Make your yard usable … and beautiful

by Juan Garcia

July is a time for recreation, leisurely barbecues and many hours spent playing with the kids or the dog on the backyard lawn area.

Yes, you heard right. I said lawn.

Despite the many years I have spent discouraging the use of turf due to its water-guzzling ways, a little grass can be a good thing, but only where it serves a purpose. For me, that means an area in the back where we can tumble, toss a ball, and maybe – for the more nimble among us – practice some cartwheels.

I removed the rest of my backyard lawn – and all of the front – a long time ago.

Why? Turf needs a lot of water to thrive. The more grass you have, the harder it is to meet your water budget, and that wastes water and money.

Consider a turf-removal program

This is the perfect time to assess how much grass area you really are using. Does your existing lawn area serve a purpose or function? If not, there are many programs and rebates available to help you replace your turf with beautiful drought-friendly plants and ground covering.

Rebates starting at $3 per square foot of turf removed are available to qualified residents, and tools are available online to help you create your new design. Rebates for water-saving irrigation devices are also available.

It’s like getting paid to transform your landscape and upgrade your outdated irrigation system.

Visit for information and ideas.

Juan Garcia is an Irvine Ranch Water District water-efficiency specialist.


Drought-resistant plants come in a multitude of colors, textures and sizes. Here are some alternatives to think about when replacing your turf:

Rosemary (Rosemary officinalis): Use as a shrub or ground covering. It thrives in the sun and, once established, requires little to no watering.
Parasol aeonium (Aeonium arboreum): These are beautiful, upright succulents with rosette leaf clusters in green and purple.
Foxtail agave (Agave attenuata): Agaves take on a dramatic form, growing in showy clusters with wide rosettes of silvery, pale green leaves.
African daisy (Arctotis hybrid): These flowering plants make a colorful ground cover with blooms of orange, purple, red, yellow and white.

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