Drought Tolerant or Artificial Grass Lawn

Water Conservation

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Drought Tolerant or Artificial Grass Lawn

California may be out of its drought, but there is no guarantee things will remain this way. With a lack of rainfall, California is a perfect place to have a lawn that does not rely on water. Even if you love a classic grass lawn, perfect lawns are almost impossible to achieve hence why you see yellow and brown lawns all around the neighborhood. Drought tolerant and artificial grass lawns are two great alternatives that allow you to minimize water use while maximizing aesthetic appeal.

Drought Tolerant

Variety of plants that rely on little water including:

You can ask your local nursery about drought tolerant plants as well! Drought tolerant plants go great with hardscape designs. Hardscape has a lot of flexibility and allows you to tailor your yard in several ways. Hardscape has become more and more popular due to its aesthetic appeal and practicality.

Artificial Turf


  • No watering, mowing, or feeding while still maintaining traditional front lawn grass look.
  • Life expectancy can be upwards of 25 years making investment worth it in long term.
  • New artificial grass can often fool most into looking like real grass.


  • Provide no food or habitat for local birds or insects. Biological zero meaning you are not promoting biodiversity.
  • Feel is just not the same as regular grass.
  • Often made with recycled materials but not biodegradable.

Wintering Up Your Yard

Christmas is right around the corner meaning we are just reaching the peak of winter, and this colder weather is here to stay for a while. With that being said, there are a few changes we recommend you make to your yard in order to prepare it for winter. In this blog, we will cover a few of those changes that we make that will just help your yard and house function properly during these next few months.


Turn Your Sprinklers off with Rain

This one seems to become more and more important every year as we get further into the drought. Depending on the amount of rain you may be able to shut your sprinklers off for a few days or a few weeks or months. However, you just want to ensure you check the weather and water your lawn and plants the minimal amount over these next few months. This will not only save you money, but will help in fighting a future drought.


Flush Out Drains and Gutters

With all the leaves falling your drains and gutters can often get clogged. This is not really a problem until it starts to rain and your gutters cannot drain the water. Now we do not have heavy amounts of rain here so odds are your house may be fine without this change, but if heavy amounts of rain were to happen clogged gutters could cause damage to wood, foundation, and landscaping. Unclogging your drains and gutters is an easy process that takes a few quick minutes, and it would be a shame if your house got damaged because you forgot to spend a few minutes flushing out your drains and gutters. Don’t feel safe doing it yourself, then recruit a neighbor kid for a few extra bucks.

Put Solar Lily Pads on to Conserve Water

Even though the sun is not out and shining as often your pool water is still constantly evaporating. This is why you want to put your solar lily pads on your pool in order to conserve water and prevent evaporation. In addition, these pads can help heat your pool and have it ready if you ever want to take a warm late night swim. After all, nobody wants to swim in a cold pool during the winter months. If you still do not own lily pads and are interested in what they are then check out this article. If you interested in purchasing some then simply shoot us back an email and we’ll be glad to set you up.


These are just a few of the yearly changes we make to our yard and house to ensure we are ready for winter. These changes take a matter of minutes but can make a big difference in your water usage and spending. Luckily, we all live in Southern California and wintertime is not really “wintertime”. If we were on the East coast we would have to drain our pools and actually prepare for the winter. Thus, always be thankful for this awesome Southern California weather!

California Drought Update from a Swimming Pool Perspective

Have you noticed photos of the wildflowers blooming this spring after the amazingly wet season after the recent 6-year long California Drought? We have seen the news reports and the photos all over our social media feeds. On April 7, 2017, California Governor Brown terminated the January 17, 2014 Drought State of Emergency impacting all but Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Tuolumne counties. California residents successfully conserved water in unprecedented levels, reducing water use in communities by 22% between 2014 and 2017.


Throughout the drought many counties and municipalities enacted swimming pool permit restrictions in an effort to conserve water; however, luckily, we weren’t affected by these restrictions in our local area.


