Virtually all the bungalows in Jennie and Chas Rightmyer’s Kensington neighborhood have well-tended lawns out front – part of the American dream, along with picket fences and two-car garages.
But increasingly dire warnings about statewide water shortages prompted the Rightmyers to remove their Bermuda grass. They are replacing it with a drought-tolerant garden that should be completed by month’s end.
The couple hope the new landscaping will cut their overall water use by more than 20 percent.
“It just feels like the time has come,” Jennie Rightmyer said.
Californians should end their love affair with lawns, said water officials, lawmakers, conservationists and landscapers. Many of these advocates have promoted native plants for years, but they now sense a greater potential for change because of the public’s growing concerns about global warming, drought and ever-rising water bills.
“It’s the beginning of the end of lawn at home,” said Nan Sterman, who teaches a class called “Bye Bye Grass” at the Water Conservation Garden in El Cajon.
Last week, the garden’s managers started a hotline for people to seek advice from Sterman about “water-smart” landscaping.
“It’s not just the early adopters anymore,” Sterman said. “It’s (average) people who are really getting the sense that we have to do something . . . which tells me that it’s becoming part of the mainstream.”