Plenty. Here’s proof.

How Much Water Can You Save By Removing the Lawn?
Photograph by Lisa Romerein

Santa Monica-based landscape designer Susanne Jett ( specializes in beautiful yet water-wise gardens like the front yard pictured above, which is filled with permeable paving and unthirsty plants. She also monitored two trial gardens for years, with amazing results.

Admirably green, but wasteful. Photo by Thomas J. Story


To prove that the right garden could result in measurable, significant, long-term savings, the City of Santa Monica invited Jett to design two adjacent residential-size front yards, each about 1,900 square feet. One had traditional lawn and thirsty plants, watered by sprinklers.


This is more like it. Photo by Tyson Ellis

The other garden featured low-water California natives, including Ceanothus and salvias, irrigated as needed by drip irrigation. After nine years of gathering data from these two gardens, Jett found the results even more dramatic than she expected. Over the nine-year period, the lawn-and-sprinklers yard used 703,813 gallons of water. The natives-and-drip garden used 130,438 gallons of water—a savings of 573,375 gallons! Plus, the native garden provided a habitat for birds, butterflies, bees, and beneficial insects. If that’s not enough to sway you toward water-smart gardening, consider this: The native garden took 167 fewer hours to tend than lawn!