In fact, residential swimming pool and spa owners are already conserving water compared to a conventional backyard. Swimming pools use less water than the same square footage of a lawn and if you add in a pool deck area, rather than grass, the water savings are increased.  Drought resistant/tolerant landscaping with native plants adds even more water conservation.


According to the California Pool & Spa Association, you can continue to do your part to conserve water in the following ways:


If you own a pool:

  • Install a pool cover to reduce water evaporation by as much as 90%
  • Shut off waterfalls, fountains and other water features to reduce water loss and evaporation
  • Check the pool for leaks, contact your pool service professional for guidance.
  • Minimize splashing or lower the pool’s water level to reduce “splash out.”
  • Plug the overflow line when the pool is in use.
  • Replace traditional sand and DE Filters with cartridge filters that do not require backwashing.
  • Keep your pool clean to reduce frequency of backwashing.
  • If your pool is heated, reduce the water temperature to reduce evaporation.


If you own spa:

  • Keep it covered.
  • Maintain the chemicals to extend water life.
  • Check the equipment for leaks.
  • Drain only when absolutely necessary.
  • Check with your pool service professional for new technology that helps keep the water clean and reduce the need to drain the spa.
  • If you drain your spa, reuse the water to irrigate plants and landscaping.


If you have any questions about the current condition of your pool/spa and landscaping, we are happy to meet and discuss your water conservation opportunities.


El Niño Won’t Solve the Drought – Saving Water Will

El Niño is upon us! Can’t you tell by the 3 extra days it rained this year?
El Niño? More like El Busto!

We’re in a drought. So it’s time all of us Southern Californians sucked it up and faced it: El Niño won’t solve the drought – saving water will. El Niño is a weather phenomenon which is caused by a warming of waters in the Pacific Ocean and causes massive rain showers across the west coast of North and South America. While rain and snowstorms did increase this year in California, it was nowhere near the realm of massive and it would have needed to rain 2.5-3 times as much to even begin ending the drought. Aquifers and rivers remain dry as farmers and residents continue to cope with various methods of saving water, and as Julian Emile-Geay, a paleoclimatologist at USC, said, El Niño was merely a “band-aid on a gaping wound.”

Now we must all face the facts and limit consumption if we ever want our children and grandchildren to see green grass again in California. Some call for desalination and various ways to recycle water, but money doesn’t grow on trees, people. And others are pointing fingers at farmers because about 40 percent of water consumption in California is used for agriculture. But for crying out loud: they’re farmers, what do you want them to do quit their jobs and stop feeding us? It’s time we all get the facts through our sun tanned faces and bleach-blonde hair – El Niño isn’t going to save the drought. El Niño may have brought us a few good waves over the year, but the less-than-spectacular rainfall means we’re going to have to suck it up and save. We have the best weather of any place in the country; I think we should all be able to be appreciative and give up some water here and there.

Water Wise – How to Save Water Inside Your Home

In our last two emails we hit two large water consumers, swimming pools and landscaping, and explained how you can minimize water waste. Those two water consumers were based outdoors and now we’ll move on to how you can save water indoors.
Some of you spend a majority of your time in the home, so it comes as no surprise that a large portion of your water consumption is within the household. One of the easiest methods of cutting back on water waste in the home is to upgrade to water saving devices, but let’s face it those upgrades cost money. So while getting rid of that ten year old dishwasher will save water, there are also many other ways to save water and you can check out a couple of those below.
Water Savings Tips for Inside Your Home
  • Check for Leaks
    • Water leaks can often be hard to spot but these small leaks add up over time.
    • You can check your water meter before and after a two-hour period during which no water was used in order to ensure that your house has no leaks.
  • Take Shorter Showers
    • It’s easier said than done, but shorter showers are one of the easiest ways to save water. Watch this Navy Shower PSA to learn more.
  • Only Use Your Dishwasher and Washing Machine for Full Loads
    • Full loads ensure that you are getting the most use out of the amount of water used.
    • If you wish to do less than full loads, see if your washer has the ability to adjust water use to the size of the load of laundry.
  • Invest in Water Wise Appliances
    • All appliances that use water have been better designed to consume less water over the past few years such as your dishwasher, washing machine, and also faucets/showerheads.
We hope these tips will help you cut down your monthly water bill and save water.

