Cash for Grass

More than half of the water consumed by the average residence (single-family and multi-family) goes toward landscape maintenance. Cities across the state are working with water agencies to offer property owners incentives to convert water-thirsty grass to water-efficient, drought-tolerant yards. Most programs offer $1 for every square foot of grass replaced with water-efficient landscaping with a cap on total square footage.

Californians use about 977 billion gallons of water for landscape irrigation each year. Improved landscape techniques can reduce this amount up to 75%. Water-efficient landscapes benefit communities, water supply agencies and the environment by reducing:

  • Average daily water demand.
  • Seasonal peak water demand.
  • The need for taking water from environmental uses.
  • Runoff and soil erosion as well as the need for chemical treatments.
  • Production of green waste.
  • Air pollution from lawn mowing.
  • Costs of energy use, stormwater controls, water treatment and wastewater treatment.
Cash for Grass
Drought-tolerant landscaping requires less water for irrigation. Photo credit: Riverside Utilities

While water-efficient landscapes have many benefits, the most obvious is lower water bills.  A study of condominiums and townhouse complexes in Marin County found that traditional landscaping used 126 to 216 gallons daily for landscaping per dwelling unit. Water-conserving landscapes at similar complexes reduced water use by greater than 50% (The Ahwahnee Water Principles: A Blueprint for Regional Sustainability).

Cash for Grass programs can be funded through the Department of Water Resources.

For more funding sources for water, wastewater and water recycling projects: