As Drought Continues, California Landscapers Switch Up Techniques

Landscapers in Coachella Valley are finding themselves having to employ water-conservation gardening techniques as California’s severe drought is changing the local landscaping industry.

The Desert Sun reports that the drought has forced state residents to severely curtail their water consumption. The state government has imposed mandates on cutting back water use — up to 36% in some areas — as well as offered turf replacement rebate programs for homeowners. As a result, landscaping companies in Coachella Valley and throughout the state have to change their methods in order to stay afloat.

Some landscapers and gardeners claim they aren’t terribly affected by the constrictions. Many others, however, say they have to switch their “focus” from conventional landscaping to water-conserving landscaping. Still, very few landscapers are concerned that the industry will decline.

“There’s no such thing as maintenance-free landscaping,” said Jim Harrison, President of La Hacienda Nursery and Landscape. “I don’t see layoffs or any of that. I just don’t see it.”

Californians have found one of the simplest ways to cut down on water use is to let the grass turn brown. State incentives have motivated many residents to switch to desert landscaping plants and turf.

Desert landscaping is nothing new but, on the other hand, it’s not so simple either. Jeff Place, a professor of horticulture and turf management at the College of the Desert, says that kind of landscaping work “requires an expert eye for design.”

“It really opens up, I think, an opportunity for new business,” Place said. “I’m telling my students to basically get on the bandwagon.”

“Landscaping is not going away,” he added. “Smarter landscaping is going to be demanded.”

In addition to being better for the land itself, professional landscaping services can raise the value of a property. Several studies have shown that quality landscaping services can increase a property’s value by seven to 15%.

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