Have you ever lost a thousand dollars? I just did, and boy do I feel stupid.
I thought I was so smart and so green and so groovy. I decided to xeriscape my rental house. There was at least 2,000 square feet of lawn that I ripped out to replace with a low-water landscape. I’m so cool. At least I thought so—until a neighbor walked up to me and said, “Did you know that the county will give you a rebate for ripping out your lawn and installing drought-tolerant plantings?”
Now I feel really smart, not only am I doing something really good for the environment—I’m going to get money back for doing my good deed.
My neighbor gave me a number for the county. I thought I was set. I dialed the phone. I talked to a nice gentleman who gently but very efficiently deflated my ego and my wallet by telling me that the county must be notified before the lawn is ripped out.
The inspector needs to examine the lawn and the irrigation system, and look at your water bill. The county will give you a rebate of a dollar a square foot up to $1,000. I had over 2,000 square feet of lawn, but the lawn, along with its irrigation system had already been ripped out.
And that is how I lost $1,000.
If you are planning to rip out your lawn to install a water-wise landscape, and you live in Santa Clara County, please call before you rip out your lawn. Be prepared to supply a copy of your water bill.
Cash-for-grass programs are available in many counties in California and in other states. If you live in an area that is prone to drought—or even an area that isn’t—check with your local water district to see if they provide a landscape rebate program.