Los Angeles, like much of America, is lawn country. Americans don’t have a Theory of the Lawn (that’s too European), but they do have a feeling for it: what they want is “lushness”.
The story of lawns and lawn maintenance has everything to do with desire and aspiration. These ideals of beauty and civilization within the settler colonial context of the United States, complicate ideas and ideals of native and foreign, desire, upward social mobility and land ownership.
Lushness as a value, and it would seem to require the lawn to be healthy, rich, fulsome, full of life and urgently growing between your toes or lapping at the doorstep of your home is your castle.
But this same lushness is also a target of shame and shaming, of politics over water, and of emotions that are the opposite of lushness: austerity, stoicism, dryness and, if not death, at least a life that struggles to make do with what is scarce.
But this suggests that there are only two options: water-wasting lushness and austere water-saving xeriscapes. But never under-estimate how Americans order their values, and solve problems by making them worse.
Astroturf is the solution. Have your Lawn and save water too.