American yards have a drinking problem. for decades, we've bought into theaesthetic of the perpetually green lawn -- watered, fertilized and pest-free. And we've landscaped our yards with exotic plants that crave more water than the climate naturally supplies.
At 32 million acres, lawns are the largest irrigated crop in the U.S. We pamper them with one-third of all the residential water used daily (7 billion gallons); in some regions, it's as much as 50% to 70%. The thirst for water grows with the population and the increasing reliance on automatic irrigation -- which is so pervasive that it now produces summer water shortages even in relatively wet regions, such as the Pacific Northwest and New England.
Much of that water might just as well go down the drain -- and much of it does. Homeowners who find their irrigation system's controller as perplexing as a VCR rely on their lawn-maintenance company, which all too often sets it and forgets it. The system ends up running on an irrigation schedule meant only for the hottest, driest summer months. Sousing the lawn diminishes its health and creates a vicious cycle of fertilizing, applying pesticides and herbicides, and then watering some more. [Read full article]
By Pat Mertz Esswein,
Provided by Kiplinger.com