Water Wise – How to Save Water with Your Landscaping

We here at Sunset pride ourselves on being as water efficient as possible, so we thought it would be best to share some of our landscaping water savings wisdom with our clients and friends.

When looking to conserve water you need to look at the total water consumption of a residential property.
Everybody seems to know that landscaping consumes a majority of a household’s water, yet people are hesitant to get rid of their grass and lush plants because they fear their yard will look barren without it. In actuality, restructuring your yard to make it more drought tolerant is simple and often times the ‘Outdoor Living’ will end up looking better than it did before. If you need an example just check out my house below and if you want to know what drought tolerant solutions are available for your yard just give me a call at (562) 881-6000. If you still aren’t hooked on remodeling your ‘Outdoor Living’ then check out a few simple tips below that will help to save water without a major reconstruction of your yard.
Water Savings Tips for Landscaping
  • Reposition and Re-time Your Sprinklers
    • How often do you walk by a house and see their sprinklers on in the middle of the day? You should water your lawn in the early morning or at night in order to prevent excessive evaporation and thus conserve water.
    • How often do you walk by a house and see the water from the sprinklers draining straight into the gutter? Sprinklers should be positioned so that the water lands on the plants and not the hardscape and paved areas.
    • Try slowly cutting back on the number of times you water a week or the duration of each watering to see which plants thrive and which ones do not. It’s up to you to decide to keep the delicate ones or replace them with something more drought tolerant.
  • Add Organic Matter and Mulch Around Trees and Plants
    • The addition of mulch or organic matter can help slow evaporation of moisture from soil and plants. It also allows these plants to better retain water.
    • This also adds the needed nutrients for the plants to thrive on less water.
  • Recycle Water from Other Areas of the Household
    • Try watering your plants with that half drunken glass of water or putting a bucket in the shower to collect the cold water.
    • If you’re really persistent you can try putting a barrel underneath your rain gutter to collect rainwater and use it at a later, during a more arid time.
  • Install Artificial Lawn
    • I’m not much into plastic anything these days; however, I will say that artificial turf as improved drastically. It looks more real than ever with various heights, textures and colors.
    • An artificial lawn will greatly reduce the overall water usage of a property based on how much lawn you removed.

Water Wise – How to Save Water with Your Pools & Spas

Due to our specialization in pools and spas, we here at Sunset make it a top priority to be water efficient with our current drought situation.

Some people have a preconceived idea that pools and spas are a huge water waste, but we already debunked that myth. Now we want to share some ideas with our customers about how to cut back on water use and cut that water bill down as your water provider is demanding you to do.

It seems like pools and spas always get a bad reputation in regards to water consumption, but in truth they consume significantly less water than grass and most plants. You need to look at the total water consumption of a residential property. The first of three parts we will share our wisdom on is about pools and spas. Pool and spa water waste can also be greatly reduced through a few simple steps mentioned below.

Water Savings Tips for Pools & Spas

  • Check for leaks
    • You can check for leaks by performing a simple bucket test. Please check out this video I put together for you to gain more information on how to perform a bucket test.
    • If you do find a leak feel, free to contact us at (562) 881-6000.
  • Adjust your pool pump and filter backwash
    • A variable speed pump can run at a lower speed for a longer period of time. This saves electricity and less agitation to the water surface thus less evaporation and less water loss.
    • Overusing the backwash to clean your filter is a waste of water. You can clean your filter by hand or you may want to consider a newer filter that has greater capacity and less flow restriction that will require fewer cleanings and less electricity too.
  • Use a pool cover
    • We know what you’re thinking, “You want me to put an ugly pool cover on my pool?!” However, we want to assure you that there are non-ugly pool covers out there and you can find some at www.poolsupplies.com.
    • Pool covers reduce evaporation by 90 to 95% and can save you up to 7,000 gallons a year.

Pool covers also reduce the need for chemicals, reduce algae growth, and conserve heat thus saving more money while also maintaining a more comfortable pool temperature.

