Turf Replacement Program FAQs – English – SoCal Water$mart
TURF REPLACEMENT PROGRAM
Frequently Asked Questions

I applied for a rebate under the Landscape Transformation Program, how will the changes for the Turf Replacement Program affect my application?

Under the new turf replacement program, you may be eligible for additional footage on your claim as well as additional funding. Metropolitan Water District will automatically be applying the increased rebate amount per foot to each claim currently in process. If you have applied, you will have your rebate amount increased. If you have additional footage listed above the 10,000 you originally applied for, the rebate will be increased to reflect the additional footage, up to a new maximum of 50,000 square feet.

If you have additional footage you have not claimed, but are already replacing, please call the rebate program and advise a representative of changes. Any additional footage will be evaluated and may be considered eligible, if all program requirements are otherwise met.

My local agency is offering additional rebate money, how much can I expect under the new changes?

The new limit on square footage under the turf replacement program is 50,000 square feet for funding provided by Metropolitan Water District. If your agency is offering additional rebate money, it will still be subject to the previous footage cap of 10,000 square feet at this time.

If you apply for 50,000 square feet, and your water agency is offering $1.00 per square foot (in addition to the funding offered by Metropolitan) here is an example of what your rebate may look like.

  • Total Footage Requested: 50,000
  • Metropolitan Rebate: $2.00/sq. ft. x 50,000 sq. ft. = $100,000
  • Local Agency rebate: $1.00/sq. ft. x 10,000 sq. ft. = $10,000
  • Total rebate: $110,000

Pre-project: Approval to Proceed

  • Before you begin your project or remove any turf, you must apply for and receive an approval to proceed.
  • The pre-project approval to proceed will specify the estimated rebate amount based on the measured area and information you provided. Note: It is important that you measure your project area(s) accurately. Once your project start has been approved, your rebate amount cannot be increased from the amount approved.
  • Visit the SoCalWater$mart Turf Replacement Program Application to apply online for your approval to start your project.
  • Items to have ready before going online:
    • At least 5 color photos of the areas where you plan to remove turf. Read the Turf Replacement Program FAQ Page, “What are the Photo Guidelines for Turf Replacement”, to see what types of photos are required.
    • A simple landscape plan which shows the area to be transformed and the type and location of your selected stormwater retention feature. Visit the Sustainable Approach page for more information on eligible stormwater retention features.
    • A photo or scanned copy of your recent water bill.
  • Set up an account with a valid email address and password. Be sure to use a current email address because all information about your rebate will be sent to this email account. The account will allow you to log back in after your project is complete to claim your reserved funding (see Post Project details below). Do not begin your work until you receive an email approval to start your project. This may take approximately two weeks.
  • Once you receive approval, you have 180 days to complete your project.
  • After completing your project, you are ready to submit Post Project: Request for Rebate.

How do I apply for my rebate?

Post-project: Request for Rebate Application

  • Once your project has been completed, visit the Turf Replacement Rebate Application to request your rebate by completing “Post Project: Request for Rebate Application”
  • The project start approval will specify the estimated rebate amount based on the square footage and information provided. Your square footage amount cannot be increased from the original amount reserved.
  • Login as a “Returning Turf Replacement Applicant” using your original email and password.
  • Submit a minimum of eight color photos of your completed project area consisting of:
    • The new plant coverage installed.
    • The sustainable landscape approach selected (i.e. rain garden, rain barrel, etc.).
    • At least one of each area where turf was removed.
    • The overhead irrigation conversion or modification incorporated.

NOTE: Read the Turf Replacement Program FAQ Page to see requirements for quality of photos required.

  • There may be a post-project site inspection, provided by Metropolitan’s inspector.
  • It may take up to 2 weeks to review your application. Once all of the correct documents have been received and reviewed, and an inspection has been completed (if needed) you will be advised of the status of your rebate via email or your online dashboard. Upon approval, you will receive your rebate in 8-10 weeks.
  • After completing your project, you are ready to submit Post Project: Request for Rebate.

How do I check the status of my Turf Replacement rebate?

You may check the status of your Turf Replacement rebate by whichever method you choose:

  1. Logging back into your account at https://mwdturf.conservationrebates.com/
  2. Calling 888-376-3314 and either using the automated phone system to check the status of your application, or speaking with a representative.
  3. Emailing a message to TRPrebates@egia.org. Please allow up to 48 hours for an email response to your inquiry.
  4. Using the Live Chat feature on the website.

