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16 July 2008 @ 11:35 am
Kill Your Lawn!  
I'm only halfway through decoupaging my laundry room door, but I decided to start researching two new projects.

(1) Installing solar panels, which I seem to remember runs about $30,000, is done with a home equity loan, and pays for itself in 10 years. My electricity bill is over $400 in the summer but I get rebates because I have an AC regulator, bringing it down to $200-300 a month.
(2) Xeriscaping my yard. I talked to tt about it and he was iffy on me just turning my water off, so I ordered some books from the library. I don't have any money but I want to start a five-year plan to get rid of my lawn.

A week ago, I was driving home from Dr. Wittenberg's after declaring myself cured (I'm cured every few months and a New and Improved Jessica appears) and I started thinking about lawns.
  • Lawns were invented in England where the grass friggin' grows naturally and native plants are used.
  • You Can. Not. have a lawn out here without an in-ground automatic sprinkler system. Period. People stress if their houses are in escrow too long because the lawn will die forever if you don't water it at least every other day.
  • In the desert, we have to plant this super-hardy bristly grass that can survive our direct sun and heat. You have to live here 20 years to own a tree that provides any shade. Shade grass is soft and invites lovemaking. Desert lawn grass pokes you and gives you rashes from the tumbleweeds that sprout in it.
  • I am deathly allergic to the tumbleweed sprouts yet I manically pick them to get them out of my lawn. I have to cover myself head to toe (pants, long sleeves, etc.) to do anything in the yard so that I don't die by itching. I have to cover myself in this manner whether it is 60 deg out or 112 deg out. I have to hop in the shower and scrub down as soon as I have come in contact with the lawn.
  • Jeff gets sick from the exhaust and grass particles whenever he mows the grass.
  • I pay about $90/month for water in the summer months because of my grass. Why did we import an English country tradition to the freakin' Mojave desert????
At that moment, I declared I wasn't watering my front lawn for another second. I turned the sprinklers off and it's mostly dead after a week. I can't think of any reason I would regret this decision. Can you? I am so happy to kill my lawn. I'm going to a class on killing your lawn next weekend and Jeff and tt pointed out a great place to shop for native plants.

Jeff is making a xeriscape plan and drawing up rock layouts for the front. We're keeping the backyard for the cats, but I also eventually want to rip out the grass in half of it.

DEATH TO LAWNS!!
 
 
 
mananathmananath on July 16th, 2008 06:47 pm (UTC)
The WSJ ran a section on alternative energy last week. It seems like CA is one of hte best states to setup a solar system. There is a federal tax credit of up to 2,000 (expires this year, might be extended and bumped to 4k) on an installation and CA offers a subsidy of as much as $2.5/installed watt. In CA a typical install size is 4 KW and will produce 80% more than the average required electricity. They also mention a company called Sun Run Generation which sounds like they basically lease your roof and then guarantee you a rate of 13.5 cents/kw hr.
lagizmalagizma on July 16th, 2008 06:51 pm (UTC)
I love you FOREVER!! Thanks for the info.
mananathmananath on July 16th, 2008 09:00 pm (UTC)
haha -- it's amazing what a little info will get me! :)

Good luck!
the Shapkatheshapka on July 16th, 2008 06:53 pm (UTC)
There is a house near 1658 that got rid of the lawn a few years ago. And, seriously, the lawn was like two postage stamps of poorly growing grass anyway. They laid flagstone and made a really beautiful patio. I think rocks and xeriscaping is the way to go.

DEATH TO LAWNS!
the Shapkatheshapka on July 16th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
Blozor: Seriousblozor on July 16th, 2008 11:32 pm (UTC)
Pave your yard and cover it in astroturf, I say. I've said it for years. Something else I can do without is a fucking tree. Who wants to spend all of three full months fucking around with leaves? And the acorns. OH MY GOD the acorns. Fuck trees. They're all plotting to kill us anyway.
the Shapkatheshapka on July 17th, 2008 12:40 pm (UTC)
Good plan! There was an awesome article about the developement of Astroturf in Invention & Technology a few years ago. There's been a big push to put synthetic grass in urban playgrounds--turns out it's safer and cheaper.
Mattie Campanarmyofcamp on July 17th, 2008 12:53 am (UTC)
Getting rid of your lawn will add to your energy bills. Grass is a natural heat sink that will absorb the heat from the sun during the day and radiate it out over a spread area at night. Surely you know this is why the desert has a significant difference in day/night temperatures. When you remove the grass, the heat from the sun bounces right off the ground and at your house. The best thing for energy costs is to have a large, lush yard, shady trees or shrubs, and a light-colored stone driveway.
Jacquelyn: crackedantarcticlust on July 17th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
Except for all the energy that goes into keeping a lawn - and all the water! A "lush yard" in the desert is really ridiculous- it's the desert for a reason. If there was enough water to support lush greenery, it would definitely be there. In temperate zones, sure!

