California Turf Replacement Programs of 2023

Tired of your wimpy, water-guzzling grass? California’s turf replacement programs of 2023 are here to help! These California-specific programs offer free money to:

  • Remove your high-water-use grass lawns (turf)
  • Replace your lawn with beautiful, low-water-use landscaping (e.g. drought resistant plants and native plants)
  • Improve your water efficiency with rainwater retention and drip irrigation

With the drought expected to continue for the foreseeable future all the way from Southern California up to Northern California, now is the time to make the switch.

Hidden Bridge at Folsom Lake. Usually Submerged under 60 Feet of Water This Bridge Is Visible Due to the Severe Drought in California

Why does California want me to get rid of my grass?

The state of California is currently in the midst of a severe drought. In response, the state has enacted a number of measures to try to reduce water usage. One of these measures is the California turf removal program, which offers incentives to homeowners who replace their high-water-use grass with low-water-use landscaping.

As California confronts drought, extreme heat, and worsening climate change, it is critical that we deepen our investment in water conservation strategies.”

Assembly Member Jesse Gabriel
Freeway Sign Stating Severe Drought Conserve Water

What are the benefits of replacing my grass lawn in California?

In addition to saving water, there are a number of other benefits to replacing your grass lawn with low-water-use landscaping. For one, it can save you money on your water bill. It can also reduce the amount of time and effort you spend on lawn care. And, in some cases, it can increase the value of your home.

$100 bill tucked inside of grass

Who manages California’s turf removal rebates?

Turf replacement programs and rebates are managed by the metropolitan water districts and their member water agencies. They are open to homeowners in California who meet certain criteria, and the incentives vary depending on the size of the property and the amount of grass that is replaced. For example, a homeowner with a 2,000-square-foot lawn could receive up to $12,000 in rebates for replacing their grass with drought-tolerant plants.

green sprouts growing in the rain

If you’re thinking about replacing your grass, now is the time to act.

Our hots are getting hotter and our dries are getting drier. Our state is on track to lose 10% of its water supply by 2040 which is why we must all do our part to conserve water.”

Governor Gavin Newsom

Incentives are available now, but they may not be offered in the future. So don’t wait – start planning your new landscape today!

California Drought Tolerant Landscaping Rebates by Region

Southern California | 2023 Lawn and Water Rebates

Imperial County Water District

With more than 3,000 miles of canals and drains, IID is the largest irrigation district in the nation. IID’s Colorado River water entitlement is unparalleled, and as a trustee of these water rights, IID will continue to responsibly manage this water supply and its related resources for many generations to come. Contact the Imperial County Water District for up-to-date turf rebate information.

Los Angeles Water$mart

The SoCal Water$mart rebate and Turf Replacement program are offered by the Metropolitan Water District (MWD). In order to receive a rebate, you must apply to reserve rebate funds prior to starting your project. After the reservation, you will have 180 days to complete your landscaping project and submit your request for a rebate. MWD is offering a rebate of $2.00 per square foot up to 5,000 square feet of converted yard per year. Your water agency may offer an additional rebate incentive.

Los Angeles County California Cash for Grass Rebate Program

The Los Angeles County Waterworks Districts offers customers a rebate for removing water-inefficient grass lawns and sprinklers with drought-tolerant landscaping. The current rate is $1 per square foot, with a minimum requirement of 500 sq. ft. and a maximum of $5,000. The Rebate Program assists customers with reducing their overall water consumption. Contact the Los Angeles County Water District Public Works for more rebate information.

Orange County California Turf Rebate Program

The Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and your local water agency are proud to offer the Turf Removal Program to qualifying residents and businesses across Orange County. Rebates start at $3 per square foot of turf grass removed. Contact the Municipal Water District of Orange County directly for current synthetic turf rebate information.

Coachella Valley Water District Rebates

Residential homeowners are being offered $3.00 per square foot for new landscape conversion projects up to 10,000 square feet or $30,000. All residential landscape rebate projects must be pre-approved before work begins. Residents must also have a green or golden-brown lawn to qualify for this conversion rebate. Eligible Projects are funded on a first-come, first-served basis.