Please Don’t Pick on the Pool Builder

pool builderIt appears that in the County of Orange and other far-off regions, some people are jumping to ridiculous conclusions about the drought and shortage of water.

Many of us are also concerned; however, I don’t feel it is fair to pick on the pool builder and the consumer who wants to enjoy a swimming pool. Yes, on the surface it seems like a swimming pool uses a lot of water. Of course we certainly do not want to waste water, so be sure your pool doesn’t have a leak, a pretty obvious issue. Beyond a possible leak, when you think about the water consumption per square foot on a piece of property, you have many other culprits which are much bigger wasters of water. The biggest culprit is your luscious green Marathon II sod lawn. This lawn uses much more water per square foot on your property than any other item except for maybe your toilet and shower. I believe the lawn and landscaping needs more attention than the swimming pool.
We did some research and found out that the per square foot evaporation rate of a swimming pool at an average temperature of 75 degrees is almost half of what it takes to maintain a Marathon II sod lawn. But, this doesn’t take into account the area around a pool known as decking which is either a concrete or other hard surface which requires no water. If you take the square footage of your swimming pool and decking area into account, you will likely see about 50% or less consumption of water compared to a lawn with landscaping.
I believe we all need to tighten up our water saving belt. As a pool builder, have done this by planting drought tolerant landscaping around my backyard pool. I have also removed my front lawn and replaced it with hard stone and drought tolerant succulents to greatly reduce my water consumption.
This is Southern California and I love being able to splish-splash in my swimming pool. I don’t want to feel guilty about enjoying my swimming pool and I don’t want others to feel guilty either.
To follow we will send out a series of emails to help you be more Water Wise. These emails will include water savings tips for:
  • Pools and Spas
  • Landscaping
  • Inside Your Home
Please contact us if you need help tightening your water belt. Give us a call at (562) 881-6000.
pool builderI enjoy helping Southern California residents to elevate their outdoor living. We have ideal weather–why not make the best of Southern California living?
Cheers, JZ
P.S. I’m still hopeful for El Niño to help refill our water reservoirs, but we all need to save water together.

El What??? El Niño!

El Niño! It’s no surprise that we’re in a drought; however, many people are unaware of the upcoming event named El Niño. You may have heard of this phenomenon in movies like “Chasing Mavericks” because El Niño is known to cause massive waves, but El Niño is also likely to bring in a wave of much needed rain to the Southwest.

What causes El Niño?

El Niño is a weather phenomenon that is caused by the warming of tropical waters off the coasts of South America. This rarity occurs every 2-7 years as the trade winds weaken and even reverse causing warm water to flow eastward rather than the typical westward direction. This flow of warm water is very minimal and causes a temperature rise of only about 1 degree Fahrenheit along the equator, but the impacts of this temperature change are significant. The warmer water expands and causes sea level to rise anywhere from 6 to 13 inches, the colder water is unable to rise to the surface and wreaks havoc for fishing crops on the eastern coast of South America which rely on cold water, the jet stream drops further south due to low pressure and stronger storms causing larger waves right here in Southern California, and finally rainfall increases dramatically along the west coast of North and South America. In summary, El Niño is beneficial to us through the increase in rainfall and sizes of waves, but damaging to South America, as they are struck with severe storms, and Asia, as they suffer from harsh droughts.

So no more drought?


Yes and no. El Niño means that we will likely be receiving a larger amount of rainfall, but this in no way means the drought is over. El Niño’s impact on rainfall is largely oscillatory meaning that it is never the same. Climatologists predict the upcoming El Niño will result in an increase in rainfall, but in truth they have little to no idea. This means that we could have anywhere from one to ten extra inches of rainfall which sounds nice but is not that beneficial in the long run. Thus, regardless of the upcoming El Niño’s effects, we will remain in a drought for years to come and the only way to solve this is through cutbacks on consumption. No single person can solve this drought – instead we have to work together and minimize water waste as a whole. I don’t know about you, but we here at Sunset sure are excited about the upcoming El Niño, but by no means does this mean that we are going home and taking 30 minute showers while we leave the sink running. During a drought every drop counts.