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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Residents Re-Landscape Gardens To Stand The Drought

Water Conservation

Everywhere you go in L.A. you see bright, green lawns and blooming flowers. Manhattan Beach residents Sarah and Steve Olsen saw something different. 

On March 1, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill giving an additional $500 million to water agencies that implement conservation plans. It's already having a trickle-down effect.

"The vast majority of water goes into landscape, and especially if you have a big lawn," Steve said.

Some say not enough Californians feel the drought, but the Olsens do. They decided to cut back.

California officials are encouraging residents to redesign their gardens with native plants to conserve water in today's drought.  

The Olsens have a water drainage system underneath their garden to collect rain that will slowly seep into the plants' roots. 

"Drough tolerant landscaping typically only takes 20 inches of water per year, whereas grass turf takes about 80 inches per year," said Long Beach Water Department's Kaylee Weatherly. 

Long Beach encourages conservation through an incentive program that pays residents $3 for every square foot of grass they remove. Homeowners can earn up to $3,000 if they make the switch to drought-tolerant landscaping. Santa Monica has a similar program, paying residents $2 for every square foot of grass. 

Santa Monica resident Emilie Moore is taking steps to limit water usage beyond her garden. She changed her high-pressure showerhead to a low-flow device. 

"It's just important for people to realize that small changes at home...can really make a difference," said Moore.

The Olsens say replanting their garden not only saves them money in the long-run but makes them feel like good citizens. 

"It's certainly good to know that we're doing our part to contribute to something that really belongs to the whole community," said Steve. 

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