As you probably know, California is in a major drought and water shortage. Even with the few rains we have had this Spring, we are no where near where we need to be in terms of water storage and supply.
With all of the news coverage the drought has received, you may have heard of turf replacement programs in San Diego County. These programs pay you to kill your lawn and install a water-wise landscape, including trees! Saving water is only one reason why this is such a good idea…
Turf Replacement’s Many Benefits
When you replace your lawn with low-maintenance native plants and trees, you increase your property value, lower your water bill, save money on landscaping, and stop polluting the environment with gas-powered tools, fertilizers, and pesticides. Another great benefit of a native garden is providing food and shelter for local birds and butterflies. Native plants can also help protect your property from wildfires (blog post coming soon!)!
Say No To Lawns
- Lawns are like sponges. Turfgrass requires a tremendous amount of water to stay green. Water-wise landscapes use about 70% less water than lawns.
- Lawns aren’t wildlife habitats. Lawns are not homes for our local wildlife. When our housing developments were built, construction workers cleared out our local coastal sage scrub and chaparral habitats to grade the land. Lawns don’t provide the food and shelter that once existed. When you install a native landscape, you participate in a small habitat restoration.
- Lawns pollute. Lawns create a crazy amount of pollution. First, there are the fertilizers and pesticides that seep into our groundwater, causing all sorts of problems. Secondly, the regular mow-and-blow service that lawns require involves gas-powered tools that pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and create loud noise throughout your neighborhood.
- Lawns don’t support native trees. Development in the past 30 years has led to a major loss of trees in San Diego County. We need them to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, reduce rainwater runoff, and cool down the earth. Trees can also keep you home cooler during the summer. Native trees use less water and provide excellent habitats for wildlife. It’s difficult to plant native trees in a traditional lawn, however, because their water requirements aren’t the same. Many native trees can die from being overwatered.
Current Programs in San Diego
In the past year, most of the funding for turf replacement programs in San Diego has run out. This means many people are killing their lawns and transitioning to native landscapes, which is great! There is currently one program in San Diego that will pay you to replace your lawn with a water-wise garden. Be sure to include trees as an important element of your landscape design.
The Department of Water Resources (DWR) – The California DWR has a rebate program for removing turf and replacing it with waterwise landscapes. The $24 million program budget is expected to support the conversion of more than 10 million square feet of turf, or approximately 20% of the statewide goal of 50 million square feet of turf. Up to $2 per square foot of removed and replaced turf will be rebated per eligible household. The total rebated amount, including any rebates the homeowner has already applied for from another agency, can’t exceed a total of $2 per square foot.
The DWR program is for front yards and backyards. You must have at least one tree. Mulch is required on all exposed soil surfaces. At minimum, 25% of the converted area include low-water-use, drought-tolerant or California native plants. The Program requires drip irrigation, micro-spray irrigation, or hand watering. Synthetic turf is not allowed. Click here to apply for the DWR rebate program.
Funding is limited for turf replacement programs in San Diego, so act now to secure your rebate. The red tape involved when applying for these rebates is a small price to pay for the long-term financial and environmental benefits of a sustainable landscape.
If you want to learn more about water-wise landscaping, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California offers free California Friendly Landscape classes online. The San Diego County Water Authority also offers free California Friendly Landscape Training classes throughout San Diego County.
Our landscaping choices can reduce water use considerably, and make a significant impact on our community. Have you applied for these rebates? I would love to hear about your experiences. Please call or text me at (760) 390-6330 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.