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Lawn time ago: Tucson saves water with desert landscaping, synthetic grass

Tucson used to be a city of lawns. Patches of Bermuda grass lined residential neighborhoods, kept green — even in blazing summer months — with diligent watering. Over the decades, that has changed. Most Tucson residents eschew lush lawns in favor of landscaping more in tune with the city’s desert setting — although that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no green at all.... Read more»

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3 comments on this story

1
7 comments
Aug 3, 2018, 5:57 pm
-0 +0

In the ‘60s when we moved to Winterhaven, known best for its tradition of Christmas displays, the subdivision owned its own wells.  As a condition of owning a house there, we were required to keep a lawn in front, from the house to the street (and we were required to provide an electric hookup for lights that Winterhaven strung in the big evergreen in front of the house each December).  Thus Winterhaven was different from much of the rest of Tucson, where plain or colored gravel or cactus gardens were common in place of a lawn.  In return we received our water for a low fixed monthly fee (higher if you had a swimming pool, I was told).
When I later visited Winterhaven I noticed that there were a number of houses that were landscaped without grass.  I also heard that the city had taken over the Winterhaven wells, with a corresponding rise in the price of water, which would explain it.
But 55 years ago I would not have characterized Tucson as “a city of lawns,” though they were not uncommon.  Just Winterhaven.

2
539 comments
Aug 3, 2018, 6:36 pm
-1 +0

Winterhaven still has its own water company, but the association and residents have worked to conserve water. I lived there for a while, and our lawn and shade trees used about the same amount of water as the semi-xeriscaped landscape we had at the house just prior. (A couple of fruit trees can really suck it up.)

3
7 comments
Aug 3, 2018, 8:47 pm
-0 +0

Thanks for filling me in.  Also I apologize - I was aiming for the green button but apparently hit the red button, that should say +1 up there.

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Vanessa Barchfield/Arizona Public Media

Even with no grass on the ground, landscape architect Steve Grede’s home garden is an oasis of green in downtown Tucson.

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