Finally, I have a schedule for converting our water hungry ex-lawn into a xeriscape. Somehow, if I can write things down as a nice little list of things to do, then I can get it done. We've decided to replace most of the lawn area with low-water buffalo and blue grama grass. This will also involve some levelling of the yard, adding rock to the edge near the wall and planting lots more xeric plants.
As expected, the toughest part about this project is removing the existing (mostly dead) grass in order to put in the low-water grass. Even xeric plants require daily water when they are first put into the ground, which can revive the dead lawn. So here's the rather anti-intuitive grass replacement plan that has been recommended:
1) Water the yard daily until the grass greens and the weeds sprout. I started today and will continue this for the next 2 weeks.
2) Kill grass and weeds with Roundup (there are arguments for and against the environmental friendliness of this chemical) and wait a couple of weeks for roots and everything to decompose.
3) Rototill all the dead stuff under, and add compost.
4) Plant the new grass and water it.
The ironic part about this is that I was going to replace the grass two summers ago while I was unemployed. So we stopped watering the grass in order to kill it, but then it rained every day in July which completely re-greened the lawn. At that point it seemed like too much work to try to kill a thriving lawn. Now it turns out that I have to revive the grass anyway, because you can't kill dormant grass.
Spending this many hours doing yard work has never been my cup of tea. However, this year I haven't been rock climbing at all. So I decided that I'll finish the xeriscaping which will give me plenty of outdoors exercise instead of rock climbing this summer. It's also a good diversion from all the hours I spend sitting indoors. Once it's all done, I can enjoy my low-maintenance yard and do more exciting outdoors stuff.