Lawn to Garden

Photo by Nicholas Noell

Water-thirsty lawns are quickly becoming a thing of the past in Long Beach. We are now seeing yards that provide outdoor rooms for entertainment or meandering walkways surrounded by beautiful plants. Why? Because of a unique and very sustainable program Long Beach has designed to save water, which is quickly becoming a very precious resource. Southern Californians have survived periodic water shortages in the past by temporarily reducing water usage during the drought seasons. Because of the permanent decrease in imported water, the Long Beach residents now have a more permanent solution, thanks to our own water department.

The Long Beach Water District (LBWD), a trendsetter in sustainable practices, provides residents with free classes on how to create water-wise gardens as well incentivizing the homeowner to replace their water-thirsty lawns to a more suitable and sustainable landscape for our semi-arid climate.

The unique program helps Long Beach residents to save water and improve our local environment through what they call the Lawn-to-Garden (L2G) program. Some of the benefits promoted on the L2G website include, “reducing… the urban runoff polluting our Long Beach coastal waters, …protecting upstream rivers and wildlife habitats” as well as “…helping to sustain the reliable water supply essential to our families and economy.”

The conservation of water brings many benefits to our local environment as well as to the homeowner’s pocket with rebates of $3.00 per square foot of lawn removed from front yards and parkways up to 1,000 square feet. There is a process the homeowner needs to go through first. So don’t start tearing up your lawn yet. First, the homeowner needs to go through an application process as well as the design requirements involved. All this information can be found on the Lawn-to-Garden (L2G) website,

Other financial perks that the homeowner will notice by removing their grass is the reduction in maintenance costs. The homeowner no longer has to spend weekend mornings mowing the grass (or paying a gardener to do this for you). Your new landscape will eliminate not only the cost on maintenance and gas for the mower, but the need to have that space-consuming mower at all! No longer will there be a need for costly fertilizers or the use of harmful chemicals in order to keep that thirsty lawn green.

Removing your lawn can also significantly reduce your water bill because your new landscape will require much less water. All this leaves the homeowner with hundreds of extra dollars annually to spend on their now-free weekend mornings.

California-friendly gardens take little to no care and provide the homeowner with beautiful habitats that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Now isn’t that an added bonus! Not all gardens that are water-wise need to look like a desert scene. There are plenty of sages, grasses and small shrubs that provide subtle colors and flowers all year long.

Designing a California friendly garden can be a little tricky with many things to consider from exposure and size requirements to what kind of soil your garden has to whether the plants are toxic for kids and pets. Often times, the homeowner unknowingly installs an inappropriate plant for the area. This can result in either a shrub that is too big (which then needs constant trimming) or plant that is not getting the correct sun exposure so that it does not thrive. Both may result in costing the homeowner time and money to replace the ill-suited plant.

Before you plant, consult the L2G website or call a local landscape designer for help. Your local landscape designer can help you choose the right plants for your garden, saving you time and money in the long run. Yet, most importantly, have fun with your new California friendly landscape and enjoy the great feeling you get from helping our Long Beach environment.

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