If you can't make it, fake it. Some Southern California homeowners are taking that phrase to heart as water costs surge in the Golden State. Eyeing the savings, they've decided to tear up their grass in place of artificial turf, allowing them to show off their emerald green lawns year round.
It's a fitting way to give the illusion of a lush, green landscape in Orange County, home of the original Real Housewives.
California water regulators last month adopted the state's first rules for mandatory cutbacks in urban water use as the region's catastrophic drought enters its fourth year. Some communities will be required to trim water use by as much as 36%.
Those numbers mean steady business for Vic Watterson, whose company Waterless Turf tears up water-thirsty grass for artificial grass.
"I think most people are really becoming a lot more aware and responsible and feeling the effect of what may be coming down the road with the water shortage, and raising water prices as well, so it's been good," says Watterson, adding that the savings for installing a fake turf lawn far outweigh the initial investment.
"From the water standpoint, the average household uses probably between 30% - 60% of their water bill goes towards the lawn since it's usually a larger segment of their water usage, so that would be a percent savings there, and then along with the maintenance savings, I would say they would end up somewhere between around 40% of the average, savings that they were normally spending before on water and gardener and fertiliser, maintenance type costs," says Watterson.
For homeowner Mike Fouch, replacing his grass with drought-friendly turf made sense to him, and helps make him feel that he is contributing to water conservation in parched California.
"As you drive up the 5 freeway, and see all the farms that have kind of gone to pot right now because they haven't been able to get water, you feel kind of guilty, the fact that here I'm washing down my driveway, and we can't grow crops in California to feed the world, so I'm thinking that by changing out to the Tiger Turf, and getting a blower, I feel like I'm doing at least my little part to save water in California," says Fouch.
California is in its fourth year of a devastating drought that has prompted Governor Jerry Brown to impose the state's first-ever mandatory cutbacks in urban water use, up to 36% in some communities. California grows nearly half of all US fruits and vegetables, mostly in the Central Valley, and ranks as the top farm state by annual value of agricultural products.