Turf Removal

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I consider removing turf from my landscape?

Turf grass is commonly used for home and business landscapes. But it is an expensive option, which consumes a large percentage of a property’s water use and requires regular maintenance. Conversion to a California Friendly™ landscape may dramatically reduce both water and maintenance expenses. An example of potential savings is an experiment conducted using two properties in Santa Monica. One was a traditional turf landscape and the other was converted to a California Friendly™ landscape. Over the years, the California Friendly™ landscape has used 83% less water and required 68% less maintenance than the traditional turf landscape. You can see the details of this experiment here.

Often times, turf is used in places where it is underutilized or not needed, such as in a side yard that is never used, parkways, street medians, around parking lots, and in business landscapes without pedestrians. Many customers find that they can replace some or all of the turf in their landscape without reducing the curb appeal of the property. In fact, California Friendly™ landscapes not only save water and money, but they can be a beautiful, unique, and interesting replacement for traditional turf. Visit Metropolitan Water District’s California Friendly Garden Guide for inspiration and tips.

What are the requirements to participate?

You must have grass to be eligible for the program and receive project start approval before removing your turf. Visit the Commercial Turf Program Overview for details. Additional details are listed under the program terms and conditions.

What are the Photo Guidelines for Turf Removal?

In order for your reservation or rebate application to be approved, the photographs provided must meet the following criteria:

  1. Must be in color.
  2. Cannot be close-up shots of grass or plants. We recommend you stand back far enough to include your street, or fence as a reference point.
  3. For large properties, an aerial photo, or online image, such as Google Images, of the property will be accepted as one of the color photos.
  4. Must include enough photographs to represent the converted area footage.
The following photos meet the criteria for Commercial turf removal:


The following photos do not meet the criteria for turf removal:


What is considered a parkway?

The parkway is the area between the street and the sidewalk. If your street does not have a sidewalk, the area up to the street is considered part of your front or side yard. This does not refer to a driveway or concrete area for parking. If you elect to convert a parkway, you may be required to follow additional guidelines as indicated by your city, including obtaining a permit or waiver for the conversion.

Can I request a pre-approval if I have already begun my project?

No, you must request your pre-approval prior to removing your turf. If you have already begun work, your request for a pre-approval will be denied.

Can I receive a rebate now for work I have already completed if I did not know about the rebate program when I converted my yard?

No, you must request your pre-approval prior to beginning any work. The SoCal Water$mart Turf Removal program is an incentive program designed to encourage homeowners and businesses to consider removing their turf. If you have already replaced your existing turf, your request for a rebate will be denied.

Can I receive a rebate now for work I have already completed if I have photos showing there was grass in the areas I converted?

No, you must have grass currently in place to be considered eligible for a rebate. Submission of requests for work that has already been completed with photographs that are not current is considered a fraudulent use of the Turf Removal Program.

Can I convert a portion of the turf at this time, and receive another incentive for turf removal for additional areas at another time?

Yes, you are allowed up to the maximum rebate allowance each fiscal year. You may submit more than one application per fiscal year up the maximum allowed. The program currently allows up to $25,000 total in Metropolitan funding per fiscal year at a rate of $1 per square foot for commercial customers, and up to $50,000 total in metropolitan funding ($2 per foot for first 3,000 square feet, and $1 per square foot thereafter up to the maximum) for public agency projects. Please visit FAQ “how is a public agency defined?” to determine how your property is categorized. Phased projects for a single property may require a site map for the individual project areas to be clearly defined.

How long do I have to complete the project?

After receiving project start approval, you will have 120 days to complete your project and submit Part 2 (rebate application).

What are the approved turf conversion options?

Your landscape conversion must not include turf or turf looking grasses, include plants, and be permeable to water and air. Examples of projects that are not permeable to water and air are concrete, home additions such as garages, and swimming pools. In addition, each water agency may have additional requirements. Visit the estimate my rebate page for details on your water agency’s specific requirements.

Is there an approved plant list I can use to plan my conversion project?

The SoCal Water$mart Turf Removal Program does not maintain an internal list of approved plants for turf conversion. There is, however, an extensive database of approved plants listed on Bewaterwise.com. Please visit the BeWaterWise California Friendly Gardening Guide to browse the catalog, or visit California Friendly gardening guides for various cities/water agencies. Please note that turf, or turf-looking grasses do not qualify even if they are drought-tolerant or California native.

Why do you require a receipt for synthetic turf?

A receipt is required for all products rebated by the Socal Water$mart rebate program. In order to qualify for a synthetic turf rebate, it must be allowed by your local water agency, and the receipt must reflect the following:

  • The purchase of synthetic turf (not install-only).
  • Payment details which reflect the product was paid for in full.
  • The quantity of synthetic turf purchased (must match amount of footage requested).
  • Customer details, if applicable.

Can I mix and match conversion options?

