California’s water supplies continue to be challenged by historically dry conditions. In response to the worsening drought, all Californians were asked in July 2021 to reduce water use by 15%.
Outdoor water use makes up 50% or more of total household water use during the warmer months. One of the most effective methods for permanently reducing water use at home is to replace water-thirsty grass lawns with beautiful, drought-resistant landscapes. Residents who live in the West Basin service area are currently eligible to apply for rebates starting at $3 per square foot of grass removed (up to $15,000 total!) for projects that conserve water, reduce runoff, and benefit the local environment.
West Basin created this page to assist those residents who are ready to take the next step in creating a more sustainable and functional landscape. Please read through the resources below, which includes a step-by-step guide that will help you navigate the rebate application process, from start to finish.
On behalf of West Basin, we wish you a successful grass replacement project!
How do I measure my project area?
- Begin by identifying the part of your landscape that you would like to replace. Please note only areas with existing turf grass will be considered for the incentive.
- A great measuring tool to use is Google Maps Area Calculator. It allows you to roughly estimate the landscape area based on measurements produced on Google Maps.
- Of course, you may also use a tape measure to determine the area of your landscape. Try to break up your landscape into easily measurable shapes. There are many helpful websites and smart phone apps available to help you accurately calculate the square footage of your landscape.
- Visit the SoCal Water$mart Turf Replacement web page to estimate your rebate and submit an application to begin the approval process.
- Make sure you have the following items ready before applying:
- At least five (5) color photos of the areas where you plan to remove turf – Read the Turf Replacement Program FAQs Page under the question “What are the Photo Guidelines for Turf Replacement,” to see what types of photos are required.
- A simple landscape plan which shows the area to be transformed, including the type and location of your selected stormwater retention feature – Note: a rainwater barrel is considered an acceptable type of stormwater retention feature.
- A photo or scanned copy of your most recent water bill.
- Set up an account with a valid email address and password. This email address will be used to provide information regarding your rebate status. The account will also allow you to log back in after your project is complete to claim your reserved rebate funding.
- Do not begin any work until you receive an email notification from SoCal Water$mart indicating that your project has been approved. The notification takes approximately two weeks to be delivered.
- Once you receive approval, you have 180 days to complete your project. After completing your project, you are ready to request your rebate.
Design Your Project
If you have decided to hire someone else to help with your project, a good place to start is by identifying landscape contractors in your area. Before contacting various contractors, consider which aspects of the project you need help with:
- Design assistance
- Grass removal
- Choosing plants and trees
- Landscape installation
The California Landscape Contractors Association offers a contractor search option on their website*.
*Please note that the inclusion of this list is not an endorsement by West Basin. It is intended to function as a resource to help the progression of your project.
There are over 1,000 eligible plants, trees, and shrubs that can be included in your landscape design. The following are two great plant databases to assist in your search:
- LA Coastal Gardens: Find beautiful, sustainable, climate-appropriate, native, and drought tolerant options
- Calscape Garden Planner: Take a questionnaire to find the perfect native plants for your garden
A stormwater retention feature helps keep water in your yard when it rains.
The Grass Replacement Program requires at least one of the following stormwater retention features:
- Rock garden
- Rain garden
- Dry river beds
- Rain barrels
For a detailed description of each of these features, please visit SoCal Water$mart’s Sustainable Approach Techniques web page:
West Basin also provides free distribution of rain barrels every year. To learn more about the rain barrel program, visit:
What type of irrigation system or adjustment is needed to receive the rebate?
The grass replacement project should replace or modify existing overhead spray sprinklers to a more efficient irrigation system. It is important to consider the types of plants that will be used in your design and address the irrigation requirements during the design stage.
This is a great time to consider upgrading to rotating sprinkler nozzles which are eligible for an additional rebate of $2 per nozzle (minimum quantity of 30 nozzles). Additional information about this rebate can be found on the Socal Water$mart website:
Other Resources for Your Project
Learn how to design and install a water efficient garden through free online classes hosted by Metropolitan Water District of Southern California!
Choose from three class topics:
- California Friendly and Native Landscape Training
- Turf Removal and Garden Transformation Workshop
- Garden Design Workshop
For more information and to register, visit:
Chat with us!
In case you missed our last West Basin Chat: Grass Replacement please find the video recording below to learn how this popular program can help you go drought-friendly and get big savings! Additionally, Frequently Asked Questions are posted on the SoCal Water$mart webpage.
Before and After Photos
The following transformation photos are meant to inspire you and to show nice examples of what is possible when you remove your grass lawn in favor of a beautiful, California-Friendly landscape.