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Throughout the arid and semi-arid regions of California, landscape irrigation is a major component of per capita water use, conservatively accounting for 30% to 43% of total annual water consumption. Watering residential landscapes is the single greatest household use of water as well as more than half of urban use. Further, a correlation exists between cities with the highest levels of per capita water use and the predominant use of traditional turfgrass and hydrophilic landscapes (Hurd, 2006).
Identified within the California Single Family Home Water Use Efficiency Study (DeOreo et al., 2011), the average annual outdoor use was determined to be 190 gallons per day for the study group (Table 1). Annually, that is 87,000 gallons1, ranging from 17,000 to 226,000 gallons per account, with an average residential irrigated area of 3,631 square feet (ft2) and median area of 2,634 ft2; 7,000 ft2 for the average commercial site (Christian-Smith et al., 2012). With the conventional landscape containing 40% to 80% irrigated turfgrass area. By altering the landscape through a reduction of irrigated turfgrass area, outdoor water use patterns will vary. This can potentially yield significant water savings. Based on a typical residential site with a conventional cool season turfgrass landscape, studies have estimated a savings range from 35% to 75% of current per capita water use (Ferguson, 1987; Knopf, 2003; Sovocool, Rosales, and Southern Nevada Water Authority, 2004).
This Potential Best Management Practice (PBMP) Report attempts to delineate the water benefits (or detriments) attributed to the reduction of the conventional turfgrass intensive landscape and is inline with the California Urban Water Conservation Council’s (CUWCC) landscape new-norm strategic focus. This PBMP candidate has been termed “Turf Removal.”