Carlsbad Community Community Northbound

Northbound: Green grass in drought-stricken North County

Have you thrown in the towel on owning a lawn?

I haven’t. Though it’s been challenging to say the least in the new reality of drought restrictions and rising water rates in North County.

As a kid, there was something magical about running barefoot on soft blades of glass. I have nostalgia for those days. It’s something I want my future children to one day experience.

There’s also something visually appealing about a green sea of grass. It’s calming, and beautiful.

Maybe that viewpoint is controversial in today’s new reality of drought restrictions and water-wise public awareness campaigns.

To be clear, I’ve cut back dramatically on my home water usage — I average only $20 to $34 a month for water usage on my utility bill.

That was a tough benchmark to reach. In my backyard, I had to replace plants with succulents, ice plant and mulch. I use a timer to keep my showers down to five minutes or less. I replaced my old dishwasher and washing machine with high efficiency models.

The front lawn has struggled to survive under watering schedules that went from three times a week to once a week. But it survives.

Many of my neighbors have given up on their front lawns; succulents, mulch, and rocks have been the leading replacements. I considered replacing mine a couple years ago, when the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California had a generous rebate program for turf replacement. I did my homework; the numbers didn’t pencil out for me.

I received surprisingly high quotes for turf removal and drought-resistant landscaping. It was going to cost significantly more than just keeping the lawn. Some of the work I could have done on my own, but it wasn’t advised by many I spoke with who made the transition.

Owning a lawn has taught me the challenges of home ownership. It’s continuous maintenance, investment, vigilance, all leading to pride and satisfaction of a job well done. Pulling weeds? That was my job as a kid, and I guess some things don’t change with age.

I recently aerated my lawn, fertilized it, and dropped new seed when we had the last storm pass through North County. In its current state, my lawn isn’t pretty — it’s a mix of crabgrass, dead blades and tender shoots. Still, I’m committed to making it work, no matter how long it takes. The weather won’t always be as hot and dry as it’s been the past few years, and eventually new seedlings will take root.

Worst-case scenario, I could always let the lawn go brown and buy green grass paint at Home Depot. Still, I keep the lawn, for wetter future years.

In drought-plagued California, all of us have a responsibility to be water wise and do our part to help our communities collectively reach their state water target reductions. It’s a balance we have to reach to keep the things we enjoy about our homes. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and changes to keep my front lawn. How are you challenging yourself to keep the green at your home?

Vince Vasquez is a think tank analyst based in Torrey Pines. He is a Carlsbad resident.