Postcards From The Edge – DROUGHT

I have lived through drought before, but I have never seen anything like what I am witnessing now.

I live in what is usually called an “up and coming” community – this is one of those places where artists and musicians come to raise their families, and before the drought, it looked like an adorable upper-middle class community of post-war bungalows.

Now it looks abject, a neglected place, even though the homeowners are anything BUT neglectful of their homes.

These pictures were taken on one block, around the corner from my house.

This is how things have looked since March, only now, in addition to the lawn shriveling up, foundation plantings are dying as well.

We simply don’t have water.

Has YOUR climate changed in any way that is affecting your quality of life? This drought means that I don’t wash my car, showering is quick, my beloved bubble baths are a thing of the path, and my garden is suffering. If it continues, it may mean that prices for food are raised dramatically, maybe for the whole county.

This is my reality, it is a painful reality for a passionate gardener. Even succulents and natives need regular water to thrive.

Yes, Los Angeles is a dream – a city built in a dessert where ALL the water is imported from elsewhere. Currently, we are in the midst of a population boom. Which means we need more water to sustain all the transplants (pun intended – even when I’m sad I’m cheeky!). Maybe what we need is to move this entire city somewhere else. Because THIS, this version of Los Angeles, is as unsustainable as it gets.

Have a look – this is repeated in many neighborhoods. The only thing that is worse is the neighborhoods that are lush and green.



Sigh. That’s all, folks.

Posted by

Ivette Soler
on August 27, 2014 at 10:05 am, in the category Lawn Reform, Ministry of Controversy.

Comment List

  • Garden Rant 23 / 01 / 2016

    Boy, those photos are shocking to this Easterner. Susan in green Maryland.

  • tara dillard 15 / 09 / 2016

    Are house foundations cracking?

  • admin 22 / 09 / 2016

    Google News search “aquifers” and “California.”

  • Kris Peterson 11 / 10 / 2016

    It may sound strange but I found your photos comforting. I, too, live in an “upscale” Southern California neighborhood and my front yard looks like hell, just like some of those shown in your photos. In contrast, the yards of many of my neighbors look much better – their grass is still a pleasant green color. I just interviewed a garden service provider who suggested that either something was wrong with my irrigation system or I wasn’t running it enough. He commiserated about the water cost when I said I’d reduced my watering but he looked a bit askance when I said I’d done that in response to the drought rather than the cost. We’ve taken out large sections of lawn already and the rest will probably go, albeit in increments. I think all of us in drought-stricken areas have a responsibility to change our planting schemes – the drought is a kick in the pants to emphasize that we do, indeed, live in a desert and we need to adapt to those conditions. Every region faces its challenges – be it floods, fires, landslides, tornados or other violent acts of nature – we need to understand the impact and adapt our life styles and practices to fit our circumstances. The world is a crowded place and we can’t all in a rain-blessed haven.

  • Mary Gray 23 / 10 / 2016

    I am curious about the first photo, with all the cardboard spread out. Do you think they are smothering what’s left of the lawn to prepare for a new planting scheme, something xeric?

  • admin 25 / 10 / 2016

    Yikes! I left Central Texas a year ago and headed east. Too hot, too dry, and little chance that it is going to get better anytime soon. My gardening heart just couldn’t take it any longer…

  • Mog 17 / 11 / 2016

    I’m from Australia where severe droughts are something we get pretty used to. Every time ‘El Nino’ strikes we get hit with drought, and this year we are at only 75% of our usual rainfall so it is looking like we are about to enter the next one after a reprieve of 2-3 years.

  • ks 19 / 11 / 2016

    Ivette, thank you for this post. I only wish those individuals who insist on broad green lawns in summer dry climates were likely to read this. I live in Northern Cal wine country and grew up in LA. Most of my lawn has been gone for many years and I admit my reasons were not drought-altruistic..I wanted more room for plants ! I retain a small path of grass as a savannah for my cats, and it gets watered sparingly. It’s fescue and if not mowed too low I can get away with watering twice a month. I don’t fertilize it at all. This time of year as the transpiration rate goes down I can get away with a week and half between waterings in my garden. We hope for some normal rainfall up here this winter –maybe 30 inches ? I’ll continue to use stingy water practices even if the rainfall returns to normal.

  • Ailsa 21 / 11 / 2016

    I come from a land of lawns and hedges (Ottawa, Canada) but many homeowners are willingly giving up their green expanses for something more ecologically sound and interesting. Since our bylaws have recently nixed the use of herbicides for control of anything other than noxious weeds, homeowners who aren’t obsessive about their lawns are seeing more plantain, dandelions and quack grass than Kentucky blue. If it’s not easy, it’s too much work.
    I personally would love to live in a hot, dry climate where my garden would be filled with agaves, cacti, echeveria and portulaca, not to mention beautiful boulders and river-washed stone that didn’t look out of place. I fully understand what you’re saying about clients wanting their green lawns and flowering shrubs of their childhood (in another climate), but I think this is truly a teaching moment, no? Fighting nature never makes sense, whether its a result of climate change or not; the unrealistic thought that during those non-drought years in desert climates we can actually grow things that need a lot of water is just fooling ourselves and setting ourselves up for heartbreak when everything green suddenly shrivels. It takes a few professionals (or non-professionals) to create gardens that can sustain themselves through drought to make others jealous:

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