With the hot, dry summers becoming the norm we see more dry spots develop in lawns where it is difficult to water. Water conservation is best achieved in some of these areas by changing the landscape and giving up on lawns. Don’t get us wrong, we love lawns. Quite frankly, we make our living from managing and maintaining lawns. We also hate trying to maintain lawns where they won’t grow, and it is hard or expensive to maintain. The pictures above are examples of where lawns are not successful.  

Why is there a lawn where it shouldn’t be? The simplest answer is that the lawn is the cheapest part of landscape installation. New lawns on freshly prepared soil look great at first. but deteriorate over time due to multiple factors. Parking strips and parking islands can be the worst places for lawns. The concrete or asphalt on the sides of parking strips causes shallow soil which makes it difficult for grass to access reservoirs for water and nutrients. Irrigation coverage is difficult due to small, odd shapes, and as tree roots develop, they compete for moisture. This leads us to believe that parking strips and islands may take as much as 5-10 times as much irrigation to maintain. In addition, these areas are difficult and sometimes dangerous to maintain due to nearby cars and obstacles.


What is the Alternative? There are many options we have had success with, such as replacing lawns with bark dust, shrubs, or well-suited groundcovers. We have experimented with using the same type of Sedum we use on green roofs, but it has had marginal success in parking strips. We are seeing locally and nationally the use of rock and are very excited about that as an option. Below are several pictures of Rock as a groundcover that is very attractive and easy to maintain. Rocks do not need water and never die. Some have expressed concern about the liability risk with rocks, but we believe that is low. If someone wants to throw a rock through a window, they will find it even if there is no rock in the landscape.  

Several years ago, we used the parking strip out in front of our Hillsboro Office as a test case for a lawn conversion. Below is the before and after. We are now using little irrigation and the parking strip is even more attractive.   

Read More about the Project Here: https://www.pacscape.com/sustainability/lawn-conversion.php

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