Las Vegas is a desert environment, no matter how hard we try to create a more lush looking landscape. The origination of the desire to transform a naturally dry and hot landscape into a lush and tropical looking space probably came from the casinos that began Las Vegas as we know it. These hotels and gambling halls wanted to lure Los Angeles residents to the town where they could legally gamble, and the “oasis in the desert” theme quickly took hold. By taking the entire concept of a dry and barren place that nobody would visit, and in the middle of it place a completely luxurious space where you will be pampered and feel like a millionaire, Las Vegas hotel owners sold their destinations as unique. As this concept grew, hotels began to actually create the theme realistically, importing plants and water features that would have absolutely no ability to survive in the natural climate, and defying logic by placing these things into a state of perpetual care. In order for them to stay alive for even more than a few days, artificial systems needed to be constructed that would not only supply adequate water, but also provide enough climate control and modification that the plants could withstand the sun. This feeling of being able to control the environment took hold in Las Vegas, and homeowners began to experiment with the options they could have in their own private spaces. They planted lawns and brought in palm trees and flowers that would have no ability to survive in the natural state, and supported them with watering systems that drew off the reserves of Lake Mead. This feel became the standard in Las Vegas for many years, and residents grew very accustomed to seeing green lawns and palm trees.
Over the course of the past 10 years or so, there has been less rainfall in the western United States than usual. This has caused the water levels in Lake Mead to drop dangerously low, and the main purpose of providing drinking water to not only Las Vegas but much of Southern California has become scrutinized. As the water levels drop to emergency status, there is no ability to guarantee that there would be enough drinking water for all residents, and as such the county has had to declare a state of emergency. This means that restrictions on the ways residents use water and the amounts of water they are allowed to use are imposed, making it so that you are only allowed to water your lawn on certain days and for certain time frames. This very well might not provide enough water to your lawn on hot summer days, causing it to get dry and even die, but the priority of drinking water must be considered over landscape watering. For this reason, the water authority encourages the removal of existing sod and the replacement with synthetic grass. There are rebates that are able to be secured if you apply for the program through the water authority and use a licensed contractor to do the job. These rebates can equal up to 2 dollars per square foot removed and replaced with a water smart ground covering. Consider water smart elements when you are landscaping your yard, be a good citizen and save money at the same time.