Extreme weather and home landscaping plans

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Extreme weather and water shortages are convincing people to change their home landscaping plans, leading to fewer lush yards but more long-term benefits for homeowners.

After the severe water shortages in California, water usage restrictions have gone into effect for homeowners in certain parts of the state. In Texas, homeowners have seen the devastation that can come from the opposite problem: flash floods from too much rainfall. These recent weather patterns are forcing property owners to react to changing water conditions in their neighborhoods.

Home design and remodeling firm Houzz has released its 2015 Landscaping and Garden Trends Study, which surveyed 1,600 homeowners who completed an outdoor project in the last year, are currently undertaking an outdoor project or plan to start one in the next six months.

The results show that homeowners are already starting to drastically change their landscaping designs to cope with regular extreme weather.

In Texas, 47 percent of the homeowners surveyed cited flooding as a top challenge for their property. Nationwide, flooding and drainage issues were by far the most common challenge addressed by urban, suburban and rural property owners alike.

Meanwhile, seven out of 10 homeowners in California listed drought and water shortages as top challenges for their landscape projects. These were the second most frequently-cited challenges, behind flooding issues, for urban and suburban properties nationwide. For rural properties, erosion was also a major concern.

In order to cope with these common water problems, homeowners are making smart upgrades and using replacements for their traditional landscaping choices.

In rural areas, 25 percent of all outdoor property upgrades included the installation of a rainwater harvesting system, although that number fell below 20 percent in urban areas and below 15 percent in the suburbs.

One other result is that drought-resistant planting has become a hot trend. Nationwide, 42 percent of newly-added plants were rated as drought-resistant, while over half of all surveyed homeowners were either reducing or completely removing their lawns.

In California alone, 85 percent of surveyed homeowners were reducing or removing their lawns, with nearly half of all projects involving a total lawn removal.

While this may not be what you imagined for your dream home, if you’re a Californian, tearing up your lawn and replacing it with drought-resistant plants seems to have quickly become the smart choice for a lot of homeowners.

And nationwide, more and more homeowners are learning to pay closer attention to how local water conditions affect their landscaping choices.


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About Ilyce Glink

Author of 13 books, including the bestselling 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask. Writer of the nationally syndicated column, “Real Estate Matters.” Top-rated radio host in Atlanta. Writer for CBS MoneyWatch.com. Managing editor of the Equifax Personal Finance Blog.
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