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Hollywood looks at waterless lawns

Labor & Litigation

City takes issues with some residents' idea of xeriscaping; looks to retool its conflicting codes.

| July 15, 2010

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – It was early last spring that Joseph Mawardi decided he no longer wanted to keep up the greens.

Defeated in battling his brown and parched lawn, Mawardi hired a landscaping company and paid them about $6,000 to fill his front yard with a sea of marble rocks.

"I got tired of having to stay on top of it with water all the time," he said.

But as a crew began spreading the gravel and placing decorative boulders in front of his Emerald Hills home, a Hollywood code enforcement officer took issue with Mawardi's apparent lack of a green thumb and gave him a warning.

"He came flying in here to tell me I had to stop," recalled Mawardi. "I see houses with garbage outside and dirty roofs, and I am the one in trouble."

Mawardi went on with his lawn of stones, but is now stuck in code enforcement limbo while city officials search for a way to balance the appeal of green lawns against a new era of water restrictions.

Hollywood officials say they are looking at their own contradictory codes that encourage greenery rather than what Mawardi calls his brand of xeriscaping. That's a type of gardening or landscaping that eliminates the need for water.

"It's something that is now under review. Our code talks a little bit of xeriscaping, not so much xeriscaping using rocks, but more as it relates to xeriscaping using mulch and other types of products," says city spokeswoman Raelin Storey. "After we look at it, we might ultimately find that his xeriscaping might be too 'zeroscaping,' or maybe there's no problem with it at all."

The code enforcer issued Mawardi a "verbal warning" and his property was put in a database as having a "property standards" violation pending.

The city will not pursue any type of enforcement until the codes are updated, Storey said. City officials say the codes will likely be updated within the next six months.

Current city codes require that "live vegetative material shall provide complete coverage of the entire yard area exposed to public view." And a city "Landscaping Manual" from 2000 prescribes mainly using only Florida native plants and mulching as xeriscaping techniques.

Florida adopted a law last May that allows residents to install what's called "Florida-Friendly" landscaping without fear of legal repercussions. City officials say they plan to copy that law, which makes little mention of rock gardens.

Please visit the Sun-Sentinel to read the rest of this article.

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