Surviving our Drought

Share this:

The lack of rain and a long draught is finally taking its toll on all of us, as we are now forced to deal with the consequences and begin to see nothing but brown everywhere.

Having the opportunity to fly often in and out of California for both business and pleasure, the landscape from one state to the next is a clear reminder that California is indeed in serious trouble.

As you fly home from states like Utah, Hawaii, and Washington, you see green everywhere when flying to those states, but nothing but brown as you arrive back in Los Angeles or Orange County.

The drought has become so acute that in areas like Palm Springs, very strict regulations have been imposed on residential communities.

As Vice President of my Association in Palm Springs, I now have to do things I never guessed were coming our way in regards to our property of condos.

The city is requiring us to drain all reflecting pools and fountains, and close down any other kind of water feature on the property. We cannot drain our pools for repair or refill. We can water minimally three days a week and must let the grass go brown. We are also forced to landscape a portion of our property in desert scape. Individual units are required to cut water usage by 35 percent.

This property was well known for its beautiful landscape of grass and trees, and flowers changed out regularly. It was very much kept like a Ritz Carlton property (known for their lush and beautiful landscape).

When I left my property last weekend, it was looking like an empty unkept maze of homes. Soon we will be taking out all the flowers, cutting the grass down to the dirt, and finding ways to keep the empty fountains from collecting trash and becoming an open hazard for residents.

Here in Newport Beach, we are getting close to having to start taking similar measures to save water. We can water only two designated days, cannot wash down sidewalks, wash cars by hose, and are probably looking at mandatory restrictions on water usage in our homes rather than voluntary.

I moved to a new home on Lido Island last August. I finally had the yard space I always wanted on the side and back of my home. I was planning to hire a professional landscape company to help me plan a low water use and easy care yard that would look beautiful not only for me but my neighbors as well. On Lido you are not allowed to build a high fence on the back strada area as it was designed to remain open property along the walkways.

The area outside my house is in concrete because I need a landscape that can maintain itself when I am traveling and still be appealing to everyone that surrounds me. I wanted to use pots and planters and minimal patio furniture. For me, less is more, and well kept is a must. Additionally, the strada of my house faces a beautiful home with gardens that are expertly maintained, and a well cared for home that matches the landscape.

My neighbor Richard is a delight to live behind. Everyone on Lido who passes by his home admires both the house and its gardens. This house is like a gift to the neighborhood. He also truly lives in this house and uses his outdoor areas as they were designed for. Like myself, he would rather eat dinner outside and at home more often than going out. It is wonderful to see someone besides myself who enjoys his or her home and lives outside as much as possible.

This house is a large part of why I chose this location on Lido for my first home that was not attached to someone else. Imagine my delight when seeing that so many others pass by enjoying something that can be shared by everyone.

I had planned to make my house more desirable to stroll by, but the drought has finally taken its toll and it will be postponed for a while. Water restrictions may get worse and I cannot spend money on something this costly that may end up being cut back even more.

However, when the drought eases, I will craft a strada area that Richard and others look onto that will be more than a freshly painted white house.

The story I am trying to tell is about neighbors and getting through the drought. We should care how our property affects others and strive to be good neighbors. The drought will require us to cut back our landscape, water less, and conserve more. But in doing so we can also cut back, replant, and maintain what we have. It will require lots of work to make what we do have left look manicured and maintained.

Neighbors working together will help bring us all through the water crisis that has finally left us no other choices but harsh cutbacks.

That is My Take,

Dr. Gloria J. Alkire






Share this:


  1. Gloria,
    Your article was extremely doom and gloom which creates a spin of hopelessness, dis pair and resentment to out outdoor surroundings. Must nature recurve such harsh ridicule? In response, I assure you, and your neighbors, there are a myriad of positive outcomes to this crisis. We all understand the drought is serious, but the real question becomes, how can MY garden change to fix this? Not to worry, there are endless solutions for homeowners to keep their beautiful gardens while use less water. Some solutions are as easy and inexpensive as a $8 bag of mulch. I’m a excited and optimistic as our shift in environmental awareness as both educational and a great opportunity to redesign the fashion of our gardens and what we perceive as beautiful. Let me remind you how quickly fashion trends change, afros, teased hair and bell bottoms were the ‘it’ thing and so were lawns. Why did the disco era die yet lawns have not? It’s about time we update out outdoor wardrobe, reduce our landscape maintenance, turn off the blower, water less and redefine our sense of beautiful! It’s such a tangible effort you’ll make your Neighboors jealous, and honestly it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Plus, didn’t you say you changed out your flowers twice a year? What if your plants bloomed year round and you never had to buy new ones? As a horticulturist I can help you! A few of my favorites include Aloe ‘rookappie,’ Salvia greggii, Salvia ‘Mystic Spires,’ bedding vinca and Asteriscus ‘Gold Coin;’ they’re all flowering, beautiful, and perennials. Your garden needs a facelift and now you have a horticulturist to help. No need for a scalpel or a full-on landscape design, you just need the excitement, advice and direction from a seasoned horticulturist, a small garden trowel, a bag of soil, a bag of mulch and an open mind.
    Dig in and enjoy the change,
    Tracy Wankner