The Growing Attraction to Turf Conversion Rebate Programs

VCTO - Oynx - #1Over a half acre of turf was removed at Onyx Apartments and replaced with water-wise landscaping saving Oynx more 500,000 gallons of water a year. VCTO - Oynx - #2Succulents, agave, and other California Friendly® plants replaced turf that had suffered from drought conditions. VCTO - Oynx - #3Water-intensive plants like hedges were replaced and inefficient spray irrigation was swapped out for smart-controlled drip irrigation. VCTO - Oynx - #4Attractive stonework and strategic plant placement with water-wise plants increased the appeal of the Onyx grounds for residents and would-be renters.

There’s a lot more than just the severe water shortage changing landscapes in California. Public works rebate programs, many of which went into effect in 2009, are gaining in popularity due to commercial and residential real estate owners who are quickly realizing that replacing turf with drought-tolerant landscaping can be as financially rewarding and beautiful as it is good for the environment.

Case in point: Oynx, a high-end apartment community in southern California’s Warner Center.

When Updating Means Saving & Conserving

When the management of Oynx first contacted ValleyCrest, they knew they needed an update to their grounds and irrigation system. But while they had a vision, they didn’t have the plan or expertise to make it happen. What’s more they didn’t know about the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP)-sponsored rebate program for turf conversion projects—that is until they started working with ValleyCrest.

Cash Rebates and Attractive Landscaping – a Win-Win

The LADWP California Friendly® Landscape Incentive Program awards businesses and home-owners cash rebates for every square foot of water-hungry turf removed and replaced with drought-tolerant material. Working with ValleyCrest and partnering with them on the paperwork, Onyx was able to take advantage of this program, and get newly updated beautiful landscaping in the process.

First, the ValleyCrest experts tore out tired turf, much of which had gone brown as a result of the drought, and replaced it with attractive hardscaping, such as dry creeks, and landscaping featuring agave, succulents, grasses and other water-wise plantings. The new landscaping also extended to the pool area, transforming it into what is now a popular social gathering place beautifully accented by vibrant grounds.

Inefficient and high-water-use spray irrigation was upgraded to drip and irrigation controllers were swapped out for smart controllers that automatically regulate watering based on seasonal and weather conditions.

Management and residents alike have welcomed change and the appeal of Onyx has grown among prospective tenants

Big Savings and a Big Check

Onyx not only achieved their goal of creating a welcoming, water-wise environment, they also realized substantial water cost savings and reaped the awards of the LADWP rebate program.

Recently, at an award ceremony at the Apartment Owners Association Trade Show and Landlording Conference, representatives from LADWP presented a rebate check for nearly $20,000 to Oynx for replacement of nearly half an acre of the property’s grass with California Friendly® landscaping.

During the awards ceremony, Penny Falcon, Manager of Water Conservation Policy, Legislation and Grants at LADWP, said, “The Onyx project will conserve approximately 500,000 gallons of water each year, amounting to significant savings to the apartment complex’s water bill.”

Tax-Free Rebates and Increased Incentives in California

Falcon encouraged other property owners to do the same and with a bill signed in September 2014 by California Governor Jerry Brown making such rebates tax-free and the recent increase in rebate fees for the LADWP program from $3 to $3.75 per square foot of turf conversion, chances are more and more commercial and residential property owners will take up the cause and convert their turf to water-wise landscapes.


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  1. […] in with your local water authority to see if your project qualifies for any of the cash-for-grass rebate programs. Typically these programs require that you replace existing turf with qualified low-water-use […]

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