San Diego Residents Consider Drought Landscaping

Amid a severe drought, residents are tackling their lawns trying to meet the governor's unprecedented water mandates.

Heading into the long holiday weekend, many are already thinking about how they are going to reduce water usage by 25 percent. Whether you're in the market for a desert landscape or artificial turf or something in between, there's no shortage of choices.

We caught-up with a mom today at the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon who is considering desert-scaping. The only problem is her son wasn't sold on the idea.

"I like running around in grass, so I prefer grass instead of a desert landscape," said young Owen Castello.

At the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, you can let your kids take some grass for a test run, see how it feels underneath their feet. And find out how many average gallons per year each option needs in watering.

But what plants would a nursery choose for landscaping if it was their job to maintain it and pay for the water?

Rosemary, Germander, Statice, Manzanita, Bougainvillea -- those are some of the plants lining the commercial property of Walter Andersen nursery in Poway.

Luckily, San Diego has what horticulture experts say is a Meditterean climate with a huge diversity of native plants. NBC7's Dagmar Midcap says the Meditterranean climate will become about 10 to 15 percent drier over the next decade, according to most climate models.

Gardners were out in full force looking for options from Cordylines and Flax to complement their artificial turf.

"You can't just let everything die because everything gets dry enough as it is without us going out and adding to that," said Cliff Resch, retired La Mesa police chief. "So, we need to keep a certain amount of greenery. We need to keep a certain amount of open space between our houses and plants."

He says from a public safety standpoint, just turning off the water and letting the lawn die is dangerous in this wildfire-prone area.

"It's very dangerous for the home, and you can't just do that. Not only can you not afford to do that, but your neighbors don't want you to do it. If you talk to the Fire Department, they don't want you to do it."

But what if you don't have the time or budget to replace your entire yard with artificial grass or San Diego bentgrass sod, which has shorter roots and therefore uses less water?

Experts say start small. Replace one water-guzzling shrub with something like Germander or Rosemary. Or slowly start scaling back the size of your yard.

"All of us have to look at helping out, but it's got to be within reason and it's got to be within the budget," Resch said. "You don't want to tear out your grass, but yet you can't go out and water your lawn every day."

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