Sign Up for Your FREE
Savings E-Newsletter Now!
Search the AHA Website:   
Exclusive Benefits
  24/7 Emergency Service
  Froople! Free Shipping
  Travel Values
  Grocery Coupons
  Home Loan Center
  Vision Discounts
  Improve Your Credit
  Moving Services
  Free Legal Network
  Home Contractors
  Real Estate Resources
  More Benefits ...
AHA Home Courses
  1st Time Home Buying
  Home Living
  More Courses . . .
  AHA Top Tips
  Article Library
  AHA on Your Side
  Government Links
  AHA Newswire
  More Resources . . .
About AHA
  What Our Members Say
  Our Guarantee
  Our Mission
  Privacy Statement
  Press Room
  Contact Us



Unique Relief for Drought-Stricken Lawns

With 18 states under severe drought conditions this summer, many homeowners are left high and dry. Those forced to comply with watering restrictions can only watch in horror as their lawns and vegetable gardens turn from green to yellow to brown. But wait, good old American ingenuity is coming to the rescue. Many are turning to the old-fashioned rain barrel to catch precious drops from the roof. And the draconian solution that causes consternation among neighbors is installing artificial turf with no watering required.

The rain barrel was a fixture until the second half of this century in rural areas. Several wooden feed barrels placed at drainage points around the barn could produce hundreds of gallons of soft pure water for livestock, watering and indoor uses. With the advent of irrigation systems and indoor plumbing, the rain barrel became somewhat obsolete. Now it's enjoying a renaissance thanks to dry conditions across the country. Florida is suffering from a three-year drought, with groundwater levels not likely to return to normal levels for many months. Enter the rain barrel. County extension offices and city agencies in Florida and Washington State can't keep them in stock. Some industrious homeowners are learning how to fashion rain barrels out of old plastic drums by adding a spigot and a screen to the top.

Channeling the flow of water from rooftop to gutter to barrel pays dividends for thirsty lawns and gardens. One inch of rain flowing off a 1,000 square foot roof is enough to provide 625 gallons, more than enough to nourish a small lawn or garden. The only problems are mosquitoes and aesthetics. Standing water offers a haven for spawning mosquitoes but that's easily avoided by screening off the barrel or adding a few drops of vegetable oil to the water. And some neighbors may flinch at the brightly colored barrels. Apart from those minor concerns, the only drawbacks are weight (a falling 350-pound barrel can be dangerous) and freezing in the fall and winter.

If you're ready to give up completely and want a no-water, no-maintenance lawn, then how about a plastic lawn? Artificial turf is now making its debut on lawns, although not without controversy. Some homeowners say the faux grass cuts down on hassles and costs, and helps them comply with water restrictions in drought areas. Albuquerque is one of several cities that provide an incentive by offering as much as $500 to residents who convert at least some of their lawn to landscaping that needs little water. (But not necessarily artificial turf.) Similar laws are in force in places like Las Vegas and Mesa, Arizona.

How much will it cost you? About $10 a square foot. That means a 1,000 square-foot artificial lawn can run $10,000, several times as much as natural grass. Of course, you won't be paying for fertilizer or water, or even paying a landscaping company to mow it. But how many years will that take to pay off? True, reducing water waste during the dry season is good but artificial turf absorbs less rainwater than grass, which could lead to flooding in some areas. Some neighborhood associations have adopted policies against the invasion of bright green plastic grass.

Sources used to create this article include Rick Brooks, Sarah Collins and the Wall Street Journal.

©2003 American Homeowners Association (AHA)®
Stamford, Connecticut 06905.   All Rights Reserved.
Toll-Free 1-800-470-2242

  America's #1 Homeowner Organization Since 1994