Lake Forest landscaper adapts to statewide water cutbacks

YORBA LINDA, Calif. (KABC) -- With Gov. Jerry Brown's order to cut back water use by 25 percent, some landscaping companies say they must continue to adapt or lose business.

"We need to counsel our clients that we need to design landscapes that need less water and we need to manage the water better on the properties so people aren't wasting water," said Richard Cohen, owner of Richard Cohen Landscape & Construction.

Cohen, who's been in business nearly 40 years says he's overseeing more projects that require less grass, more drought tolerant plants and more hardscape.

Kay McNamara and her husband Bill worked with Cohen to make sure their landscape design at their new home in Yorba Linda included drought-tolerant plants, such as agave.

"Most of the backyard is cement, so we don't have to worry about that," McNamara said.

In Ladera Ranch, drip irrigation and native plants recently replaced grass medians. Officials say they expect to save two million gallons of water a year and several thousand dollars, not counting lower labor costs.

"You don't have crews coming through and mowing (and you have) much easier plants to maintain on an ongoing basis," said Ken Gibson, executive director of the Ladera Ranch Maintenance Corporation.

Cohen says the drought is creating business opportunities as more people replace grass with artificial turf and switch water guzzling landscapes with something more efficient.

"I think there's going to be so much opportunity to change all these old landscapes over that it's going to be a long time before we feel any pinch on business," Cohen said.

Cohen adds companies that don't change could suffer.

"Those people are going to have to be brought up to speed. They're going to have to start going to seminars and classes in order to learn," said Cohen. "It's going to force them to get better or they're going to end up out of business."

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