LA Times: Getting rid of grass is making homeowners' wallets greener

Image: LandscapingLA

Image: LandscapingLA

In his latest LA Times column, Steve Lopez reports that property owners are being offered a financial incentive to replace water-guzzling grass with drought-tolerant landscaping. Excerpt:

The current deal is that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will pay $2 per square foot, up to $4,000 total, if you replace water-guzzling grass with drought-tolerant landscaping. Imagine that — the DWP sending you money instead of siphoning it right out of your wallet.

DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo said that in the six months that ended Jan. 31, residential and commercial customers ripped out 813,000 square feet of turf. Since 2009, 6.6 million square feet of grass have become history. Ramallo said there was a tenfold increase in applications last fall, when the price per square foot went up from $1.50.

Long Beach is offering $3 per square foot in its lawn-to-garden program, with a maximum payout of $3,000. Kevin Wattier, general manager of the city's water department, told me there's been a spike in applications since the city upped its payment from $2.50 a square foot.

Wattier said that on average, about 50% to 60% of residential water use is for irrigation, and property owners who've dug out their grass are saving roughly 20% on their water bills.

Here are a few links for more information on each lawn replacement program:

The Theodore Payne Foundation is an excellent resource for more information on plants native to the Los Angeles area. Plants available for purchase online and at their nursery in Sun Valley, CA.