California Drought

Weeks after Gov. Jerry Brown called for the removal 50 million square feet of lawn in the state, water agencies said that they were well on their way to meeting the goal.

Since July 1, 2015 the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has paid just over $34 million in turf removal rebates. It has given the go-ahead to an additional $120 million in turf removal applications. The agency offers a rebate of $2 per square foot, which many cities have supplemented with their own rebate programs.

The DWP offers one of the highest rebates in Southern California — an additional $1.75 per square foot for residents and $1 per square foot for businesses.

About 2,600 Los Angeles residents have ripped out their lawns, along with nearly 60 companies.

The MWD has created a tool on its website to let you know if you qualify. You can also enter the square footage of your project for an estimate of the amount of the rebate, depending on the rate available from your water agency or city and the size of your project.

(If you don’t qualify, check with your local water agency to see if it has its own program.)

The next step is figuring out if your lawn meets specifications. First, you must have live grass in your yard. Homeowners who let their turf die off are not eligible.

This may change. In January, the Los Angeles City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee approved a motion urging the full council to change that requirement to include homeowners with dead or dying lawns.

The MWD has to approve any replacement project before it begins. You will need to fill out an online application and submit five photos of the turf you plan on removing as well as a copy of a recent water bill. Approval takes about two weeks.

Most programs allow only one rebate per property, even if you remove more grass later.

How long will these programs last?

That remains to be seen. Mark Gentili, a DWP water conservation supervisor, said the program is “geared to be supported to the end of the fiscal year.”

What are my options for replacement?

Most programs require drought-friendly plants. The DWP requires that 40% of the area contain plants (once they reach maturity) and materials used for pathways must be permeable, such as mulch or small rocks.

The MWD has an online resource that allows users to browse images of renovated lawns, learn about plant types and find local nurseries.

Rumaldo Flores, owner of the Glassell Park-based Flores Landscaping, said lavender, rosemary, salvia and succulents are some of the most popular replacement plants.

How soon must I complete the project?

The MWD allows 120 days. If you need more time, many agencies, including the DWP, allow for extensions.

Flores, the owner of the landscaping company, said the service generally takes a week or longer, depending on the size of the yard and the complexity of the design.

Talk to your landscaper, or do some research, so you can be realistic about how long it will take.

How much does it cost?

Price depends on the size of the yard, landscape design and ease of access (for example, a home on a hillside may cost more than a level lot).

For a yard of about 2,000 square feet, Flores said, lawn replacement can cost about $6,000, or $3 per square foot, which includes removal, installation and irrigation. That means depending on the size of your lawn, a project could cost $2,000 to more than $10,000.

Click here to read the full article which includes answers to the following questions:

What about artificial turf?

How much money will I get in return?

How do I claim my rebate?

Here is a more recent article on the subject:

Emergency 25% cut in California cities’ water use approved