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;