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So Cal Lawn / Turf Replacement Program

The dire drought situation in many parts of the United States and specifically Southern California has led to new incentives to replace your lawn / turf and now is the time to do it! The latest program is called the Turf Replacement Program by the Metropolitan Water District. Depending on where you live, additional rebates might be available from your local water agency.

According to the Metropolitan Water District's "The Turf Replacement program is a two-part application process. In order to receive a rebate, you must apply to reserve rebate funds prior to starting your project. After the reservation, you will have 180 days to complete the project and submit your request for a rebate.

Metropolitan Water District is offering a rebate of $2.00 per square foot up to 5,000 square feet of converted yard per year. Your water agency may offer an additional rebate incentive. To verify the full incentive offered for your area, please visit estimate my rebate.

Turf grass is a commonly used in landscaping. Unfortunately, it also requires a large amount of water, time, and money to maintain in our Southern California climate. Conversion to a California Friendly™ and native landscape may dramatically reduce both water and maintenance expenses. An example of potential savings is an experiment conducted using two properties in Santa Monica. One was a traditional turf landscape and the other was converted to a California Friendly™ landscape. Over the years, the California Friendly™ landscape has used 83% less water and required 68% less maintenance than the traditional turf landscape. You can see the details of this experiment here.

Often, turf is located in places where it is underutilized or not needed, such as side yards, parkways, street medians, around parking lots, and in business landscapes without pedestrians. Many customers find that they can remove turf in their landscape while improving the usefulness and curb appeal of their property. In fact, California Friendly™ and native landscapes not only save water and money, but they can be a beautiful, unique, and interesting replacement for traditional turf.

The intent of the Turf Replacement program is to have homeowners remove their existing grass and to replace it with organic, drought tolerant landscaping. Please note, synthetic turf is not an approved conversion option for this program. Following the success of other incentive programs focusing on landscaping and turf grass removal, the Turf Replacement program aims to combine turf removal, irrigation modification and rainwater retention or filtration to support reuse or soil absorption of rainwater. Every turf replacement project will include:

  • 3 plants per 100 square feet of area transformed

  • A stormwater retention feature

  • No hardscape within the transformed area, except permeable hardscape

  • Replacement or modification of overhead spray sprinklers

The Turf Replacement Program takes a multi-pronged approach to maximize water utilization and conservation. Removing turf grass is one of the most water conscious adjustments a homeowner can make to reduce their water usage and associated costs. Converting irrigation systems to drip, hand-watering or installing water efficient micro-spray systems or rotating nozzles ensures that landscape watering is as efficient as possible. Finally, the addition of a sustainable approach in the new landscape works to reduce or prevent wasteful runoff through the use of a rainwater capture or filtration system.

Both Residential Properties and Commercial Properties Qualify

Both residential and commercial properties can apply for rebates. Not only are there rebates for turf removal, there is also rebates for water saving devices like smart meters and water saving irrigation.

Before Removing Turf:

  • Before you begin your project or remove any turf, you must apply for and receive an approval to proceed.

  • The pre-project approval to proceed will specify the estimated rebate amount based on the measured area and information you provided. Note: It is important that you measure your project area(s) accurately. Once your project start has been approved, your rebate amount cannot be increased from the amount approved.

  • Visit the SoCalWater$mart Turf Replacement Program Application to apply online for your approval to start your project..

  • Items to have ready before going online:

    • At least 5 color photos of the areas where you plan to remove turf.

    • A simple landscape plan which shows the area to be transformed and the type and location of your selected stormwater retention feature. Visit the Sustainable Approach page for more information on eligible stormwater retention features.

    • A photo or scanned copy of your recent water bill.

  • Set up an account with a valid email address and password. Be sure to use a current email address because all information about your rebate will be sent to this email account. The account will allow you to log back in after your project is complete to claim your reserved funding (see Post Project details below). Do not begin your work until you receive an email approval to start your project. This may take approximately two weeks.

  • Once you receive approval, you have 180 days to complete your project.

  • After completing your project, you are ready to submit Post Project: Request for Rebate.


  • Once your project has been completed, visit the Turf Replacement Rebate Application to request your rebate by completing Post Project: Request for Rebate Application

  • The project start approval will specify the estimated rebate amount based on the square footage and information provided. Your square footage amount cannot be increased from the original amount reserved.

  • Submit a minimum of eight color photos of your completed project area consisting of:

    • The new plant coverage installed.

    • The sustainable landscape approach selected (i.e. rain garden, rain barrel, etc.).

    • At least one of each area where turf was removed.

    • The overhead irrigation conversion or modification incorporated.

  • There may be a post-project site inspection, provided by Metropolitan’s inspector.

  • It may take up to 2 weeks to review your application. Once all of the correct documents have been received and reviewed, and an inspection has been completed (if needed) you will be advised of the status of your rebate via email or your online dashboard. Upon approval, you will receive your rebate in 8-10 weeks."

If you have a residential or commercial property and need help with the rebate process, contact us! Not only can we help facilitate the rebate process, we can replace your turf along the necessary guidelines and update your irrigation system to both save water and money!


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