Spring is usually a time of hope and anticipation for homeowners who are looking forward to enjoying their lush lawns and outdoor landscaping in the months ahead. But this year, spring is likely to be rife with ever-tighter water restrictions, greater outbreaks of weeds and more lawn pests than ever. It’s all the result of one of the warmest winters in recorded history and continued drought conditions in many parts of the country.
On average, the 2011-2012 winter was the fourth warmest in the United States for the past 117 winters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. At the same time, much of the country received less-than-average precipitation. For many areas, this meant less snow pack than usual, which will have “consequences for spring and summer water supplies,” according to the National Drought Mitigation Center.
At least moderate to extreme drought conditions are being felt in most of California, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, along the Gulf Coast, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia, eastern New York, Illinois, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota, and parts of Washington.
According to a roundup of winter weather statistics by weather.com, California had the second-driest winter on record and by late February, 72 percent of the state was in “moderate” drought. California had been drought-free at the beginning of the winter. In fact, snowpack was less than half of the seasonal average in portions of California, Nevada and Arizona, the meteorological website reported.
In addition cash rebates for replacing sod grass with fake grass, conservation incentives also are available for installing synthetic lawn as the initial landscaping for a home or business property. The list of cities and water districts that offer rebates is constantly changing. The best thing to do is call your local water utility company and ask about their rebate program.
To get an idea of what’s out there, you can visit the Association of Artificial & Synthetic Grass Installers Web site to get more information about many cities and districts that currently offer rebates.
However, here is information on some of the more established or ongoing programs.
The Southern California SoCal Water$mart program is one of the country’s most aggressive in offering rebates for synthetic grass installation — and with good reason.
“Turf grass is one of the most water-intensive plants in your landscape,” the agency’s website says. “Its high water and frequent maintenance needs make it a time-consuming, expensive option … Up to 70% of California’s entire residential water supply is applied to home landscapes.”
The SoCal Water$mart 2011-2012 program is now available. This program will run until April 30, 2012. If you live an city or water district that participates in the SoCal Water$smart program, you can receive $1 or more for every square foot turf that you remove.
Member agencies of the SoCal Water$mart program that offer turf-removal rebates include:
Los Angeles (County) Waterworks District offers a rebate of 30 cents per square foot for installing up to 500 square feet of artificial grass. You can download a PDF for more information.
The Municipal Water District of Orange County (Calif.) has a turf removal program that it operates in partnership with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and local retail water providers. Residential and small commercial customers of participating retail water providers are eligible to receive an incentive of $1 per square foot of turf removed for qualifying projects. More information is at the agency’s website.
In Arizona, several cities and water districts offer turf-removal incentives for residential customers:
- Peoria: up to $550
- Tempe: up to $500
- Mesa: $50-$225
- Scottsdale: up to $1,500 (up to $3,000 commercial)
- Glendale: up to $750
For complete information, visit the website of the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association.
In Nevada, the Southern Nevada Water Authority will rebate customers $1.50 per square foot of grass that they remove and replace with desert landscaping or artificial lawn, such as NewGrass. The maximum $1.50 rebate is for up to 5,000 square feet of sod grass converted per property, per year. Beyond the first 5,000 feet, the authority will provide a rebate of $1 per square foot. For details, visit the SNWA website.