You can also choose what rocks and materials you put down to minimize the reflection of short-wave radiation. But given that it's not likely that anyone in SoCal will give up their central air, it's not going to make that much of a difference. I'm assuming homes are designed slightly differently in order maximize passive climate control, anyway.
Mattie Campanarmyofcamp on July 19th, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
People shouldn't live in the desert anyway without living like a nomadic tribe so your whole point is moot.
Jacquelynantarcticlust on July 19th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
Definitely agreed on that point!
lagizmalagizma on July 19th, 2008 06:42 am (UTC)
I can rest your case
"Water utilities use large amounts of energy to treat and deliver water. Even after utilities deliver water, consumers burn more energy to heat, cool, and use the water.

The California State Water Project is the largest single user of energy in California. In the process of delivering water from the San Francisco Bay-Delta to Southern California, the project uses 2 to 3 percent of all electricity consumed in the state."
Jacquelynantarcticlust on July 19th, 2008 03:18 pm (UTC)
Re: I can rest your case
Ooh, good call - all that water takes energy to transport and clean! I hadn't even thought of that.

Water will really be the next oil, I think.
lagizmalagizma on July 19th, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
Getting rid of your lawn will add to your energy bills.

While I do agree with elements of your comments below, this statement is not backed up by the data.
"Water utilities use large amounts of energy to treat and deliver water. Even after utilities deliver water, consumers burn more energy to heat, cool, and use the water.

The California State Water Project is the largest single user of energy in California. In the process of delivering water from the San Francisco Bay-Delta to Southern California, the project uses 2 to 3 percent of all electricity consumed in the state.
Watering wastes a ridiculous amount of energy and water. Keeping around grass just for the cooling effect isn't cost effective. Yes, grass provides cooling. But a tree and some natural grasses would do that far better, at a fraction of the cost. A few trees and 10 years of TLC would entirely change my energy footprint...I am so jealous of people who have grown mature trees and can cool their house 10 degrees or more.

Grass is a natural heat sink that will absorb the heat from the sun during the day and radiate it out over a spread area at night. Surely you know this is why the desert has a significant difference in day/night temperatures. When you remove the grass, the heat from the sun bounces right off the ground and at your house. The best thing for energy costs is to have a large, lush yard, shady trees or shrubs, and a light-colored stone driveway.

Like I said, the payoff from grass is lower than that of doing proper science-based landscaping with trees and shrubs (like you said). I'll take your comments on ground color into consideration when picking my stones.


Edited at 2008-07-19 06:40 am (UTC)
Ellis Bell: mad modzenithblue on July 17th, 2008 02:29 am (UTC)
Amen about the lawn. We rent and our landlord would have a hernia if we fucked with the lawn, but as soon as I own a bit of property that shit is OUT of there.
Jacquelyn: global warmingantarcticlust on July 17th, 2008 02:15 pm (UTC)
I am very supportive of all your projects! These are wonderful ideas. Native plants and xeriscaping are the way to go!

The politics of water are also huge; so much of the country is in drought, and SoCal takes a lot of its water from out of state.
lagizmalagizma on July 19th, 2008 06:43 am (UTC)
We also ruin our own upstate ecology in the Owens Valley/Mono Lake area. :(

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Water_Wars
la belle dame sans mercipunkalicia on July 18th, 2008 01:14 pm (UTC)
word! I'm a lawn darwinist. people were bemoaning the loss of their lawns during the worst of the drought we've been going through here in NC. Mine seems to have survived it's neglect, so it may stay.

the only big plans I have at this point are doing away with the poison ivy (although it is terribly lush in the winter) and replacing some of the plants in my overgrown section with various butterfly attracting and nurturing plants. all native, since well, that's the kind of butterflies I'm trying to attract!

I will gently steer people away from just paving stuff (which it doesn't seem like you guys are doing). I don't know if it's a problem in the desert, but a big problem we have here is with permeable ground. lots of talk of all the new construction really fucking with our watershed since the water turns into runoff, vs soaking into the ground. plus all the problems inherent in runoff.
jetsetjasonjetsetjason on July 31st, 2008 01:28 pm (UTC)
cool
jetsetjasonjetsetjason on July 31st, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
read How to Live Off-Grid by Nick Rosen, you need to change lifestyle, it appears
(no subject) - heidssterr80 on August 7th, 2008 12:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
lagizmalagizma on August 7th, 2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
So glad to hear from you! And so nice to hear you tell me how right I am. Hahahahaha. My lawn is dead and I love it!!!!!