San Bernadino County Water and Sanitation Rebates

SBMWD offers several outdoor rebates and incentives to encourage customers to maintain beautiful, water-efficient landscaping. The City of San Bernardino Water Department is offering a $2.00 per square foot rebate incentive for turf replacement with artificial grass up to $400.00.

San Luis Obispo County Cash for Grass Program

The Cash for Grass Program offers monetary incentives for property owners in the Nipomo Mesa Water Conservation Area (NMWCA) and thePaso Robles Groundwater Basin (PRGWB) who are seeking to remove irrigated turf and replace it with approved low water using plants and ground cover. Contact the County of San Luis Obispo for up to date rebate information.

San Diego County Waterscape Rebate Program

The Waterscape Rebate Program focuses on the installation of landscaping and water-wise features, which help you save water, save money, and beautify your home and garden. Rebates are available for residents, businesses and agricultural producers living in the unincorporated areas of San Diego County.

Santa Barbara County Water Wise Landscape Rebate Program

Cash for Making Your Garden More Water Wise in Santa Barbara County. Program requirements may vary slightly depending on your service area, so get started by contacting your water provider.

Carpinteria Valley Water Districts Water Wise Landscape Rebate Program

The Carpinteria Valley Water Districts Water Wise Landscape Rebate Program covers a portion of the cost of pre-approved equipment and materials including artificial turf. In addition, 50% of landscape design costs up to $250 can be rebated within the total rebate amount. Any combination of design costs, irrigation equipment and planting costs may qualify up to a one-time rebate of $500 for single-family homes, and up to $1,000 for commercial, multi-family, and homeowner associations.

The City of Buellton

The City of Buellton offers rebates for replacing lawns with water-efficient plants and synthetic turf. This “Cash for Grass” rebate program offers $1.00 per square foot of rebate with a maximum rebate amount of $750 for eligible residential properties.

The City of Lompoc

The City of Lompoc is offering Water Wise Landscape Rebates when you retrofit your existing landscape with WaterWise plants and water-efficient irrigation systems. Substantial water savings must be estimated by City staff to qualify. The rebate amount is up to $1,000 for each address and can include the cost of plants, mulch, and irrigation equipment.

City of Solvang’s Water Conservation Program

As part of the City of Solvang’s Water Conservation Program, the City periodically offers a Turf Replacement Rebate Program. Please see the Turf Replacement Rebate Program Form (PDF), and contact the City’s Utility Billing Clerk at 805-688-5575 for more details.

Goleta Water District

Any combination of pre-approved irrigation equipment and planting costs may qualify for a one-time rebate of up to $750 for single-family meter customers and up to $2,000 per meter for multi-family (HOA), commercial, and dedicated landscape irrigation meter customers (up to 2 meters or $4,000 per multi-family or commercial site).

Vandenberg Village Community Services District Cash 4 Grass Rebates

Vandenberg Village Community Services District is proud to promote a conservation attitude with rebates, grants, and FREE water conservation devices.

Ventura County Turf Replacement Program

Contact the Ventura County Public Works for current turf replacement rebate information.

Central California | 2023 Lawn and Water Rebates

Fresno County Water Conservation Program Rebate

A $1.00 per square foot rebate is available for the removal of existing lawns when replaced with water-efficient landscapes. The rebate amount is based on the square footage of lawn removed and replaced, up to a maximum of 1,500 square feet. The Water Conservation Program requires that customers request a Water-Wise Landscape Consultation prior to removing a lawn for the Lawn to Garden rebate.

Kings Turf Replacement Program

City of Kingsburg water customers may be eligible for a rebate when they convert their existing grass area with any qualifying artificial turf products or drought tolerant landscape products. The rebate amount may not exceed $3,000 per residential or commercial City of Kingsburg water account. Project must be a minimum of 250 sq.ft. and maximum of 1500 sq.ft. Turf replacements that include only mulch, gravel, rocks or just artificial turf are not eligible without prior approval.

The City of Madera Water Conservation Rebate

City of Madera will pay customers u to $3.00 per square foot to remove up to 1,000 square feet of irrigated turf. Eligible water-efficient replacement landscaping includes drought-tolerant plants appropriate for the Madera area, mulch, rock, stepping stones, permeable hardscape, and artificial turf.

