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Climate and Environment

With No End To California’s Drought In Sight, This Landscaping Change Could Make A Real Difference 

Bushes, plants and flowers in purple, greens and orange surround the exterior of a beige stucco home.
A native plant garden in full bloom during the 2019 Theodore Payne Garden Tour.
(Courtesy Theodore Payne Foundation)
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It's World Water Day, and California is calling on communities to swap out their grass lawns for more native plants as the state enters its third year of a worsening drought.

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  • We're here to help get your outdoor space looking great with practical tips, news and what you need to do to keep conservation in mind.

At the Theodore Payne Foundation for Wildflowers & Native Plants in Sun Valley Monday, California Secretary of Natural Resources Wade Crowfoot asked residents to make the landscaping shift now.

Californians use more than half their water on outdoor irrigation, Crowfoot said. Landscaping with native plants is key to conserving water.

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"If we can do that,” he said, “we're going to significantly reduce the water that we use across Los Angeles and greater Southern California…. Because after all, we don't know when this drought will end."

The state has been almost bone dry since the start of the year. The rain and snow that fell October through December wasn’t enough to get California through the second driest January ever recorded.

Last week, The California Department of Water Resources announced that it would cut water deliveries from 15% to 5%.

And in January, after the declaration of a drought emergency, Californians used more water, up about 2.6% prior to the declaration.

Crowfoot doesn't expect things to get better. In fact, he said, "conditions will worsen as it relates to water availability in the coming months."

He's urging residents to do the little things:

  • Turn off the water between washing dishes
  • Take shorter showers
  • Use  more climate-appropriate plants

The hope?
"By working together, we're going to be able to stretch water further in this drought,” he said, “and build our resilience to these droughts as climate change accelerates."

What questions do you have about Southern California?