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Front Yard Landscaping

California's Drought

As we all know California is in the 4th year of a severe drought. In California, about half of the urban water is used for landscape irrigation. To comply with the Governor's Executive Order, the City of Turlock must reduce water use by 32%. Many residents are interested in reducing their water use and have contacted the Development Services Department to ask questions about modifying their front yard landscaping and paving.

This page is intended to provide homeowners with guidelines and resources if they want to modify their front yard landscaping.

Do I have to plant grass in my front yard?

The City does not require that your front yard be lawn. In fact, the City would prefer that homeowners choose drought tolerant landscapes as an alternative to lawns.

What do you mean by drought tolerant landscapes?

Drought tolerance refers to plants that are naturally adapted to arid, dry conditions and once established require minimal watering. Most drought tolerant plants are what are considered native plants in a particular region. They are the plants, shrubs, and trees that were here long before settlers came with other plants and gar-den hoses. You may have heard terms such as xeri-scaping, water-wise, dry landscaping or dry gardening all of which refer to using drought tolerant plants in your landscaping. A combination of materials can be used to produce an attractive waterwise front yard.

Like this...

Or this...

But not this!

Can't I just concrete my front yard?

While the City Code does not require that you have lawn in your front yard, there are limitations on how much paving you can have in your front yard.
  • The driveway cannot be wider than 30 feet
  • The driveway approach cannot occupy more than 40% of the property frontage
  • The paved area cannot occupy more than 55% of the total area of the front yard
  • Review and approval by the Planning Division prior to the work being done is required

There are many designs that can reduce the amount of thirsty turf-grass and include less water intensive plants while still providing an attractive front yard landscape. Your local nursery is a good starting point to inquire about native, drought tolerant plants and how to use them in your landscaping.

Other Useful Resources

Sunset Western Garden Book
EPA Watersense
California Native Plant Society

For more information about front yard landscaping requirements, please contact:

Planning Division
156 S. Broadway, Ste. 120
Turlock, CA 95380-5456
(209) 668-5640
Monday - Friday, 8AM - 5PM

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