It’s been a dry year for California. Water districts all over the state are geared up for drought conditions. The hills in the Orange County area are still golden-brown in mid-April. Last year at this time, they had finally turned green for spring.

Here’s a shot from the Irvine Spectrum area from April 6, 2006:

Street corner, facing a vacant lot covered with green grass, in front of green hills with a clutch of houses to the right.

That’s not a lawn behind that hedge, that’s a vacant lot. You can see it’s just as green as the strip of maintained grass along the sidewalk. Now here’s a picture taken about half a block away, taken last week, on April 6, 2007 (no, the timing was not intentional).

Same lot, from a different angle, all dry brown stubble.  The hills in the background, a bit fuzzy, are also light brown.

This year, only a few weeds and flowers have managed to take hold in the vacant lot. Meanwhile, the hills are their usual golden brown. Somehow, I don’t think we’re going to see much in the way of wildflowers this year. Continue reading

Well, I finally found out the reason for the Grass Under Renovation signs. I passed a median where a road crew was setting out what I first thought was sod, but then realized was Astroturf.

Nice one. I suppose it’ll save money on water and maintenance, but then so would painting the concrete green.

Couldn’t they just put in some native plants and leave them alone?