The green, green grass of home not only inspired a song, but it is a traditional fixture of suburbia.
In Windsor, that?s about to change as a result of new landscaping guidelines designed to make those thirsty front lawns obsolete.
The Town Council on Wednesday is poised to adopt an ordinance that essentially prohibits front-yard turf in new subdivisions of five or more homes.
The move follows another dry summer that led to water conservation measures in many North Bay communities, including Windsor.
Those lush lawns may look attractive, but they ?take a tremendous amount of water to sustain and maintain over years of ownership of a home,? said Town Manager Matt Mullan.
A divided Town Council last week voted 3-2 to introduce a ?water efficient landscape? ordinance intended to significantly restrict the amount of grass that gets planted with new homes and office parks.
The ordinance, which is up for adoption with a second council vote on Wednesday, states that turf will not be allowed in residential subdivisions ?where backyard landscape is not developer installed.?
Since developers these days typically do not landscape the backyards of subdivision homes, that effectively precludes turf in the front.
?The council wanted to make sure if they were only to do front landscaping, turf would be prohibited,? said Mullan.
He noted that it?s not an outright prohibition on grass lawns. ?It?s discouraging turf in front of homes and trying to get people to realize there are other alternatives that are more sustainable,? he said.
For Councilwoman Debora Fudge those alternatives are ?like my yard ? put in (wood) chips and lavender plants and drought-tolerant grasses.?
She said homebuyers will still have the option of installing turf in their backyards as a spot for their children to play.
She joined council members Sam Salmon and Robin Goble in voting for the new ordinance.
?Turf has curbside appeal. But it comes with a price,? said Salmon. He said water rates in Windsor will likely ?skyrocket. The only way to have consistent rates is conservation.?
And he said it does not make sense to plant turf in new subdivisions at the same time the town has a ?cash for grass? program in which it pays homeowners $2.50 per square foot to take out their lawns.
But Councilman Steve Allen said he could not support the new policy because ?there will be instances where sod in the front may be the only place where it?s appropriate.?
And Councilwoman Cheryl Scholar said an educational approach is more effective in getting people to conserve water, or ?protect our resources.?
?We?re really quick toward tightening the screws,? she said. ?I?m not comfortable that we have to tell people what to do and make them do the right thing.?
The ordinance also limits the planting of turf to mostly level ground to avoid grass mounds that are tricky to irrigate and prone to run-off.
In drought-conscious California, the state years ago passed legislation with guidelines to conserve water for landscape irrigation. But it also gave local communities the option to approve tighter standards.
Santa Rosa since 1992 has given developers a water budget that effectively limits the amount of lawn they can put in.
Mullan said that landscape irrigation is responsible for huge spikes in water consumption, with water use easily doubling and tripling in July and August compared with the winter months.