Some rules in L.A. made it too hard to get rid of the grass and that city leaders should make it as easy as possible for people to install lawn-alternatives, including synthetic turf. however, there is a debate over whether fake grass is good for the environment and whether L.A. should be subsidizing it.
In an effort to rip out their water-hogging lawns, homeowners have found out that the Department of Water and Power has offered one of the most generous grass-removal incentives in the state in 2015-- $3 per square foot of lawn replaced by a low-water landscape. The new yard can include drought-tolerant plants, gravel or artificial turf. However, this water-saving rebate program became so popular, the funds run out within several months!
Artificial turf, critics say, shouldn't be promoted as a grass substitute -- it's made from petroleum and provides no ecological benefit beyond requiring little water. Some
environmentalists even prefer a traditional lawn (provided it's a low-water variety maintained with an electric mower and without fertilizer) over the fake stuff because at least real grass photosynthesizes and provides habitat for insects and birds.
Still most people believe that fake grass is OK in moderation and may make sense for some homeowners who want a patch of green in their yard. Los Angeles, which is
already covered in pavement, needs more natural terrain to help capture stormwater and reduce the amount of dirty runoff that flows out to the ocean.
Yet, we need to understand why the DWP -- and most other water agencies in the state -- offers cash for fake grass. If their focus is on reducing water consumption in the
long-term, then artificial grass probably delivers more savings than planting succulents or native plants, which still require some watering.
Let's look at the
history of residential lawns: such ideas are from England where weather is
perfect for natural grass. Such ideas might work ok with warm and rainy states,
but not necessarily for state of California. The DWP largely promotes
California friendly landscaping with drought-tolerant plants, but synthetic
turf definitely reduces outdoor water use, which is the objective of the Cash for
Grass program, said Michelle Figueroa with the DWP.
Nevertheless, the DWP and the city's Bureau of Sanitation are currently working on a long-term Integrated Resources Plan on how to better capture, recycle and reuse storm water and wastewater. It's at least worth debating what role artificial turf plays in the larger goal of making L.A.'s urban environment more sustainable.
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