The L.A. Times reports that the L.A. Department of Water and Power (DWP) is offering single-family homes up to USD 2,000 to get rid of their lawns in favor of native, low-water-usage plants. If a homeowner rips out lawn, turns off their sprinklers, and replaces the lawn with more sustainable options, they will receive a rebate from the city. According to the L.A. Times, “the rebate program requires that you have a plan for the successor landscape. Acceptable turf substitutes include drought-tolerant plants, mulch and permeable ground cover.” (see earlier post on sustainable landscape architecture).
The goal of the program is to elimate the use of any municipal water for lawns. Drought-tolerant substitutes are estimated to require just 15 inches of water per year, which is the same amount as L.A.’s average annual rainfall. (In comparison, grassy lawns can require 50-90 inches per year, creating enormous water needs).
L.A.’s DWP says it “won’t buy dead lawn.” “But if you have 200 to 2,000 square feet of lawn that is doing little more than consuming water, then the DWP is willing to pay you to get rid of it. That includes the forlorn strip of lawn between the sidewalk and curb known as the ‘parkway.'” DWP is taking aim at those strips of parkways because they contribute to sprinkler systems’ runoff. The L.A. Times writes: “opening the DWP program to parkways makes good sense because watering with sprinklers is next to impossible there without creating runoff. Under the new drought ordinances, creating runoff is now illegal.”
The L.A. Times says the idea is a good one, but L.A. still needs to catch up with other cities like Las Vegas, which offer up to 50 percent more money to do the same. Las Vegas is far ahead of L.A. in removing water-consuming lawns. “Las Vegas has removed more than 125 million square feet of grass, saving 7 billion gallons of water a year. That’s almost one-tenth of Southern Nevada’s annual water supply.”
TreeHugger notes San Diego is also encouraging homeowners to let their lawns go.
Image credit: L.A. Times