Couple Removed Lawn to Save Water, Got into Hot Water with City Instead

When Angelina and Quan Ha decided that they wanted to save water by removing their front lawn, little did they know that they would invite the wrath of city officials:

The dispute began two years ago, when Quan and Angelina Ha tore out the grass in their frontyard. In drought-plagued Southern California, the couple said, the lush grass had been soaking up tens of thousands of gallons of water -- and hundreds of dollars -- each year.

They said they were trying to do something good for the environment.

"We've got a newborn, so we want to start worrying about her future," said Quan Ha, an information technology manager for Kelley Blue Book.

But city officials told the Has they were violating several city laws that require residents to cover significant portions of their frontyards with live ground cover. On Tuesday, the couple is scheduled to appear in Orange County Superior Court to challenge the city's lawsuit against them.

Soon after the city complained about the yard, the Has placed wood chips on top of the dirt, with help from neighbor Dennis Cleek.

"It's their yard, it's not overgrown with weeds, it's not an eyesore," said Cleek, whose own yard boasts fruit trees. "We should be able to have our yards look the way we want them to."

But city officials determined the fix was not acceptable, saying city codes require that 40% of the yard be landscaped predominantly with live plants.


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I can understand the municipality's side here. It likely has less to do with appearance and more to do with the fact that vegetation cover prevents erosion. Even the roots of dead grass will prevent soil from getting washed into storm drains or into streams and so forth. Of course, having pesticides and petroleum-based lawn fertilizers going the same way, as they do, isn't a whole lot better.

Mars and Justin have the right idea. Use plants that have evolved to thrive in environments like the one you inhabit and you won't have to go to great lengths just to keep them alive.
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Unfortunately, I'm all too familiar with Orange. The city is obsessed with its American image and will go to great lengths to preserve it; the council also has no problem treating its residents like trash (just ask anyone who lives near the train tracks.)
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I think a better idea would have been to use drought resistant plants that grow native to the region. Simply turning your yard into a barren wasteland is kind of tacky.
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