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Beauty, the beholder & grass that’s less thirsty

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POSTED May 9, 2014 1:48 a.m.

One man’s grass is another man’s weed.

Kevin Fant made that observation about several Del Webb at Woodbridge residents who don’t like the blend of fescue grasses that serve as the dominate landscaping feature at the Lathrop Road fire station on the edge of the age-restricted community.

Fant, who serves as the City of Manteca Parks & Recreation Director, appreciates where the residents are coming from.

“Some people like it and some people don’t,” Fant said in reference to more and more drought resistant landscaping that has started to make a resurgence in California.

To clarify one important point from Thursday’s story, sites with fescue grasses need to be visited 20 to 25 times during a year to assure overall site maintenance is going along fine. When it comes to actual mowing, the need is one or two times a year. That’s a drastic reduction from 45 to 48 times a year that the conventional non-natural California grasses require that are used in lawn areas.

That represents a significant reduction of manpower to mow plus reduces noise and air pollution.

And some fescues such as those planted along Moffat Boulevard at the Manteca Transit Station may never need to be cut depending upon how they look.

Given the fact water is going to become more and more of an issue as the state grows, fescues and other landscaping that reduces water use makes a lot of sense. That’s especially true when you consider the number one use of water by urban California residences is landscaping with grass representing the bulk of the consumption.

A University of California at Los Angeles study indicated 44 gallons per capita is used each day for landscaping in a typical California home. That is followed by toilets at 22 gallons per capita each day followed by laundry at 21 gallons, showers at 16 gallons, faucets at 15 gallons and dishwashers at 1 .1 gallons. Those are all per capital daily use numbers.

An argument could be made that the city should rethink front yard landscaping requirements for new homes to emphasize grasses and other plants that area easier on water without sacrificing style and color. 

Fant is definitely right when he says a shift to xeriscape or more drought resistant landscaping is a shock to people who are conditioned to the carbon copy front yards that have dominated California neighborhoods ever since suburbia took off like a wildfire in the late 1950s.

If you want an idea of what low-maintenance, no-mow front and back yards can look like, then spend some time Saturday on the Manteca Garden Tour. One of the six gardens is one such creation by Tom and Rita Canales. Up until two years ago they had lawns that had to be mowed weekly.

Most people in Manteca have little time or stomach for lawn mowing given the proliferation of lawn services.

Given that, going no-mow with low water use landscaping could save hundreds of dollars a year in lawn moving costs as well as water costs.

The garden tour is Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Tickets are $15 and are available at Delicato Vineyards, Ed’s Rockery, German Glas Werks, Manteca Visitors Center, New Buds Nursery, Park Greenhouse and Nursery, Silverado Nursery, and Rainforest Nursery.

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