Landscapes have a profound impact on HOAs, business parks, and commercial properties. They improve the overall public health of the community for the better such as air quality, emotional wellbeing and longevity. Their inherent beauty increases property values and helps spur community involvement and connection. All these benefits are reasons why we irrigate, keeping plants, flowers, turf and trees green and healthy.
However, due to increased water demands and more frequent drought cycles, we can no longer continue to use water to irrigate the way we have in the past. We need to rethink the way we utilize our landscape to ensure we are maximizing our water allocation. Landscape irrigation is the largest portion of all residential water usage, and within the landscape the plant that requires the most amount of water per square foot is turf lawns.
Using water wisely is not a straightforward task. The picture below on the left illustrates the inherent problem. During the drought years, the sprinklers in this turf area were turned down. That worked for some areas, but obviously not for others. Increasing the irrigation frequency and duration would green up the brown areas, but doing so would have overwatered the areas that were already green. While we can try to optimize for perfect water coverage, irrigation on turf is inherently inefficient.
The solution? Remove turf altogether and replace it with a more sustainable landscape as shown in the picture on the right.
Replacing existing turf lawns with well-designed low-water landscapes that incorporate native and climate-appropriate shrubs, grasses, and trees, along with mulch varieties that replenish soil and retail water, can have major benefits. These benefits include diversifying plant species, lowering irrigation needs and reducing stormwater runoff.
Turf Removal Rebates
Going beyond the environmental benefits of turf removal, property owners and managers can also benefit from removing turf by putting money back in their pocket through rebates. Many owners and property managers may not be aware they can receive rebates for removing turf on their property if replaced with more sustainable landscapes. The intent of a turf replacement program is to remove existing grass and to replace it with organic, drought tolerant landscaping.
Program Eligibility & Requirements
Here in Southern California, Metropolitan Water District offers a rebate of $2-$3 per square foot up to 50,000 square feet of converted yard per year. The program aims to combine turf removal, irrigation modification and rainwater retention or filtration to support reuse or soil absorption of rainwater. Your water agency may offer an additional rebate incentive on devices such as weather based irrigation controllers, soil moisture sensors, rotating nozzles, rain barrels or cisterns. With these enhancements, you could be putting a big chunk of change back in your pocket!
To be eligible for the rebate, your property must have the following requirements:
- Have a minimum of 250 square feet of turf removed, or if the entire site has less than 250 square feet of turf grass, all present turf must be removed.
- Include at least three plants per 100 square feet in the project area.
- Include a stormwater feature designed to capture rainfall through infiltration or on-site storage for reuse. Eligible techniques include: rain gardens, rock gardens, dry river beds, etc.
- Include a three (3) inch deep ring of organic mulch surrounding all plants. Acceptable forms of organic mulch include shredded bark, bark nuggets or wood chips.
- Include irrigation modification or conversion such as conversion of over-head sprays to drip, micro-spray, bubblers, or rotating nozzles; whichever is applicable; or Cap sprinkler heads or remove irrigation equipment and hand-water.
To see the complete list of qualifications required to receive the rebate, see the Socal Water Smart’s website.
So how much money can you actually save? Check out the turf removal calculator here.
Tackling Turf With Bemus
When working with Bemus on your next turf removal project, we not only turn your property into a water saving, California friendly, native landscape but we also submit the official application on your behalf which includes the project start approval and the rebate application. In order to receive a rebate, properties must apply to reserve rebate funds prior to starting the project. After the reservation, you will have 180 days to complete the project and submit your request for a rebate.
Ready to remove your turf and learn more about the rebate process? Please contact our team for more information. We look forward to hearing from you.