By Syed Rahim

Let’s talk about your lawn. If you live in the United States, your lawn is probably located in front of your house, next to your driveway. It’s probably green, routinely watered and well-maintained by constant mowing.

Unfortunately, if you do care about your lawn, you’re probably well acquainted with the cost it takes to keep it green. Keeping a nice lawn is a nightmare for the city and the citizen. According to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency ), 30 to 60 percent of urban water is used to water lawns.

And that’s the problem. Lawns require a lot of water. And when everyone has a lawn, everyone needs a lot of water. In drought conditions, like California’s past five years, restrictions had to be placed on water usage. When conditions worsened, the city pushed for sparser yellow lawns. These restrictions, though unfortunate for gardeners statewide, provided much needed relief for the city’s water supply.

“Especially with the drought epidemic that California has been going through the last couple of years, I feel that we strongly need to conserve our water for better uses, instead of keeping the front of our houses looking nice.” comments Greenfingers Treasurer Trina Nguyen. Greenfingers is a gardening club focused on beautifying our school, and run volunteering in local farms across San Jose.

In a place like England, where the rain never stops pouring, watering a lawn isn’t too hard to manage. But in Central California, where summers are long and dry, the strain on the environment is sometimes too much to bear. How do we address the issue of maintaining a garden that doesn’t drain our already limited water supply?

The answer is adapting to our climate. The Central Coast is a Mediterranean region, which is categorized by wet, mild winters and warm, dry summers. Other Mediterranean climates around the world include southwest and and southern Australia, central Chile and the Western Cape in South Africa. The plants that grow unique to these regions can be found at many stores, like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

The upside to these colorful plants is that they are easy to cultivate. With a versatile Mediterranean garden, you can choose a stripped down minimalist look or an untamed exotic feel. It’s entirely up to your imagination, which is something a typical lawn can’t claim. Some plants in this category include the bright Pouch Flower, the Chinese Dregea and the Yanagi Ichigo.

Growing a vegetable garden is also a good alternative to keeping an empty green space. Taking advantage of our coastal climate provides us with an easier time growing food compared to regions with harsher conditions. Some easy-to-grow plants for salad enthusiasts include lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers.

Gardening itself is a great way to destress. “Gardening is supposed to be a bit therapeutic and has many health benefits,” says Greenfingers Secretary Bernice Ou-Yang. “I do enjoy gardening. It’s very relaxing and fun at the same time.”

No matter what your opinion on gardening is, one thing is clear: you could be putting your lawn to better use. Whether you water your lawn every day, or don’t even touch it at all, the whole world could benefit from you being aware of your environment.

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