This week’s DnA asked why the Slide The City for downtown Los Angeles has become the target of drought-shaming while millions of gallons go unchallenged on other forms of potable water-based entertainment. The show talked about comparative use of water in LA’s archetypal pleasure places including swimming pools, water parks, golf courses and even restaurants.
But it didn’t get into the other big water-guzzler, the Socal lawn.
This DnA asked why the proposed Slide The City for downtown Los Angeles has become the target of drought-shaming while millions of gallons go unchallenged on other forms of potable water-based entertainment. The show talked about comparative use of water — directly and indirectly — in LA’s archetypal pleasure places including swimming pools, water parks, golf courses and even restaurants.
But it didn’t get into the other big water-guzzler, the Socal lawn (which uses 600 gallons per day per 1000 square feet assuming 1-inch per day of watering).
So in case you are pondering whether to replace your lawn with something more drought-friendly, here are some thought-provoking stats, assembled by architects John Griffin and Margaret Enright for Keep Off The Lawn, a temporary installation they created at SCI-Arc ten years ago.
Read about alternatives to the lawn, in this interview with garden designer Judy Kameon.
KEEP OFF THE LAWN
— Average inches grass can grow to if left unmowed: 20
— Amount of grass clippings generated annually for the amount of grass in
this installation (1,000 S.F.) : 300-400
— Percentage of solid waste sent to Los Angeles County landfills represented
by grass clippings: 15%
— Number of Americans who mow their lawn each weekend, in millions: 54
— Number of square miles of ubiquitous lawn cultivated in the United States:
more than 50,000 square miles. This is more than any other single crop
cultivated in the United States.
— Number of lawnmowers, edgers and trimmers in constant use in Los Angeles,
Orange, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties: 1.3 million
— Average air pollution from cutting grass for an hour with a 3.5 horsepower
gasoline-powered lawn mower is equal to driving a new car for 360 miles.
— In California, the estimated annual emissions from lawn care equipment are
equal to the emissions produced by 3.5 million 1991 automobiles driven
16,000 miles each.
— Percentage of U.S.air pollution caused by lawn care equipment: 5
— Amount of chemicals being applied annually to lawns: 70 million pounds.
This represents a higher concentration of chemical input than for any form
— Amount Americans spend on lawns, lawn products and lawn services annually:
— Amount the United States government spent on direct and guaranteed student
loans in 2000: $31.6 billion
— Number of words allowed per entry in the Toro Lawn Mower Poetry Contest:
— Number of deaths caused per year by lawn mowers and garden tractors: 75
— Number of injuries caused per year by lawn mowers and garden tractors:
— Number of young children run over or backed up over by riding lawn mowers
annually: more than 800
— Number of Web sites claiming that hospital recovery rates improve, and
suicide and child mortality rates decline, in suites with a view of a lawn: 1
— Number of doctors or research studies cited in support of this claim: 0
— Number of inches of rain annually in Southern California: 14
— Number of inches of water annually required maintaining lawns: 56
— Average distance from Southern California¹s nearest major water supply:
— Gallons of water required for maintenance of 1,000 square feet of grass
— Gallons of gas spilled annually by garden equipment: 17,000
— Gallons of gas spilled by the Exxon Valdez: 11,000
— Annual water required for the maintenance of the grass in this
installation is equal to filling this room with 3.5 feet of water.
— Annual water typically used (through over-watering) on the grass in this
installation is equal to filling this room with 7.5 feet of water.
— As recorded in a recent survey, the average time U.S. families with
children or dogs spend using their lawn is 5 hours per week.
— U.S. families without children or dogs averaged 1 hour per week using
— 26% of U.S. families spend absolutely no time at all outside on their lawn.
— Another 26% of U.S. families spend less time using than they did
maintaining their lawns.
— 96% of U.S. families surveyed answered “yes” to “Do you love your lawn?²
— When asked how many months of the year their lawn actually looked good,
the average was 4.7 months.
Images: Photograph from Mansfield Service Connection.com; Top, Keep Off The Lawn installation at SCI-Arc, courtesy Griffin Enright;