Spain’s ‘Desert City’ Is What All Our Lawns Will Look Like in 30 Years

Best part: Tending them will be a piece of cake.

August 3, 2017 9:00 am

Assuming all present accept climate change as fact, we’re looking at a future with far less water, more extreme temperatures and well, those are about the only two certainties. That will — and perhaps already does — have far-reaching effects. And one of them is that lush sprawl of tidy green grass you call a lawn.

In California, citizens began painting their dead grass a healthy-ish (non-toxic) shade of green during the worst of the drought. Madrid, meanwhile, has been planting more greenery within city limits to cool and clean urban areas during the increasingly punishing summers.

Outside Madrid, in San Sebastián de los Reyes, at education and research complex Desert City, Garciagerman Arquitectos have taken a different approach. If what you’ve planted isn’t surviving, plant something else. Something native, most likely, and hardier.

The hybrid program complex is among the most significant cactus centers in Europe. Centered on a reclaimed wasteland, Desert City makes use of several alternative energy technologies: conductive glass, geothermal power, water reclamation. This allows them to operate and massive and lush garden of succulents with very little net loss in resources.

Whether you live in California (where there’s no water) or a cramped apartment in Manhattan (where there’s no light), this also makes Desert City a perfect model for low-effort sustainable gardening. Your correspondent tends a couple dozen succulents at home, all indoor.

Cacti (6 images)

What’s the difference between a cactus and a succulent, you ask? It’s a square/rectangle situation: all cacti are succulents, but not vice versa. And all of them are a piece of cake to tend.

When people say they can’t keep plants alive, I think it must be because they are too fussy over them. Lots of light, some water and … that’s it. There’s nothing else. Just look at them often and monitor said variables. After the initial planting, a front yard would be even easier, and more interesting to look at than a patch of grass (though less fun to sit barefoot among, admittedly).

All images and video by miguel de guzmán + rocío romero / imagen subliminal

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