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How to remove your lawn, part 3 - and get PAID for it

How to remove your lawn, part 3 - and get PAID for it

We’ve talked a little in the previous two stories about how to remove your lawn, but now let’s talk about why you should do so.

Of course it’s mostly about saving water. You know we’re in a drought, and conserving water is important. Putting water on grass is one of the most wasteful ways to use it, because grass, quite frankly, is a water hog. Keeping it green requires near constant watering in the summer Valley heat. If you don’t water it, though, it looks hideous.

So getting rid of your lawn will save water, and improve your yard’s look by replacing brown grass with plants and flowers that bloom or add shade. Using native and drought tolerant plants means you won’t water so much, which saves water and – added benefit! – saves you money. Yay!

But, you are grousing, you won’t see those savings for a while, because you’ll have to pay for new plants and ground covers where your lawn once was. Too expensive, right?

Wrong. You can now get not one, but two rebates if you replace your lawn this year. Between the two, you should be able to buy lots of plants or even pay for some work to be done on your yard’s grass removal.

So if being a do-gooder isn’t enough incentive, now you can get paid to remove your lawn. How can you beat that?

Locally, California Water Service has a program that pays $1 per square foot of grass removed from your yard. You must remove at least 250 square feet of lawn, with a maximum of 1,000 square feet, to qualify, and you can’t replace the grass with artificial turf or warm-season turf grass – actual plants and trees are required. But you can sure do a lot with $1,000, can’t you? For more information, visit the Cal Water website: https://www.calwater.com/conservation/rebates-and-programs/residential/vis/.

The state of California is also getting in on the rebate action, and they offer $2 per square foot of lawn removed, up to 1,000 square feet. And yes, you can apply to both programs, meaning you might get a total of $3 for every square foot of lawn you take out. Nice!

The state, being a government entity, of course has more rules for your grass-be-gone project to qualify – what a surprise, the government has more rules, huh? But none of them are difficult. The Department of Water Resources’ rules include:

Rebates do not apply for areas that are already bare land; dead or live grass removal only.
Your replacement plants must be drought-tolerant or California natives, and must include at least one tree (an already existing tree qualifies).
Exposed areas must be covered with mulch, decomposed granite (DG) or gravel. (You should be doing this anyway, to ensure areas stay moist longer when watered.)
You can’t get a rebate if you replace lawn with a deck or patio or other structure, but it’s OK to use pavers or install a brick patio.
You must use drip irrigation or micro-spray or hand water your new area. No inefficient sprinklers allowed.
No artificial turf.

See, the rules aren’t so bad, they are pretty sensible actually. For more information, check out this website: http://www.water.ca.gov/turf/.

Getting a rebate for removing your lawn is great, but putting in new plantings is a long-term solution, not something that will save you money overnight. New plantings will need to be watered for a bit when first installed (if you’re in Visalia you can get a permit to do this; visit the city's water info page: http://www.ci.visalia.ca.us/depts/administration/natural_resource_conservation/water_conservation_n_replenishment/watering_requirements.asp for more information), but eventually your use will be lower and so will your water bill.

Next time, we’ll talk about how you use even less water by re-using it to water plants. It’s called gray water, and it’s easy, legal and fun!

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