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California homeowner shares compelling before-and-after photos following yard renovation: 'How is it that even the house looks better?'

"I lost 15 pounds over the first summer, preparing the landscape for planting!"

"I lost 15 pounds over the first summer, preparing the landscape for planting!"

Photo Credit: Instagram

A homeowner has revealed the dramatic transformation they gave their Californian garden, turning it from a drab lawn into a biodiverse desert paradise. 

California's largest native botanic garden, California Botanic Garden (@californiabotanicgarden), shared before-and-after photos of Duncan Sinclair's revived Pasadena yard on Instagram.

Sinclair's yard was largely taken up by a monoculture lawn, with just a few potted plants shoring up the house beside it. 

The new photos show a cornucopia of wildflowers growing in the lawn's stead, with a "desert corner" on a raised bed where Sinclair has planted a cactus mix, Ocotillo, a Schott's Indigo Bush, and an Elderberry tree. 

After just three years of growth, Sinclair's garden is blooming vibrantly. California Botanic Garden notes that he largely rebuilt his yard from scratch, after ripping out most of the plants that had been growing on his property.

"I lost 15 pounds over the first summer, preparing the landscape for planting!" Sinclair told California Botanic Garden. 

With water an increasingly precious resource in southwestern states, Californian gardeners are being encouraged to rip out their manicured lawns and plant water-wise native plants.

In South Pasadena, residents can apply for up to a $1,200 rebate to purchase water-efficient plants, or $100 per native tree planted.

Similar programs are available in Tulare, Los Angeles, and for Cal Water residential customers. 

This move away from lawns is due to the gallons of water that they require to stay green. In California, outdoor watering accounts for roughly half of its total water use. 

One estimate says that the volume of water delegated to California's irrigation equals 84 inches of rainfall a year — roughly the same as that seen in the Amazon rainforest. 

Unlike lawns, native plants and grasses are uniquely adapted to California's dry environment, so they require far less water to survive. 

Households that replace their lawns with desert plants, like the Californian poppy, the palo verde tree, and Buffalo grass (native to the Central Plains), could see dramatic reductions in their water bills. 

They'll also see more visitors in their garden, including valuable pollinators like bees and butterflies. Without an abundance of flowers, lawns are a desert of their own for pollinating insects, who rely on diverse supplies of pollen to survive. 

Planting a variety of native plants can help to replenish dwindling pollinator numbers, whose reduced population is already impacting food production across the globe. 

Plus, a happier habitat is also a more colorful one, which will brighten up any old and tired backyards. 

"How is it that even the house looks better?" one Instagram user commented.

"Incredible transformation!" said another. "I love how the soil was built up and the river rock used on the bank to create visual interest."

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