The desert friendly xeriscape conversion incentive rebate has been around since the early ’90s and is still going strong. Millions of square feet of thirsty lawns have been converted to healthy xeriscapes that save billions of gallons of water. Although the xeriscape conversion rebate’s application process has a few more steps than our other rebates, our experts are here to help you every step of the way. Remember to contact our xeriscape inspector, Amos Arber, before you stop caring for your lawn or start tearing it up.

Below, Amos answers some of the most frequently-asked questions.

Q: I want to replace my lawn with gravel because I’m trying to save water. Why do I need to include new plants in order to be eligible for a rebate?

A: The xeriscape rebate is meant to incentivize our customers to add a 50% coverage (at maturity) of new plants, drip irrigation, and mulch (gravel, crusher fines, wood chips) to encourage healthy xeriscapes. Plants provide a range of benefits, such as shading the ground to help our city stay cooler, providing wildlife habitat and keeping our neighborhoods looking beautiful.

Q: Do I have to convert my entire lawn to get the rebate?

A: No. Projects can be done in phases or only part of the lawn can be converted as long as it is at least 500 square feet.

Q: Will I receive a check from the Water Authority when the project is complete?

A: We do not issue checks. All rebates are credits towards your account. Participants do not have to pay on their account until the rebate is used up, which may take more than one year.

Q: Can I include a patio or pathway in the project area?

A: Yes. Plants do not have to be spread evenly throughout the former lawn area. They can be denser in some areas to accommodate a small patio or pathways.

Q: I want to replace my lawn with artificial turf. Can I get a rebate?

A: If the area of fake grass is small and you can fit in the required amount of plants in the rest of the project area, you can get the rebate. If the area of plastic lawn is covering all or most of the former living lawn area, you will not be able to meet the rebate requirements.

Q: Do I have to hire a professional to do the design or installation work?

A: No. We encourage folks to do the designing and installation work themselves and have many helpful resources. Not only can DIY projects save money but they can empower homeowners and help them feel comfortable performing necessary landscape maintenance.

Q: I’d like to convert my lawn, but I have no idea how to get started. What do I do?

A: Check out the Resources and Landscape Tips tabs on our website. We have several great articles on everything you need to know to get started. Another option is to ask our xeriscape expert Amos Arber (505-208-2015) to meet you on-site. He will explain the rebate process, tell you about important site conditions to consider, offer plant and design ideas and help you put together a list of questions to ask a contractor.

Q: Is it okay to use plants I’ve grown myself?

A: Yes. A good way of saving money is to transplant or propagate your own plants.

Q: Do you have any tips for doing a project on the cheap?

A: We encourage folks to do the projects themselves since DIY projects can save at least 75% of the cost of hiring a contractor. Other ways of saving money include using free woodchip mulch that’s available from tree services (gravel and weed fabric can be expensive) and purchasing bulk organic mulch to receive an extra $100 rebate. When purchasing container plants, compare costs. For example, a five-gallon rosemary plant gets the same number of plant points as quart-sized rosemary but costs 80% less. Also consider using recycled materials, such as broken concrete pieces, instead of expensive flagstones.

Q: I’ve already completed a xeriscape project but did not apply for a rebate or get my lawn inspected before it was removed. Can I still get a rebate?

A: Unfortunately, no. We need to document the existing lawn before it is removed. This ensures that our customers’ funds are used only to convert thirsty lawns.

Q: I don’t have a lawn but want to fix up my yard with new xeric plants. Can I get a xeriscape rebate?

A: No, however, we have lots of rebates that might apply for other yard renovation projects such as the Treebate.

Q: Some of the plants I want to use are not on the master plant list. Can I use those plants in my project?

A: If the plants you want to use are cultivated varieties of plants on our master plant list (plant names are listed in quotes), you can use them. If not, you are welcome to install them in your yard, but they will not count towards the required plant total for your project. Our master plant list contains over 600 plants proven to thrive in our area for all landscape types and conditions.

Author:  Amos Arber, Xeriscape Rebate Inspector with the Water Resources Conservation Department for the Water Authority. Have a question about the article? Want to start on your Xeriscape conversion project today? Click here to get started.

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