http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifLawns are wrong - especially out here in the west where we should have a beautiful golden straw colored-environment during the summer months. All these transplants from greener places are trying to recreate the green-ness that they are used to, in an environment that it does not belong in. Why can't they enjoy the green in the winter, and enjoy our golden California summers?
Out here in the west, they use up all of our fresh water, polute run-off with harmful chemicals and honestly, in my opinion, just do not fit into a California/southwest landscape. Sure they have their uses, soccer is a little hard to play on gravel... but the amount a typical lawn owner actually uses their lawn doesn't justify the harm they cause.
If you have a lawn - and just can't let go of the green sea, replace it with more water-friendly alternatives.
If you absolutely need a turf area in your yard, really analyze how much of that lawn you actually use, and replace the outer sections that you aren't using with some planting beds for native plants that use less water.
Another way to keep your grass green and healthy is to not cut it shorter than 3", cutting it too short can strain the lawn and cause the tips to brown or to die back completely.
There have been great advances made in turf grass itself, with types that use less water, and are more adapted to dry environments. Check out some of these new grasses http://www.lawncare.net/drought-resistant-grass/
here are some great tips for healthier, greener, eco-friendly lawn care http://www.grinningplanet.com/2006/03-07/lawn-care-tips-article.htm
If you don't use your lawn a whole lot but want the look of a lawn without using water-sucking turf grass, use a ground cover to create the visual effect of a lawn. The great thing about this option, is you have a lot of flexibility with color and seasonal color - many ground covers flower so You'll have a punch of color at one point of the year, here are some ideas for ground cover.
Thyme - many kinds often strong scents
Sedums - Baby Tears is a perfect example
Herniaria - otherwise known as'Green Carpet'
Leptinella Platt's Black - Brass Buttons
here's link with a huge list of ground covers
You can buy ground covers at any nursury or place online like here http://www.stepables.com
Chandler AZ, Xeriscape Demonstration Garden
A totally lawn-free alternative - xeriscaping utilizes gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental irrigation.
Using plants that are native to the area, and allowing plants to go dormant when they naturally do, you can still create a garden that is beautiful.
Some links to get you started: