Well, the opportunities for cost savings in your landscape have finally become available. The State of California and the San Diego County Water Authority are now working together to provide cash rebates for anyone who wishes to remove their lawn and install drought tolerant and low water consuming plants in its place.
New irrigation requirements, design , square footage of lawn and a host of other rules and guidelines may come into play to get a good deal of your money back from the state. After you finish redesigning your landscape, however; the savings are considerable.
Right now (and who knows for how much longer it will be available), a home owner can receive up to $3000.00 back from the San Diego Water Authority. Another program run by the State Metropolitan Water District of California is also involved and will provide a rebate of $2.00 per square ft. for each approved sq. ft. of lawn that has been removed from your residential landscape. ( Residents may remove more lawn than approved but they will not be compensated for it.)
This is really exciting if you are a homeowner who is tired of paying high water bills just to water a boring lawn and spending (your weekends) or even more money on having someone else cut and edge your grass. I have been at the forefront of this design mindset for the past 10 years but it is really starting to hit home for all of us as the current water crisis becomes a reality and the cost of water use goes up, up, up.
Typically, when you remove your front lawn and replace it with a permeable surface, drought tolerant plants and drip irrigation you will save 70% percent of the water that you would have poured on the yard. MP3 rotators, (a very water stingy type of spray head) is another recommended type of irrigation that the State and County programs approve to be installed before you can get your rebate.
I personally prefer drip irrigation over the latter for several reasons. Drip is great in that it delivers water directly to each plant in your landscape. Since it is stapled directly to the soils and run in between all the plants in the landscape, there is never any fear of having irrigation rain shadows caused by plant growth. Most plants will grow over time and block the spray irrigation from doing its job and make for dry spots in your landscape.
Another great aspect that drip brings to the table is that the new high tech emitters available today allow for the adjustment of each emitter from completely closed to wide open. Many of these emitters are also unique in that they can spray in any direction and act just like a miniature lawn spray or pop up nozzle right at the base of a plant or groupings of plants.
This is really important when working with drought tolerant grasses, shrubs and succulents. Many plants have differing water requirements. Today, all these different materials can be installed on the same drip line or irrigation station. With new emitters, water can now run for the same amount of time for all the plants without the fear of over or under watering .
Drip is also great for large specimen trees as well. One good tip when using drip irrigation for larger specimen plants and palms is to dedicate an irrigation station on your clock to one drip line that waters them all. By circling each tree with drip, several emitters can be installed around the trunk and a deep saturation a couple of times a week will do the trick as far as mimicking nature and her intermittent ways.
As far as pursuing the lawn removal rebates, there are a few stipulations that must be followed in order to qualify for the program: A plan, pictures and measurements of the proposed sod removal, names and numbers including the sizes of all the plants, your recent water bill, a residential on line training class, a pre-conversion inspection and finally a pre-approval are required.
With the help of a professional landscape contractor, your new water friendly landscape can almost be free.