Going green on a budget: 3 inexpensive ways to increase home efficiency

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  • Daniel Leifker San Francisco, CA
    Sept. 18, 2013 9:26 a.m.

    When I was a kid, I had a neighbor who got so tired of mowing his lawn that he tore out all the grass, poured in concrete, and painted it green. And it wasn't even a pleasant shade of green. I suppose it saved him time and money, but from the front his poor house looked like a gas station, and rumor had it that years later he sold the house only with enormous difficulty.

  • Baron Scarpia Logan, UT
    Sept. 18, 2013 7:30 a.m.

    It takes some thought about how to landscape without grass. Too often, xeriscaping brings to mind rocks, gravel beds, and "desert" designs that often are a turnoff.

    We did our yard with a minimum of grass using a super water-efficient dwarf tall fescue and rye seed mix for the small lawn area and lots of succulent ground cover plants that provide green and small flowers (e.g., eye candy) where traditional grass would be expected that require very little water.

    We also identified Utah native plants that mimic Italian ones (e.g., sky rocket junipers to mimic Cyprus trees), so the design is Italian in appeal, but xeriscaping in water needs.

    We also installed a mini-weather station in the yard that controls the irrigation system -- if it rains, the water stays off. If it is too hot, the water is increased. So far, it's been working quite well.

    Does this cost more than rolling out sod? Yes, but the lower lawn maintenance and reduced fertilizer and water bills will save money in the long run.

  • Particle Man Utah County, UT
    Sept. 17, 2013 1:19 p.m.

    I have also observed the connection between grass and aristocracies. To me, the ubiquity of grass, at least around homes, seems to imply the desire for a castle--and what have new homes been looking more and more like? I think the resources that grass requires are unjustifiable for many, if not most, people.

    Thus I prefer a modest home with sufficient space and land for my needs. And I would rather use the majority of my land for growing food and useful animals, such as chickens and goats, than for grass that is rarely used.

    And I recently learned about the site "John Saves Energy," by John Loveless, a Utah resident, whose passion is to increase energy efficiency, whether around the house or in gas-fueled vehicles. Some of his tips require less 'green' than the article discusses, others up to substantially more.