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Drought Resistant Turf & Landscaping Alternatives for El Niño

Project Planning
January 16, 2016

Orange County, CA residents Michael Demoratz and Lindbergh McPherson are the proud owners of Wilcox Manor, a historical home in Tustin, CA. They used the HERO Program to finance artificial turf, which will provide benefits whether the rains are scarce or torrential. Says Michael of their water conservation landscaping makeover, “We love it and we can’t believe that we waited so long to do it!”

Nearly 4,000 square feet of turf was installed by HERO contractor Artificial Grass Contractors of Southern California, making Wilcox Manor the largest residential turf upgrade in the city of Tustin and possibly one of the largest in Orange County. That equates an estimated 140,000 – 220,000 gallons of water saved per year! So far, their water bill savings have been to the tune of about $150 a month.

Wilcox Manor, a historical home in Tustin, CA


The home was built about 1880, but is about as energy and water efficient as can be.

“We’ve tried to use all the modern technology,” explains Lindbergh. “LED lighting, solar, ductless air conditioning system – and now artificial turf.”

Over the last few years, the couple has raised about $750,000 for various charities at events held on the property, which is made possible by also hosting weddings. All guests, brides, and neighbors have had a very positive reaction to the turf, many believing it was real grass before being told otherwise.

Homeowners checking out the new artificial turf


Although California is expected to experience ongoing drought in the long term, periods of heavy rains are expected at times as well. The couple explains that rain showers used to cause large puddles in the grass, resulting in soft spots and ruts. Now, explains Michael, “The water’s going to go right through because it’s been designed to drain the water right through… we anticipate that the day after it rains it’d be easy to walk on without any problem.”

He adds, “We’ve created something in the backyard that could be permanent, and it could be managed at any time – whether there’s no rain or we’re inundated with rain, it’s going to be perfect!”

Here are some ideas for water saving landscaping.

Homeowners Michael and Lindbergh showing their property tax statements


Lindbergh explains that using HERO made it an easy decision financially due to the way the program is structured with no upfront costs, and with payments spread as a property tax assessment. He admits he applied in his pajamas and it only took a few minutes!

The couple says they’re very happy to do their part to keep Orange County water efficient and water conscious. Concludes Michael, “We want to share that so other people can kind of get on the band wagon.”

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