Mariposa County Residential Programs

Information not available online, please contact the Mariposa County Energy Assistance, Water, and Weatherization department directly.

Monterey Peninsula Water Management District Landscape Rebates

$1.00 per square-foot to a maximum of 2,500 square-feet per Qualifying Property. A minimum of 250 square-feet of Lawn must be removed. Lawn must be replaced with low water use plants or permeable surfaces (mulch, decomposed granite, etc.).

San Benito County Turf Removal Program

$2 per square foot, from 100 sq. ft. up to 1,000 sq. ft. The WRASBC is offering a program to reduce or limit turf in residential areas. Turf can use up to 80” of water per year in the San Benito climate and only receives from 11-13” of rain on average.

Stanislaus County – City of Modesto Rebate Program

City of Modesto water customers may be eligible for a rebate when they convert their existing grass area with any qualifying artificial turf products or drought tolerant landscape products. The rebate amount may not exceed $3,000 per residential City of Modesto water account and/or $6,000 per commercial City of Modesto water account. Funding is limited and applications will be accepted on a first come, first served basis.

Northern California | 2023 Lawn and Water Rebates

Alameda County Water District Lawn Be Gone Rebate Program

ACWD is transitioning its turf removal rebate program to a new online platform with assistance from the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency (BAWSCA). All ACWD customers can continue to receive a rebate for converting their lawns to water-efficient landscape.* The rebate is based on the number of square feet of lawn converted. ACWD is currently offering $2.00/sq.ft of lawn that is replaced with water-efficient landscape. Rebates are issued on a first-come, first served basis. Funding is limited.

Contra Costa County Conservation and Development

Contra Costa Water District (CCWD) offers rebates to customers for replacing the lawn in their front yard with water-wise landscaping. The rebate is $1 per square foot of lawn replaced. The maximum rebate for single-family residential sites is $1,000; The maximum rebate for commercial, multi-family, and municipal accounts is $20,000 per site.

Marin County Water Rebates

Marin Water is offering customers a rebate of up to $3 per square foot for replacing grass in their landscapes. Marin Water offers a great package of rebates and money-saving incentives for water conservation.

Napa County Water Conservation

The City of Napa offers water customers an incentive to replace their water-thirsty lawns with water-efficient landscaping. The basic program offers $1.00 per square foot to replace eligible lawn areas.

Sacramento County Water Agency Cash for Grass program

SCWA customers may receive a rebate of $1.00 per square foot up to $2,000 per residential household or $1.50 per square foot up to $2,500 commercial. Rebates will be awarded on a “first come, first served” basis. You will need to convert at least a minimum of two hundred (200) square feet of lawn/turf in accordance with the terms and conditions of the rebate program.

San Francisco County Bay Area Lawn Be Gone Rebate

Save water by removing your grass! Replace your lawn with a beautiful, drought-tolerant landscape and receive a rebate of up to $4 per sq.ft.

San Mateo County Water Conservation

The City of San Mateo’s water supply is provided by California Water Service (Cal Water), a private water supplier that provides water to 21 districts in California. Cal Water is responsible for developing and enforcing the compliance plan to meet state regulations.

Santa Clara County Landscape Rebates

This program is designed to encourage residents and businesses to convert approved high-water use landscape, such as lawns and pools, to low-water use landscape, as well as to retrofit existing irrigation equipment with approved high-efficiency irrigation equipment.

Turf Replacement Programs Explained

Table of Contents

In many states, free money (as a rebate) is available to homeowners and commercial property owners when they replace grass turf with drought tolerant landscaping. Learn more about what a metropolitan water district or local water agency expects during a lawn transformation project.

Homeowner's drought tolerant landscaping in front yard
Numerous plant and stormwater retention options are available for your project

What is a Turf Replacement Program?

Turf replacement is when a residential or commercial property owner removes their existing grass landscaping, and replaces it with heat tolerant plants in order to save water and create a more natural wildlife habitat. Applying for a local turf removal and replacement rebate is a cost-effective and sustainable approach to landscaping your yard. Once you finish your converted yard project, and your local water agency approves it, you get a rebate (i.e., free money)!

