Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Mayoral Getty House Gardens Going Drought Tolerant

Getty House

The wide green parkway in front of 605 South Irving Bvd, the official residence of Mayor Garcetti and his family, is no more. Indeed, after announcing last week that city residents need to take this drought seriously and undertake some real water-saving practices, Garcetti has walked the walk, or should we say planted the plant, with the City replacing the front parkway median along Irving Blvd. with drought tolerant landscaping. The parkway along 6th Street remains grass and trees.

One of the first in this section of Windsor Square, the new landscaping, which evidently did not require approval from the local HPOZ Board (Historic Preservation Overlay Zone), may be an incentive to other homeowners in Windsor Square where wide expanses of lush green lawn are the norm. Some sections of the surrounding community, such as Beachwood Drive north of Beverly, have a significant number of lawn-gone, drought-ready front yards looking lush. CD 4 candidate Carolyn Ramsay is leading a tour of the Beachwood Dr drought-tolerant gardens on Saturday Nov. 1st – sign up here.

According to Mayor Garcetti’s office, the parkway (between sidewalk and street) was planted with three low-growing, low-water use plants. Two of the plants, Callistemon viminalis “Little John” and Grevillea lanigera “prostrate form” are already featured in the existing front yard plant palette. The third plant is Dianella revoluta ‘Baby Bliss. A new Netafim drip irrigation system will save approximately 60% more potable water. It should be noted that in area parkways planted with mature trees, many of the trees are suffering in this drought, and need regular deep watering, at least once a month. A slow drip from a hose over a period of 5-6 hours, should do the trick.

The back gate of the Getty House property, located on Lorraine, sill has grass and mature Diodor trees - which will need continued watering should they change out this lawn also.
The back gate of the Getty House property, located on Lorraine, still has grass and mature Cedar Deodar trees – which will need continued watering should they change out this lawn also.

The next stage at the Getty House is removal of  the front yard lawn. Using a process called “sheet mulching”,  several layers of paper will cover the turf and then 4 to 6 inches of mulch placed on top of the paper. In 3 to 4 months, the paper will decompose and the turf will be gone. There are a variety of ways to kill the grass and get rid of their root systems: none are easy and all take some time.

The front yard at Getty House, being
The front yard at Getty House, being “sheet mulched.”

With the third year of drought upon us, the LA Department of Water and Power’s California Friendly Landscape Incentive Program now pays residents $3/square foot for replacing turf grass with California friendly plants, mulch, and permeable pathways. This may inspire many to save the water and get rid of the lawn. We will miss the long swaths of green lawn that connect homes in a park-like setting, but understand this may be the new reality, and may have added benefits like providing health habitat for birds and pollinators who seek out the rich seeds and flowers that the California-friendly plants offer.

What do you think of our neighborhood losing its grass lawns?

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Julie Grist
Julie Grist
Julie co-founded the Larchmont Buzz with fellow buzzer Mary Hawley in 2011 and served as Editor, Publisher and writer for the hive for many years until the sale of the Buzz in August 2015. She is still circling the hive as an occasional writer.

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