Imagine replacing a costly grass lawn with beautiful, carefree and water-wise synthetic turf. Now imagine getting a cash bonus for making the switch.
It’s not a dream. It’s an H2O-saving rebate for replacing natural grass with waterless landscaping, such as synthetic grass, with continued availability from many water agencies and municipalities.
Areas where water shortages or droughts have become a way of life – namely Southern California, Nevada and Arizona – are where water-saving rebates for replacing natural grass are most prevalent … and most rewarding.
Conserving water and $$$
Las Vegas residents who install artificial grass receive a $1.50 per square foot rebate from the city’s provider, with a limit of 5,000 square feet. Multiple Orange County providers are scheduled a $1.00/square foot rebate through April 2013. In Arizona, where rebates for artificial turf have been commonplace for years, Scottsdale homeowners get a minimum of 25 cents per square foot.
One of the most generous rebate programs is offered by the Moulton Niguel Water District of Laguna Niguel, CA. Their users can receive $1.50 per square foot of natural grass removed, PLUS $1.50 for each square foot of synthetic grass installed. This “double rebate” is funded in part from current excessive usage fees by residential customers who exceed monthly allotments set by MNWD.
Rebates are used as an incentive because water supplies are being outstripped by demand; in desert areas, 80% of residential water consumption is directly attributable to outdoor use. To stay green and healthy, a 500 square-foot natural grass lawn needs as much as 185 gallons per day. A single square foot of sod can drink 135 gallons of H2O annually. Water-smart landscaping, such as synthetic grass, guarantees conservation; a synthetic lawn needs no water to stay green, drought or not.
Since the Southern Nevada Water Authority began offering rebates to Las Vegas residents in 2002, an estimated 10 billion gallons of water that would have gone to irrigate lawns have been saved by its replace-natural-grass-with-artificial-turf program.
Water-saving rebates also conserve money for synthetic grass customers. The long-term affordability of an artificial turf lawn is enhanced by rebates that are typically issued by check within 90 days of installation; a rebate of $1.00 per square foot, for example, could mean an extra savings of 10% to 20% for the project.
Your rebate may vary
To learn if synthetic grass rebates are available in your area – and other qualifying details that might make the difference between getting a bonus and not getting a bonus — it’s essential to contact your water provider.
For participation, some agencies require pre-approval; often submitting a plan for the area to be turfed is sufficient, but some agencies mandate a site visit before and after synthetic grass installation. Most rebates are subject to minimum and maximum areas, or limits to the amount of the rebate. In some locales, such as Las Vegas, guidelines include the stipulation of planting water-tolerant live plants along with artificial turf in as much as 50% of the landscape space. In Scottsdale, one homeowner received a $275.00 rebate for installing a synthetic lawn throughout his backyard; only afterward did he learn he would have been eligible for a $550.00 rebate if he had also planted water-smart live plants.
Worst of all, some programs are often discontinued without warning, i.e. when the money budgeted for artificial turf rebates runs out. In 2006, the city of Palm Springs sponsored a $4.00 per square foot rebate for residential synthetic grass swaps; today there is no incentive. Incentives of up to $1.50 per square foot abruptly ended for most San Diego customers; as the San Diego County Water Authority’s website states on its Artificial Turf Rebates link: “Funding for this program has been exhausted.”
“That doesn’t mean the water companies don’t acknowledge that installing artificial turf saves a lot of water,” said Dave Koller, conservation coordinator for the Coachella Valley Water District. “It does.”