Drought tolerant plants in a front yard located on a street corner
Heat tolerant plants com in all shapes, sizes, and colors

7 Steps to Getting your Landscaping Rebate

In most cases, you’ll need to follow these 7 steps to be eligible for a sustainable landscapes rebate. It varies from state-to-state, and city-to-city, but generally to complete a turf replacement project, you must:

Be a residential or commercial property owner with an existing grass landscape

The intent of a turf replacement program is to have single-family homeowners, multi-family property owners, and businesses remove their existing grass and replace it with organic, drought tolerant landscaping.

House with a yard that includes grass and a stone wall
Does your landscaping look like this? Maybe it’s time to consider something more water wise.

Measure the area to be transformed (in square feet)

Before making any changes to your turf, you must measure your current residential or commercial landscape (in square feet). This calculates your estimated rebate amount (plus any additional rebate incentive).

Measuring tape laying in the grass
Measuring your yard is a vital step in calculating your rebate

Get prior approval through the rebate application process

Submit a turf replacement plan that shows a sketch or digital drawing of the area, list of plants, location of stormwater retention feature, photos of your current turf, and a recent water bill.

Water utility bill
Save your water bills or make sure you can access them online

Remove turf from your landscape

This is the step where you start getting your hands dirty! You need to remove the turf (i.e. the grass) to get ready for the new landscape. There are a number of ways to do this, from using a shovel and a sod cutter, to killing the grass by covering it with cardboard.

Using a shovel to dig up sod
Turf can be removed in a number of ways, although chemically killing it isn’t recommended

Transform your landscape area with plants, a stormwater retention feature, permeable hardscape, and more

Now that all the turf grass is gone, you can start planting your drought tolerant vegetation (native plants recommended). Some local water agencies require a certain number of plants per square foot (e.g. in Los Angeles, you must have 3 drought tolerant plants per 100 square feet). You may also need to add a selected stormwater retention feature like a rain barrel, rain garden, or rock garden, as well as hardscaping that allows water to pass through it (i.e., permeable). You cannot use artificial or synthetic turf.

Sage, plant, purple
Sage can be a beautiful addition to a water wise yard

Remove overhead spray sprinklers and replace with a water efficient irrigation system

Your new plants need water, but much less water than before. Take out those old sprinkler heads and replace them with an efficient, low water drip irrigation system. At this point, you’re looking at an area transformed by water wise choices!

Drip irrigation
Drip irrigation is efficient, cost effective, and fun to set up!

Get post project approval for your rebate

Your last task is to submit a report on the sustainable landscape approach selected, including a description of project area, turf removed (e.g. turf grass, artificial turf), new plants, ground cover, organic mulch, permeable hardscapes, weather based irrigation controllers that ensure water savings, etc.

approved, stamp, business

Is replacing my turf landscape really worth all that work?

It’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed when there are several big steps involved. Turf replacement can be a big deal. Agencies offering the turf rebate don’t always do a great job of describing the project process, including how to become eligible for the program, how to fill out the rebate application, what a turf removal plan looks like, what plants to buy, and how to present your transformed area.

Digging up a grassy lawn
It’s hard work, but $2-$3 per square foot adds up to hundreds, even thousands, in cash

It’s worth it if you like a lot of free money

At $2 or $3 per square foot, you’re looking at a rebate that is worth hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. If you budget your turf project wisely, this means that you can potentially break even, or better yet make money on your landscape project. Plus, the water savings you’ll experience after your project is completed means even more money in your wallet.

money, coin, plants, growing
In addition to the rebate, you’ll also find savings in your water bill

Find a turf replacement program for sustainable landscapes in your state

Many counties and cities offer turf replacement programs. These programs vary in several ways:

  • The rebate dollar amount per square foot (typically $2-$4 / square foot)
  • The maximum rebate allowed for single family homeowners (e.g. $3000 max) and commercial property owners (e.g. $20,000 max)
  • The number of calendar months you have to complete your project
  • The quantity and kind of plants you need to include
  • Additional features like those for stormwater retention

We are actively working on a list of all turf replacement programs in the United States, which you can find in our Rebates Database.