Why should I consider removing turf from my landscape?

Turf grass is a commonly used in landscaping. Unfortunately, it also requires a large amount of water, time, and money to maintain in our Southern California climate. Conversion to a California Friendly™ and native 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, turf is located in places where it is underutilized or not needed, such as side yards, parkways, street medians, around parking lots, and in business landscapes without pedestrians. Many customers find that they can remove turf in their landscape while improving the usefulness and curb appeal of their property. In fact, California Friendly™ and native 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?

At a minimum, you must currently have grass to be eligible for the program and receive project start approval before removing your turf. There are several other requirements. Please visit the Turf Replacement Program Overview for details. Additional details are listed under the program terms and conditions.

What are the Photo Guidelines for Turf Replacement?

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

  1. Must be in color. turf_res_before2 turf_dont3
  2. Cannot be a up-close shots of grass or plants. We recommend you stand back far enough to include your home, street, or fence as a reference point. turf_res_after2 turf_dont2-1 turf_res_before2 turf_dont1
  3. Cannot be an online image such as Google street view turf_dont4
  4. Must include enough photographs to represent the converted area footage.

How can I measure my project area?

See below for simple square footage calculations. For more complex square footage calculations, it may be necessary for you to request assistance from your contractor or landscaper. In some cases, your local water agency may also be able to offer assistance to ensure accurate measurements.

How to measure the square footage of your project area

To measure your project area, gather the following tools and follow the steps below. There are also online satellite imagery websites that may be able to help you measure your lawn’s square footage. If you will be using a contractor for completion of your project, ask that they measure your project area to ensure the correct amount of square footage is requested in your application.

Tools you will need:

Steps for measuring your lawn:

  1. Utilize the graph paper to make a drawing of your home and the borders of your yard. Write in any descriptions of nearby items such as driveways, fences, or sidewalks. This will help you orient yourself.  photo
  2. Divide the project area into easily measured shapes such as rectangles, squares, triangles and circles. A list of formulas to find the square feet of these shapes is included below.              photo
  3. Take measurements to find out the square footage of each shape in your yard. Then add up the square footage of each shape for total square footage. photo

Helpful formulas to find square footage

There are many online “area calculator tools” that will calculate the square footage of common shapes after you enter in the required measurements. Click here for one example.

Squares, rectangles, and triangles will be the most common shapes in your yard. The formulas for finding their square footage are below. If you have more unusual shapes, you can find out how to calculate their square footage on many websites such as this one.

Square or Rectangle

Height multiplied by Width = Square Footage

photo

Triangle

Height multiplied by Width and divided by 2 = Square Footage

photo

Note: Accuracy in footage is very important. We cannot increase your footage after your project has been pre-approved, so please strive to provide as accurate information as possible in your application. Please note that your water agency may review your requested footage and reduce the project area if a discrepancy is noted.

What is 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 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.

Is a parkway eligible for conversion through this program?

The parkway area of the home is front eligible for conversion through this program. If only parkways are being transformed they must meet the 250 sq. ft. minimum turf removal requirement. Applicants are also required to follow all additional guidelines and requirements applicable to parkways as stipulated by their local city or water agency.

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 SoCalWater$mart Turf Replacement Program is an incentive program designed to encourage homeowners to consider removing their turf. If you have already converted your existing turf, your request for a rebate will be denied.

Can I submit an application for my backyard if I have already received a rebate for my front yard conversion?

Yes, you may submit one application per Metropolitan’s fiscal year, which is from July through June of the following year. So, you could submit an application for the backyard the following year.

How long do I have to complete the project?

After receiving project start approval, you will have 180 days to complete your project and submit the Post Project rebate application.

What are the approved turf conversion options?

Your landscape conversion must not include any live turf or turf-looking grasses. It must include 3 plants per 100 square feet. Existing trees that remain in the converted project area count towards this requirement. Applicants are required to have some of the area where turf was removed replanted with live, drought tolerant landscaping. Plants must be planted in the ground. Potted plants will not qualify toward plant coverage. Plants may be distributed at will throughout the project area. Total plant count must equal three plants per 100 square feet.

Your conversion must be permeable to air and water. Areas with concrete and other surfaces that water and air cannot move through will be disqualified. Turf areas replaced with structures or any impermeable surfaces will not be eligible for the rebate. (Please exclude these turf areas from your measurements to avoid program disqualification.) Some examples of built structures include: raised patios, decks, and garages. Pathways with broken concrete, flagstone, or other like materials may be used, but cannot be filled in with cement. Synthetic turf is not allowed.

