Business & Economy

No grassy lawn? No problem for more California homebuyers

A xeriscaped lawn in Palm Desert, California
A xeriscaped lawn in Palm Desert, California
Flickr user Nemo's Great Uncle/Creative Commons

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Not long ago, a nice home with a big, green lawn out front was iconic of the American dream.

Then a few years back, xeriscaping became a hot trend in Southern California. That's where the grass is ripped out and replaced with drought-tolerant plants like cacti and sage brush to conserve water.

But when buyers first saw that kind of yard, they turned up their noses.

"Most people would say peeee-yew!" says realtor Meredith McKenzie.

A yard is an important piece of curbside appeal, says the National Association of Realtors – it makes up the buyer's first impression. 

Xeriscaping was unusual at the time and made it a hard sell.

"But the era of the lush green lawn is over," says McKenzie.

As the drought continues, broker Ryan Flegal agrees that a yard that looks like the desert isn't the deterrent it once was in real estate.

"People look at the drought-tolerant gardens and they think, 'Oh wow, that's really cool!'" he says.

Local organizations like the Burbank Association of Realtors say more buyers – especially younger ones – are thinking this way too.

Flegal adds that some are starting to think of it as a selling point, like granite countertops.

"Having a garden that's going to save them water on their water bill? They think of that as a plus!"