Creative Concepts Landscape has been receiving a lot of calls recently about lawn removal and drought tolerant landscape installation.


Our state is facing a severe drought – like it or not and blame whom you will, but landscape water restrictions will most likely keep tightening. We are here to help.


Our native ecology in much of Southern California has evolved to be able to sustain itself with minimal rainfall. Although cultivated landscapes differ than natural landscapes, we can take lessons for our properties from the native world.


Currently, the metropolitan water district of Southern California is offering a turf grass removal rebate, which covers much of the Los Angeles metro area. Because we have received so many requests for turf removal, this article is going to concentrate on the specific requirements for that rebate, however the information below can be used as a guideline for many low water use landscapes, also known as drought tolerant landscapes.


A newly installed low water use landscape


Who Qualifies for the Turf Removal Rebate Program?  


The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is offering this turf removal rebate program. They work in concert with many municipal water agencies, so the property owner will need to find out directly if they are eligible. Here at Creative Concepts Landscape, we have found that our service coverage area of the Crescenta Valley, Pasadena, Glendale, the San Fernando Valley, and northeast Los Angeles are covered by this program.


The Los Angeles metro area


Why Apply? 


The rebate program is offering $2 per square foot of lawn removed (up to 5,000 square feet). At first glance that might not sound like much, but it adds up quickly.  Many lawns in Southern California are at least 20 by 20 feet.


Of course, if you love your lawn and do not mind paying for the water and maintenance it necessitates, then this might not be of interest to you. However, many municipal water agencies are restricting the amount of water that can be used with overhead sprinklers to two days a week, fifteen minutes each day, and I’ve heard word of single day per week restrictions. With these restricted water amounts, in the heat of summer, even with a well operating irrigation system, your lawn will show signs of drought stress, if not die-back. Something to consider.


Drought stressed lawn


If you have been thinking about removing your lawn for various reasons (reduce your water bill, ecological concerns, inspired by the beauty of California native/low water gardens) then now is a good time to act. The turf removal rebate program has a limited amount of funding.



What is Needed to Receive This Turf Removal Rebate? 


There are some parameters as to what is removed and installed in order to receive this $2 per sqaure foot rebate.  Let’s take a look:


Before Starting the Turf Removal


You must receive your rebate program approval before the project has begun. You will not qualify if you apply after removing your lawn.


  • The property owner or tenant must apply directly. Creative Concepts Landscape will help you with the process and provide some of the needed documentation, however you, the property owner or tenant, must be the one to apply to the program.
  • Documentation needed for the application:
    • 5 color photographs of the existing lawn
    • A simply overhead plan of the new landscape design (Creative Concepts Landscape will provide this for you)
    • A photograph or scan of your recent water bill


Turf Removal Design & Installation Specifics


There are requirements for what is needed in the new landscape in order to receive this rebate. Creative Concepts Landscape has done this for a number of clients, and we will gladly create a design that meets the requirements of this rebate program for you and install that design.


  • The property must have a minimum of 250 square feet of turf that will be removed (again, this program only offers a rebate up to 5,000 square feet).
  • If you only want to remove a section of your lawn (minimum of 250 square feet), you are still eligible for the rebate.


The new landscape must:


  • Not include any live turf or turf-like grasses.


  • Have at least three plants per one hundred sqaure feet (existing trees that remain in the landscape will count towards this requirement). Three plants per one hundred sqaure feet is actually fairly spare looking upon installation. They will often grow larger, though, depending on the plant type.


  • Only certain plant types will be approved for the new design. These plants need to be low in water needs. No turf or turf-grass like plants, no invasive species of any type. Creative Concepts Landscape will create a plant design that meets these requirements.


  • The landscape must be permeable to air and water, reducing surface runoff. Areas with solid concrete, structures, or any other surface that air and water cannot move through will not qualify. These areas can be added to the design, however they will not count towards the rebate money. Pathways with broken concrete or materials such a flagstone and pavers with permeable gaps (no grout/cement/concrete) will meet the requirements.


  • A storm water retention feature must be included. This can be a number of features, including: a dry riverbed, rock garden, berms, or rain barrels (among others). If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry, it’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem. Creative Concepts Landscape will discuss possibilities for your specific landscape.


  • A three-inch-deep layer of organic mulch must surround all plants (unless they are within the rainwater retention feature). Organic mulch includes shredded bark, bark nuggets, and wood chips.


  • Mulch, rock, or decomposed granite must cover all bare soil areas of the project. No bare soil allowed!


  • All sprinkler systems in the project area must be converted to: drip lines, micro-spray, bubblers, or rotating nozzles. If the irrigation is no longer needed, then the sprinkler heads must be capped off or the irrigation equipment removed. No overhead spray sprinklers are allowed unless they are rotating nozzles, or micro-spray, as mentioned above. This might sound more confusing than it actually is. Creative Concepts Landscape will be happy to further explain and incorporate these requirements into the design.


  • No artificial turf is allowed.


A low water use landscape with plenty of mulch


There you have it. The program basics. If you are interested in removing your lawn, or installing a low water use landscape then contact us today to set up a consultation.


Creative Concepts Landscape will provide you with a proposal that fits the turf removal rebate program or any other landscape project you have in mind!


By Daniel Williams

Client Laison for Creative Concepts Landscape



The Metroplitan Water District Turf Removal Rebate Program website