Yes, however, you still must adhere to all program requirements for each type of conversion option. For example, if your conversion is for 1000 square feet of turf, and you are replacing 500 square feet with synthetic turf, you must convert the remaining 500 square feet per program guidelines and include plant life as required by your water agency.

What happens if I find out that I made a reservation with the incorrect area measurement once I begin the work?

Reservations are awarded based on the area submitted when a reservation is requested. It is important that you accurately measure the area requested as we cannot increase your area measurement after the reservation is granted. We encourage you to be as accurate as possible in requesting your reservation to ensure you are reserving funding for all area being converted.

Can I request a reservation with an estimated area measurement?

You may submit a request for estimated area measurement for a reservation. Please note that if the estimate is short of the actual measured area, we cannot increase the area measurement after the reservation has been approved. If your photos do not represent the amount of area requested, you may be asked to measure the area again. If the photos show more dirt than grass, large areas which are dirt, or otherwise non-eligible areas, your application may be denied or you may be asked to measure the area again to exclude areas which are not eligible. These areas may include dirt, concrete or structures.

I just received my reservation rebate approval email, and the rebate/reserved amount is less than expected. Why would the amount be reduced?

The rebate amount may be reduced for several reasons. The following are some possible reasons why your expected rebate has been reduced:

  • Rebate funding is limited, and is allocated based on availability. If you received less reserved/approved funding than expected, it is possible that water agency funding has been reduced or depleted.
  • Reserved funding is determined based on requested area measurement. In review, it may have been determined that some areas requested did not qualify. If this is the case, these areas may have been removed.
  • Approved rebate funding is based on actual area converted. In some cases, your water agency will review the area requested and reduce the area if it is determined that the estimate was greater than the actual yard area converted.
  • Metropolitan currently allows $1 per square foot of rebate funding up to a maximum of $25,000 per fiscal year for commercial customers, and $2 per square foot of rebate funding up to 3,000 square feet with $1 per square foot thereafter to up to a maximum rebate of $50,000 per fiscal year for public agencies. After having achieved the cap in rebate funding from Metropolitan, you cannot receive additional rebate funds until the next fiscal year (July 1-June 30).

If you have had your area measurement or rebate amount reduced, please call 888-376-3314 for more information on your particular case.

I received information from a contractor who says that they can convert my landscape for free, or at reduced cost due to the program. Is this legitimate?

There are some contractors within the MWD service territory who are enrolled in the Contractor Direct Rebate Option (CDRO). If a contractor states that they are enrolled in this service, they will apply for you and receive the rebate in lieu of out of pocket payment from you if you sign a release form waiving your right to the rebate. It should be noted that though these contractors are enrolled in this option, they are in no way affiliated with, or representative of the SoCal Water$mart rebate program. You should still familiarize yourself with the program guidelines even if you have decided to use a CDRO contractor to complete your work. You may download and review a copy of the commercial release form here.

I hired a contractor for a free or reduced cost landscape conversion, and I would now like to cancel my agreement with them. How can I cancel the application and reapply?

If you hired a contractor who uses the program to offer a free or reduced landscape conversion by accepting the rebate for your conversion in lieu of out of pocket payment, they are required to provide you with a release form to sign. If you have signed this release, and the contractor has not yet started the work, you may download the customer release cancellation form here. The fastest and easiest way to cancel with the contractor is to communicate with them first, so we do advise that you first contact them to resolve any issues that may have arisen with the conversion project. If you elect to submit an application after cancelling with the contractor, you will need to meet all of the same guidelines for eligibility to reserve funds.

I own an apartment complex. Is my property residential or commercial?

Any property with 4 units or less should apply under the residential program. Any properties with 5 units or more qualify under the commercial program.

How is a "Public Agency" Defined?

For the purposes of the Turf Removal Program, “public agency” shall mean any county, city, whether general law or chartered, municipal corporation, town, school district, special district or water district that is located within the geographic areas served by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Metropolitan). “Public agency” also shall include any state agency, department or division, to the extent that it is situated on property that is located within the geographic areas served by Metropolitan. “Public agency” shall not include any for profit, non-profit, not-for-profit, mutual benefit, public benefit or quasi-public entity or corporation.

I am not receiving emails from the program, what can I do?

If you are having difficulty receiving or viewing emails from the rebate program, you may try the following:

  • Check your spam or quarantine folders for emails. If found, please mark “not spam” for future communications to be routed to your inbox.
  • Add our program email address to your address book, or add to your “allowed” list. The turf removal program email address is TRPrebates@egia.org.
  • Contact your email service provider and request that they allow emails from our email address or organization. Your email provider may be able to assist you in adjusting your email settings.



Click below to verify eligibility and identify the current rebate amounts for your new water saving device(s) or measure(s). Rebate amounts may vary by water agency and are based on the availability of funding.

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