
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Old 08-08-2013, 12:50 AM
 
Location: Out there somewhere...a traveling man.
40,446 posts, read 50,064,580 times
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What would happen if everyone stopped watering their lawns?

You'd have a gigantic dust bowl.
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Old 08-08-2013, 01:44 AM
 
16,482 posts, read 21,721,566 times
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If we stopped watering our lawns they would dry up and die and would have to be replanted the next year.
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Old 08-08-2013, 02:39 PM
 
Location: Cambridge, MA
66 posts, read 155,981 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brokencrayola View Post
If we stopped watering our lawns they would dry up and die and would have to be replanted the next year.
Would they have to be replanted because people want lawns, or because there is an ecological need for them?

Maybe I'm naive, but I feel like people in arid climates should accept that, say, barren dirt instead of foofy grass just comes with the territory. Decorate it with rocks or cacti or something.
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Old 08-08-2013, 05:53 PM
bjh
Status: "Keep calm and carry on." (set 6 days ago)
 
Location: Memphis - home of the king
35,936 posts, read 24,719,518 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wit-nit View Post
What would happen if everyone stopped watering their lawns?

You'd have a gigantic dust bowl.
And a tinder box around family homes waiting for the next set of "wild" fires to pass through.
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Old 08-08-2013, 06:50 PM
 
748 posts, read 1,459,327 times
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Nothing would go on, except nature would go on as it always has. No one seems to water laws where I live and I do find it silly. Grass was around long before humans ever started watering it, seems to have survived without us before, why bother now? That's what rain is for, it takes care of those things.
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