In Texas, many reservoirs are several feet below their conservation pool level, meaning tight watering restrictions will continue in most cities in the arid parts of the state.
Arizona and Colorado also will be pinching water as experts are scratch their heads for solutions in an area that has so taxed the Colorado River, it slows to a trickle in places. With demand from farms, ranches and residents exceeding the water’s capacity, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen to massive municipal users like Phoenix.
Now comes California, facing an historic, disastrous drought this summer of 2014. Farmers are paring back their plantings as state as officials urge residents to take fewer showers, flush the toilet less and convert to no-water landscapes.
So let’s talk about those landscapes. Homeowners in the Southwest typically expend 30 and up to 70 percent of the water they use on their outdoor environment. Why? Because many defied nature and blanketed their yards down with exotic turf grass, such as Bermuda or St. Augustine, that need big gulps of regular watering as well as fertilizing.
There are two main ways to beat a thirsty lawn into submission, says Bill Neiman, co-owner of Native American Seed: Reduce the amount of turf in the yard and/or convert to native grass mixes that Neiman and others have developed. Native grasses, once established, thrive on the natural rainfall in the Southwest and prairie states.
Here’s the story in pictures, taken mainly in Austin, Texas, where water scarcity long ago dictated that homeowners pay attention. These lawns are purposely not the fanciest you could see, but represent doable, affordable conversions.