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San Francisco's Ugly Yard Contest Promotes Water Conservation

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And while you're on social media, you can cast a vote for San Francisco's ugliest yard. It is a contest not started by a grouchy neighbor. It's actually sponsored by the city's Department of Environment to promote water conservation. Spokesman Guillermo Rodriguez says an ugly yard is a chance to reconsider what makes a yard beautiful.

GUILLERMO RODRIGUEZ: And beautiful to us is a yard that has native plants, can support biodiversity and are drought tolerant.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

That's the ideal - plants that don't need a ton of water. Lush, green lawns are fast going out of style here in bone-dry California. Ugly yard contestants are competing for a landscaping makeover with drought-tolerant plants. They've uploaded photos to the city's Facebook page. Ian Hart is one of them. He submitted a photo of what he calls his former lawn. Due to the drought, it's now mostly dirt and thorny weeds.

IAN HART: We would love to have a low-water makeover and have something that was both drought tolerant, but would also support our kids playing in the yard. And we've had a lot of funny comments from our neighbors, who are supporting us in our effort to have the city's ugliest lawn.

MONTAGNE: But Hart is up against some tough competition. Another contestant wrote - my yard is so ugly I don't even have to decorate on Halloween. It already looks scary. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.