The death of the American lawn?

Paul Ramirez waters the front lawn at his home on St. Louis Street in Boyle Heights.
Paul Ramirez, 54, waters the front lawn at his home on St. Louis Street in Boyle Heights as his dog Bandit, a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier, jumps for joy. Ramirez said the lawn was originally put in by his grandfather, Eugene Ramirez, who bought the home in 1958.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Paul Ramirez cares for his little patch of Americana with the reverence of a master gardener. He had to, or face the wrath of his grandfather from 800 miles away.

Grandpa Eugene planted the Boyle Heights lawn about 60 years ago. He cared so much about the greenery that after he moved to El Paso, Texas, he would call friends to check on it. When told it wasn’t looking good, he immediately would call family into action.

At age 9, Paul was put in charge of keeping the lawn green; he has been in charge ever since. He is now 54 years old.

It’s going to be a long, hot summer for the Southern California lawn, the little squares of green that have long knitted together neighborhoods. Lawns played such a crucial role during the pandemic, bringing people together for evening social circles (six feet apart), for backyard barbecues, for a game of catch or running with the family pet.

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With many Southern California communities now on limited watering schedules, the lush emerald green grasses, the summery smells of fresh lawn clippings, the cool blades squiggling between our toes — all will give way to crispy, dusty lots of dying fescue.

Southern California is still searching for a water cure. Whether it’s more reservoirs or expensive desalination, one thing is for certain — it’s going to be a summer of brown grass and hard choices.

Ignacio Rivas waves to his neighbor and her grandchildren
Ignacio Rivas, 81, seated in the frontyard of his home in Pasadena, waves to his neighbor Angela Covey, 71, walking with her dog Samson, a boxer, and her grandchildren, from left, Ireland Covey, 14, Blaise Covey, 11, and Locklan Covey, 11.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Eddie Vasquez waters his front lawn
Eddie Vasquez, 61, waters the front lawn of his home on Thomas Street in Lincoln Heights. Vasquez said he waters once a week. He has the American flag out in honor of the victims of 9/11 and also because of his nephew, who joined the Marines.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Erick Garcia and his sister Aryanna play on the front lawn of their home.
Erick Garcia, 2, and his sister Aryanna, 6, play on the front lawn of their home on Folsom Street in East Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A sculpture casts a shadow on the front lawn of a home on June Street in Hancock Park.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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At left, animal sculptures on a lawn. At right, red chairs on a lawn.
Animal sculptures are part of the decor in the frontyard of a home on Yale Street in Santa Monica. Chairs provide a splash of red on a lawn on Hillslope Street in Studio City.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Beatrice Johnston photographs a cat.
Beatrice Johnston photographs Lincoln, a cat belonging to her daughter, Janelle Love, in Van Nuys.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Leo Granas, 1, runs toward his father, Ben Granas.
Leo Granas, 1, runs toward his father, Ben Granas, 32, on June Street in Hancock Park.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Sonia Rivera works on landscaping
Sonia Rivera works on landscaping next to the front lawn of her home on Folsom Street in East Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Sonia Rivera and her husband Omar add moisturizing soil around plants growing next to the front lawn of their home
Sonia Rivera and her husband, Omar, add moisturizing soil around plants at their home in East Los Angeles. The moisturizing soil helps to retain water so less is needed to keep the plants alive.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Jay Bass, 6, rolls over and over while playing on a front lawn
Jay Bass, 6, rolls over and over while playing outside his home on Moreno Avenue in Brentwood. In the background is his mother, Sasha Bass, 38.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Juyoun Kwon and her husband, Seth Kwon, walk with their dog.
Juyoun Kwon, 33, her husband, Seth Kwon, 35, and their dog Bear, a mini poodle mix, walk past a home on Muirfield Road in Hancock Park.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Baseball themed statues and a green lawn are part of the landscaping in front of a home on Arden Dr. in Beverly Hills.
Baseball themed statues and a green lawn are part of the landscaping in front of a home on Arden Drive in Beverly Hills.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A jogger runs by homes with green lawns on Rose Avenue in Mar Vista.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Jose Felix, 32, waters the front of his home on 84th Street in Los Angeles.
Jose Felix, 32, waters the front of his home on 84th Street in Los Angeles. With him is his dog, Hinata, an Australian cattle dog.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
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Janelle Love carries a cardboard box of items for sale
Janelle Love of Van Nuys puts away items that didn’t sell after holding a yard sale at her home on Blucher Avenue in Van Nuys.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Rich Morrell pushes a lawn mower
Rich Morrell, 76, mows the lawn of his home on Chester Avenue in Pasadena, where he has lived for the last 41 years.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
At left, a newly installed drought tolerant garden. At right, a woman teaches her grandson to walk.
At left, Alberto Campos adjusts a sprinkler that is part of a newly installed drought-tolerant garden that used to be all grass in front of a home on Holliston Avenue in Pasadena. At right, Benita Perez, 55, teaches her grandson Nevaeh Perez how to walk in front of their apartment on Thomas Street in Lincoln Heights.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A pedestrian and her dog walk past a home with fake grass.
A pedestrian and her dog walk past a home with fake grass on Wellworth Avenue in West Los Angeles.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
Ignacio Guerrero, 65, sweeps leaves off the front lawn of his home
Ignacio Guerrero, 65, sweeps leaves off the front lawn of his home on Maidstone Avenue in Norwalk, where he has lived for more than 40 years.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)
A cat named Lincoln sits on the front lawn of a home in Van Nuys.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)