LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Downey's love affair with the lawn

Dear Editor: As a new resident of only one year, I have to say that I am very happy to call Downey my city. Purchasing a home here through some hard work, a bit of sacrifice, and a little luck has become the fulfillment of a personal American Dream. I look forward to being a part of this established yet still growing town.

However, as a new Downey resident, I have a piece of constructive criticism. True, this criticism is not exclusive to Downey and can be applied to many places in the Southwest. Still, because this is now home and a little fault-finding can be a seed of change, I’ll lay it out here:

Downey, you must end your long-standing love affair with your lawn.

I get that a green and manicured lawn looks great, that the concept of a lawn is a part of white-picket-fence Americana, that, at the end of the day, it’s your house and your lawn and you’ll do what you damn-well please with it.

I get it.

However, in the face of the worst drought in California recorded history, these justifications are starting to sound more like excuses. Yes, we can talk about the agricultural sector using 80% of the state’s water but there are things that we can all do here and now. With landscaping being up to 70% of your water bill every month, your lawn is a great place to begin.

Start small, perhaps a corner section of the yard, the one that gets too much sun and requires too much water. I’m not saying  you should have a barren patch of dirt as a substitute either - there are plenty of California native plants and trees that are drought tolerant, require a fraction of water use, and offer exceptional beauty. As an added bonus, native plants attract native insects and birds.

I’m not proposing you dig up your lawn tomorrow - these changes take a some planning, effort, and a little money. Still, with the continuing drought and an upcoming summer that promises record-breaking temperatures, it’s about time we start rethinking our increasingly inconvenient love affair with our lawn.

Osvaldo Gomez Downey