- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Those planning to buy new homes in California will have to make do with less lawn.

The California Water Commission approved unanimously rules Wednesday reducing the allowed turf grass around new houses from one-third of the landscaped area to one-quarter, a change aimed at reducing water usage in the drought-stricken state.

The rules also essentially nix lawns around new commercial and office buildings. Those areas may use instead decorative rocks, shrubs and plants that do well with little water such as lavender and jasmine.

“The real driving force behind the model ordinance is to reduce the square footage of turf,” Mark Cowin, director of the Department of Water Resources, told the Sacramento Bee.

The vote comes in response to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s April 1 executive order instructing state agencies to, among other things, curb water usage on landscaping. Localities will be told to adopt landscaping measures at least as tough as the state’s “model ordinance.”

The state’s Save Our Water conservation program has urged homeowners to let their lawns “fade to gold,” replacing the previous “brown is the new green” slogan.

The commission’s order comes as bad news to the state’s sod and landscaping companies, but it’s also likely to make things hotter in the summer, according to Ed Zuckerman, president of Delta Bluegrass Company in Stockton.

“You better watch out for what you hope for,” Mr. Zuckerman told the Bee. “You’re going to have dust storms in cities, and heat islands in cities, like you’ve never seen before, and energy bills soaring.”

Two days ago, Mr. Brown signed a bill prohibiting localities from issuing fines to homeowners with dry, brown lawns during the drought, now in its fourth year.

This article was based in part on wire-service reports.

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