It was early last spring that Joseph Mawardi decided he no longer wanted to keep up the greens.So begins an article from yesterday's Broward Edition of the Sun-Sentinel by Ihosvani Rodriguez. The City of Hollywood has verbally cited 2 families for having lawns landscaped in such a manner that they don't require watering. Absurd, you say? In a nutshell, yes.
Defeated in battling his brown and parched lawn, Mawardi hired a landscaping company and paid them about $6,000 to fill his front yard with a sea of marble rocks.
"I got tired of having to stay on top of it with water all the time," he said.
But as a crew began spreading the gravel and placing decorative boulders in front of his Emerald Hills home, a Hollywood code enforcement officer took issue with Mawardi's apparent lack of a green thumb and gave him a warning.
"He came flying in here to tell me I had to stop," recalled Mawardi. "I see houses with garbage outside and dirty roofs, and I am the one in trouble."
Mawardi went on with his lawn of stones, but is now stuck in code enforcement limbo while city officials search for a way to balance the appeal of green lawns against a new era of water restrictions.
Now, for the state statutes regarding Florida-friendly landscaping:
373.185 Local Florida-friendly landscaping ordinances.--The statute (373.185) goes on to say:
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) "Local government" means any county or municipality of the state.
(b) "Florida-friendly landscaping" means quality landscapes that conserve water, protect the environment, are adaptable to local conditions, and are drought tolerant. The principles of such landscaping include planting the right plant in the right place, efficient watering, appropriate fertilization, mulching, attraction of wildlife, responsible management of yard pests, recycling yard waste, reduction of stormwater runoff, and waterfront protection. Additional components include practices such as landscape planning and design, soil analysis, the appropriate use of solid waste compost, minimizing the use of irrigation, and proper maintenance.
(3) (a) The Legislature finds that the use of Florida-friendly landscaping and other water use and pollution prevention measures to conserve or protect the state's water resources serves a compelling public interest and that the participation of homeowners' associations and local governments is essential to the state's efforts in water conservation and water quality protection and restoration.Am I missing something? I don't understand what the City of Hollywood has to argue about. I happen to know one of the families personally and I can tell you I wish I could make my lawn look as pretty as theirs. They've successfully incorporated vegetables, native and drought-tolerant flowers, and fruit and nut trees into their edible xeriscaping. They feed their family of 12 from their edible yard. This is against the law? How long ago was it that Victory gardens were a sign of national pride and considered a duty?
(b) A deed restriction or covenant may not prohibit or be enforced so as to prohibit any property owner from implementing Florida-friendly landscaping on his or her land or create any requirement or limitation in conflict with any provision of part II of this chapter or a water shortage order, other order, consumptive use permit, or rule adopted or issued pursuant to part II of this chapter.
(c) A local government ordinance may not prohibit or be enforced so as to prohibit any property owner from implementing Florida-friendly landscaping on his or her land.
Here are some "lawn" statistics excerpted from a post I wrote a while back about grass lawns:
- Residential lawns comprise 23 million acres of land in the U.S.
- 58 million Americans spend $30 billion per year for lawn care.
- 270 billion gallons of water a week are used to water U.S. lawns. That's enough to water 81 million acres of organic vegetables for a summer.
- $5.25 billion per year is spent on fossil fuel-derived fertilizers for lawn care -- the majority of this ends up as pollution in our surface and groundwater, increasing our risk of cancer, heart disease and birth defects. Just switching to organic fertilizer and compost would eliminate a good part of this pollution.
- 580 million gallons of gasoline are used to mow lawns each year. A good chunk of this creates air pollution because of evaporation and another chunk pollutes our groundwater because of spillage.
- Running a gasoline-powered lawn mower for an hour produces pollution equivalent to driving a gas-powered car for 20 miles.
- 67 million pounds of synthetic pesticides are used in the upkeep of U.S. lawns each year, the majority polluting our surface and groundwater.
- $700 million is spent every year on those 67 million pounds of pesticides.
If you'd like to help these families out, please write to Mayor Peter Bober at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell him what you think. Nicely please, because we'd like to put a quick and definitive end to this craziness.