Postcard from Los Angeles

I’ve spent the past couple of weeks in the City of Angels … hot, hot and more hot. We were mostly based in Long Beach, about an hour on the freeway south of central LA and where the temperature was always a merciful couple of degrees cooler and sea breezes likely.


The outer peristyle garden at the Getty Villa, a re-created Roman villa at Pacific Palisades (that’s the ocean you can see in the background). Photo: Sandra Simpson

While I was there I was fascinated to read this on the Garden Drum website:

Los Angeles has paid residents to remove more than 93,000 square metres of lawn from their home gardens since 2009.

With the first 5 months of 2013 being the driest on record across the south and western US, cities are looking at rebates for lawn removal, and even a complete ban on all new front lawns. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power says its lawn rebate programme will save about 178 million litres of water a year. Long Beach offers its residents $US2/square foot to take up their lawn (a proviso being that it has to be alive, not already dead).

In Las Vegas front lawns are banned in new residential developments and rebate rules state the lawn must stay removed even when the house is re-sold, or the new owners will have to repay the rebate plus interest.

Friends from Palm Springs came over to Long Beach to spend some time with us, pleased to be away from the southern California desert and the 46C heat they’d been having. I mentioned this story to them and they rolled their eyes – lawns, and irrigation systems, are par for the course in Palm Springs! (They don’t have a lawn, by the way.)

So it’s been a long, hard summer but the gardens I saw were looking pretty good – thanks to a lot of New Zealand, Australian and South African plants used, plus palms, palms, palms and lots of cycads. I’ll get into specific gardens in later posts.


3 thoughts on “Postcard from Los Angeles

  1. Beautiful photo. This is the second time this week that I have read about this lawn rebate concept. I think it has some merit, although I think I would prefer to try recycling water or using drought resistant grasses (are there any?) before digging up my tiny lawn.

    • Hello Gallivanta,

      The unsustainability of lawns is becoming more and more apparent. However, there are some gardeners (mostly men I’m picking) who really enjoy caring for a lawn and making it as luxuriant and grassy (as opposed to weedy or mossy, like mine) as possible. I think lawns do have a place, perhaps though, not in every climate. Mediterranean gardens, for instance, often feature gravelled areas rather than lawn simply because a green sward in summer is nigh-on impossible without a lake of water, recycled or otherwise.

      Thanks for commenting,

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