In order to conserve water, the City of Downey encourages replacing your existing lawn with drought tolerant landscaping. However, the City of Downey's codes require that the entire front and street side yards (except approved driveways and walkways) must be landscaped with a live plant material. The key factor is that you have a complete ground cover. The County of Los Angeles has prepared guidelines to assist residents with planting drought tolerant landscaping. The City of Downey prepared a drought tolerant landscaping guide as well. Copies of the Los Angeles County and the City of Downey guidelines can be found here. There are a variety of drought tolerant ground covers that will fill in the front yard to meet the City's codes and achieve your goal to reduce water consumption. Some of the typical drought tolerant ground covers can include:
Carmel Creeper (Ceanothus griseus horizontalis)
Seaside Daisy (Erigeron glaucus) Silver Carpet (Dymondia margaretae)
Trailing Ice Plant
(Delosperma) Of course, there are many other plants you may choose from. Please consult your nursery for additional options. Two things you want to keep in mind when planting a drought tolerant front yard:There should be no visible dirt or bark within 2 months of planting. This is typically achieved by planting ground cover plants close enough to fill in. Drought tolerant plants are not maintenance free. Be sure to keep them properly trimmed and free from weeds. Please remember if you add hardscape (cement, pavers, or similar) or a new sprinkler system you are required to obtain a permit. If you have any questions, please contact the Planning Division at (562) 904-7154. Good luck with your project.