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Artificial Turf Grass Displays Water Savings in SoCal Garden

With California in the third year of a drought, the San Gorgonio Pass Water Agency in Beaumont is trying to demonstrate that it is possible to have a lovely garden without using a lot of water. The agency, headquartered on Beaumont Avenue, is replacing its front lawn with landscaping that is much more water efficient.

The 5,000-square-foot space will consist of rocks, a little bit of artificial turf, plants and decomposed granite. Work could be completed by the end of this week.

The agency, a wholesale water retailer, is spending $31,000 on the project. Tom Lara Landscaping in Cherry Valley is doing the work.

Board member Ted Haring said the agency is trying to show people they can have “nice-looking landscaping without a lot of grass.”

Grass lawns require a significant amount of water. In the Pass area, nearly two-thirds of the water used by individual homes is for landscaping and other outdoor uses, according to the agency, which encourages water conservation.

The agency is replacing its sprinklers with a “smart” irrigation system that will water the plants only when needed.

“It literally measures the moisture in the ground,” said Haring, a water conservation consultant.

The agency is having Lara plant greenery that mostly is native to the area, which means the plants won’t require a lot of water to thrive. The plant list includes rosemary, chaparral sage, autumn sage and blue fescue.

It will be a colorful landscape when in bloom.

Decomposed granite is a paving material used in walkways and driveways. Haring said it has an attractive yellow-beige tint.

Once completed, the landscape will resemble a dry river bed, said agency General Manager Jeff Davis.

Reach Erin Waldner at 951-763-3473 or ewaldner@PE.com

10:00 PM PDT on Monday, May 11, 2009

Original story by ERIN WALDNER
The Press-Enterprise

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