I took a walk around town earlier today and looked at the houses on the various streets. Lone Pine has a eclectic mix of architectural styles, so it's sometimes kind of interesting to see modular homes next to century-old houses next to ranch styles from the '60s. A lot of things stand out when looking at any house; how the paint looks, the stucco holds up, the whole of the building is maintained, and the yard appears, and since we're in a drought here in California I spent a lot of my focus on the latter. Some are weed patches, others are overgrown, and a few actually look pretty great, but one question wouldn't leave my mind:
What's even the point of a yard?
A common thing I'd noticed with the most manicured yards in town was their... blandness. A swath of solid green, uninterrupted except for possibly a cement walkway, a row of bushes or flowers in front and a house in the background, and the evidence of it being meticulously mowed and watered are all that's left to show for the work and resources put into it. It's like a blank wall; there's so much ignored potential to actually make it interesting but it's left as just a boring empty space. It's something someone can look at and say, "I'm proud of that monochromatic patch of land, even though it's automatically watered and tended to by gardeners and serves no purpose other than... I don't know, status, I guess."
I don't get it. I mowed lawns for a long time, and aside from using a lot of water and harboring mosquitos in the summer I never really grasped what the appeal in a big yard was. According to the Association of California Water Agencies a 1,000 square foot lawn can use up to 75,000 gallons of water a year, which is bad enough even if one doesn't consider that it's 75,000 gallons use on growing something that's actually literally useless. It's water that's not used for drinking, cooking, washing, or pooping (unless you're a dog, I guess); it's used as a sacrifice to potentially impress your neighbors and maybe keep some dust down in the least efficient manner possible.
Opting for smaller lawns, planting local and drought-resistant flora, utilizing rock work, planting an actual garden instead of a lawn, and other more creative landscaping ideas would help save water and potentially better utilize the water used outside residential homes. Plus, it can help a home look a hell of a lot more interesting than some 1950s idyllic image of what a place should look like, which can at least help make a block look a bit more in touch with the reality of the state's situation.
Basically, all I ask of you, dear reader, is to consider what the point of your yard is. Save some money, save a lot of water, and get creative with your landscaping.