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Cemeteries Finding Balance For Landscaping During Drought

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Cemeteries are trying to balance saving water and keeping up the appearance of a loved one's final resting place.

Travis Greer says the drought is tapping out the serenity and ambiance around his late fiancee's gravesite.

"She's worth more than this," he said. "Everybody is trying to conserve and I understand that. And yet, there's something in my mind that my loved one needs to be respected and I don't see that being respected."

With more than 30 acres, some 27,000 people are interred at Sierra Hills Cemetery. But keeping the grass green while conserving hasn't been easy, says Lisa West.

"We have a responsibility to families to keep the cemetery looking nice at all times, so we have a challenge ahead of us," she said.

That challenge means the cemetery restricts watering to 30 minutes a day, every other day, turns off fountains, does irrigation system audits and alters its appearance with rock gardens, bark and other drought-resistant landscaping in place of grass.

"We're still trying to accommodate the governor's mandates and so we are definitely cutting back. We've cut back a total of 65 percent since 2013," she said.

But she admits there are still areas of parched grass groundskeepers are trying to address by hand.

"We call it spot watering and they'll put out a hand sprinkler, a small portable sprinklers a couple times a day to make sure it gets covered," she said.

Visitor Gail Laxo finds the less than lush surroundings still acceptable around her mother's headstone.

"It looks really good. I'm impressed," she said. "I'm surprised, because I expected to come out and see it a little browner."

But for Greer, the crunchy patch of perpetuity only adds insult to loss.

"I think their sprinkler system needs to be readjusted to take care of this area. Or re-sod it or something," he said. "When you pay this—thousands of dollars, why's it got to end up like this?"

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