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Should smaller lawns and drought-tolerant plants be required?

In an effort to ease the strains of drought, encourage lush landscapes and enhance photosynthetic landscapes, some west coast communities are taking aim at a beloved fixture of suburban domesticity: the lawn. In an increasingly thirsty landscape, officials are drafting new laws that prohibit homeowners from installing a vast blanket of verdant grass ‘” the sentimental site for pet and childhood play. Existing grass is safe, but the new rules to conserve water would restrict lawn size for new homes and new lawn-and-garden projects to as little as one-quarter of a home’s overall landscaping. More turf is allowed only if homeowners do the math to prove they are conserving in other areas. For a 2,000-square-foot yard, that’s 500 square feet of grass ‘” about the size of a two-car garage. But could such measures become a concern for Georgia and other southeastern cities before long? Based on recent rainfall, it may not seem so. As of late 2009 though Georgia FACES concluded that thanks to generous rains, Lake Lanier and Lake Hartwell basins had only improved to mild drought. The basins were previously in moderate drought. So could the measures being put into place on the west coast help on the east coast as well? Perhaps the thought should be more focused on cities like Atlanta and Athens where population is dense and suburbs are rampant rather than large counties like Lamar and Pike. GO! Editors note: The following three points are a brief summation of the conservation acts: * Limit lawn around new homes to 1/4 of the total landscape. (More is allowed if homeowners can prove they’re conserving water in other ways.) * Require that 80 percent of the remaining landscape be native or drought-tolerant plants, all of which must be surrounded by 2″ of mulch. * Require “effective irrigation systems”. (Does this mean irrigation is required or that if you have irrigation, it must be effective?)

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