“It’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs.”
― Charles Martin, Chasing Fireflies: A Novel of Discovery
Hey, the drought is over! Isn’t it great?
Well, that’s what I’ve been hearing from a few folks. Incredible, isn’t it? Yes, as I write this we are having some great rain, but thinking that even a massive El Nino can somehow bring everything back to normal is a foolish daydream.
I was poking around for a little inspiration for my editorial and impulsively looked up what I wrote 10 years ago, in March of 2005. And guess what? It was all about the great rain we were having possibly ending the drought! Shades of deja vu! Or have we been “back to normal” all along?
Climate scientists are saying that’s probably the case. Humans have been enjoying a long wet spell in the Southwest and as the flow of water gets squeezed down to a trickle, that’s the way it’s going to be for good.
In the meantime, people keep coming. Although the economy is still not as strong as the boom times, business is definitely picking up. New homes are once again being built, and new commercial developments are sprouting up. And of course, they all need landscaping.
We’ve come a long way since we started published in November, 1996. In those days, many Las Vegas landscapes consisted of bermudagrass with a fruitless mulberry tree popped in the middle. Pollen and allergies were the big issues.
But it didn’t take long for the harsh realities of desert living became apparent. Lawns became vilified, and we saw the advent of those hideous gravel landscapes. Was Las Vegas the first “cash for grass” pioneer? I’m not really sure, but the Water Authority was certainly an early adapter.
Granted, the Southwest had a lot of turf planted in stupid places. But once we got rid of those, the frenzy often continued. It seemed to culminate in playing fields made of old shredded tires. Yikes!
So this far down the line, we know that nothing beats real grass for playing fields. And we have amazing technology to irrigate it with. Largely in part due to golf courses, irrigation systems nowadays can assure that every drop applied to a landscape is used by plants and not wasted.
We’ve also learned how important it is to prep our soils. We now have access to composts and amendments that can make our desert soils bloom with a minimal amount of water and other inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers.
And speaking of blooming, we also have new plants coming down the line all the time to help us make the world more beautiful. And turf varieties that perform like champions while sipping a fraction of the water than in the past.
Don’t get me wrong…I love the desert. It’s a beautiful place that deserves our utmost respect. But human beings need a little greenery and shade to make it through the day. It’s hard-wired in us. And we as turf and landscape professionals can provide that in a sustainable, ecological way.