The drought in California has provided aggregates producers with a new market. Replacing front lawns with rocks.
Since July 1, the Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California has paid just over $34 million in turf-removal rebates, according to the Los Angeles Times. It has given the go-ahead for an additional $120 million in turf-removal applications. The agency offers a rebate of $2 per sq. ft., which many cities have supplemented with their own rebate programs.
About 2,600 Los Angeles residents have ripped out their lawns, along with nearly 60 companies.
“Demand is really high,” said Sandra Giarde, executive director of the California Landscape Contractors Association. “Now that we have the drought, it’s no longer ‘Gee, it’d be really great if we could do something about this landscaping.’ Now, it’s ‘We need to do something about it.’”
The MWD has created a tool on its website to let consumers know if they qualify. You can also enter the square footage of your project for an estimate of the amount of the rebate, depending on the rate available from your water agency or city and the size of your project.
The next step is figuring out if your lawn meets specifications. First, you must have live grass in your yard. Homeowners who let their turf die off are not eligible.
This may change. In January, the Los Angeles City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee approved a motion urging the full council to change that requirement to include homeowners with dead or dying lawns.
The MWD has to approve any replacement project before it begins. You will need to fill out an online application and submit five photos of the turf you plan on removing as well as a copy of a recent water bill. Approval takes about two weeks.
Most programs allow only one rebate per property, even if you remove more grass later.
Most programs require drought-friendly plants. The DWP requires that 40 percent of the area contain plants (once they reach maturity) and materials used for pathways must be permeable, such as mulch or small rocks.
The MWD allows 120 days to compete the project. If you need more time, many agencies, including the DWP, allow for extensions.
MWD customers need to upload five color photos of their new yard and a copy of their water bill to apply for the rebate. It can take up to 10 weeks for the rebate to arrive. During that time, an MWD contractor will inspect the finished product. If any disqualifications are found, the agencies can generally work with customers to allow them to fix problems and receive another review.
Stones to the rescue.