Replacing grass with drought tolerant plants for free?

8 Replies

So I came across an article on a company in Los Angeles that is ripping up lawns and replacing them with drought tolerant plants. It's all backed by the government so it's apparently free and they take care of it all including the paperwork with the feds.

They're quoted as savings upwards of $2,000 a year by replacing your lawn with these plants. Apparently they also install a drip water system so you basically have very little maintenance/gardening expenses on top of the water savings.

I guess as a landlord it would be a no brainer to increase cash flow, with zero expenditure.

However if you were to sell the property at a later time, do you think it would decrease it's appeal to buyers? Or could it be seen as a positive? I guess it would ultimately depend on how much longer California is in draught, but I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

cool idea. If I were in Cali I would probably do it

Hey @Shane Willcox , this sounds like a great idea. I am in the Los Angeles area and would love to have a service like this. What is the name of the company?


Hi @Shane Willcox  

I just attended a workshop (as an onlooker) at a home in the Faircrest Heights subdivision of L.A. where several volunteers came together to replace a grass lawn with a drought-tolerant lawn.

I believe it is free if you opt to hold the workshop on your lawn, but it would be worth contacting them for more info:

As to the value of the home, it depends on a lot of different factors. My opinion is that grass lawns still hold the most appeal, but I think that is changing with public education.

@Hyuma Leland   This is the (or one of the) programs.

I am considering using this company below. It might be the same company  @Shane Willcox  is talking about as they are located in Santa Monica.

It looks like they will act as the lawn conversion "agent".  From what I was told they will rip up your grass for "free" and pocket the dollars offered by the program above. 

Now if you were to handle the work yourself whatever monies calculated from the square footage you convert to native drought tolerant plants will be awarded to you personally. 

@Francis A.  yeah it seems like a great idea. 

Of course the day after I post this it's forecast to bucket down with rain. Hopefully a lot of it hits the catchments instead of flowing straight down the storm water drains and back into the ocean.

@Shane Willcox  We are in the process of ripping out the lawn in our primary home and replacing it with native plants. We attended a waterwise training class similar to the one @Joshua McGinnis  mentioned. We are adding lots of interesting features to our landscaping including a dry river bed, sitting area, and pavers. We believe the end result will be superior to a boring patch of green outdoor carpet. It will require less maintenance (lower gardener bills) and consume less water (lower water bills). Win-win-win!

With the current rebate programs available (as high as $3.75 per sq ft) and companies like Turf Terminators, I think now is the perfect time to upgrade your landscaping and save some serious money.


I did this at a couple of our rentals in Long Beach.  They give $3.50 per square foot.  The thing is, if you really want your landscape to shine--- it takes a lot of labor, plants/hardscape is expensive, and it will take some time for it to really look good.  

The first lawn I did went over budget. I spent a lot of time designing and creating hardscape paths, and dry river beds, because I enjoyed it.  It's very labor intensive to remove a lawn.  There's other routes, like solarization (black tarp to kill everyrhing ) or to slowly kill the grass with RoundUp then mulch. But these take a lot of time.  The second one I barely kept it under budget because labor, good DG (hardscape decomposed granite), Gravel/ pebbles, plants are expensive.

It will definitely save in costs over time for buy and hold.  I don't think it appeals to as many people for fix and flips

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