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 SoCalWater$mart Turf Replacement Program does not maintain an internal list of approved plants for turf conversion. There is, however, a website with recommended native plants at calscape.org. Please also visit the BeWaterWise California Friendly Gardening Guide to browse a catalog of plants, or visit California Friendly gardening guides for various cities/water agencies. Please note that turf, turf-looking grasses, or invasive plants do not qualify even if they are drought-tolerant or California native. You can view invasive plants here http://www.cal-ipc.org/plants/inventory/.

Can I keep my plants in decorative pots?

No. The plants need to be planted in the ground, unobstructed by pots. This allows the roots to spread through the ground and promote soil biodiversity. Having plants in the ground will also reduce soil erosion and improve the entry and storage of water.

What happens if I reserve the wrong amount of funding?

Reservations are awarded based on the measured 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.

Will my rebate be taxable?

If your rebate amount is $600 or more you will receive a 1099 form to comply with Internal Revenue Service requirements. The determination of whether your rebate is taxable or not may depend on several variables, you are recommended to contact your tax professional.

How may I participate in the program if I have less than the minimum 250 square feet to qualify?

Select “Yes” on the application where it asks, “If > 250 sqft will all turf on site be removed?” Do not select yes if you have more than 250 square feet on site, and plan on removing less than the minimum square feet required. This applies only to those who have less than 250 square feet of turf.

I don’t have 250 square feet of turf to transform in my front yard, am I still eligible?

The Turf Replacement Program is a “front yard first” program, therefore for any project the front yard must either be transformed first, or as a part of the overall project. The following guidelines may be evaluated to determine your eligibility:

  • 250 square feet of existing turf must be removed from the front yard before other areas on the property are eligible.
  • If the front yard has previously been transformed, applicants may remove turf from other areas without including any footage for turf removal in the front yard.
  • If the front yard has less than 250 sq. ft., but has some existing turf, all turf in the front yard must be removed before other areas may be considered eligible for the Turf Replacement rebate.

When filling out your online application, be certain to select the correct options regarding the front yard area in order to be considered eligible. Please note that if you state that your front yard was previously transformed, you must submit a photo of the front yard area for verification of the previous conversion.

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 your water agency funding has been reduced or depleted.
  • Reserved funding is determined based on requested footage. 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 the 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 $2 per square foot of rebate funding up to a maximum of 5,000 square feet for residential and 50,000 square feet for commercial.

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

I just received an email canceling my rebate? Why did this happen?

  • The rebate may have been canceled because:
  • Your reservation has expired
  • Your rebate has been denied for not meeting the program requirements

Why was I denied in the Post Project application for transforming less than 250 square feet of turf after I was initially pre-approved when I first submitted my application?

It was later determined that you had more than 250 square feet on site, and were only planning on transforming a small portion of the grass. If there is more than 250 square feet of turf on the property, you must transform the minimum of 250 square feet of turf to qualify.

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 Replacement 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.

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.

What is sustainable landscaping?

Sustainable landscaping encompasses a variety of practices that have developed in response to environmental issues and a desire to create multi-benefit landscaping. These practices are used in every phase of landscaping, including design, construction, implementation and management of residential and commercial landscapes that transcends water-use efficiency to address the related benefits of rainwater capture and use; reduction of pollution, greenhouse gases, and green waste; energy and cost savings; and human and wildlife habitat improvements.

What is a rain garden?

A rain garden is a planted depression filled with a loose and permeable soil mix that is designed to collect rainwater from roofs, driveways, walkways, and parking lot surfaces. The rainwater collected in the rain garden is stored temporarily in the soil mix and surface ponding area, and then slowly seeps into surrounding soils over several hours and days. Plants are distributed throughout the garden. The rain garden is intended to capture water in your landscape to prevent runoff into the streets.

What is a rock garden?

A rock garden is a garden laid out among rocks or decorated with rocks and adapted for growth of particular kinds of plants. It is a garden in which plants grow between rocks. A rock garden is a shallow depression that is filled with 1 to 3 inch diameter gravel. Much like the rain garden, rainwater is stored in the void spaces between the stones where it can be held for several hours before it percolates into the soil. However, unlike the rain garden, the rock garden does not have a ponding area or plantings – you can walk on it.

What is a dry river bed?

Dry river beds are areas designed to slow heavy flows from rainfall and correct erosion problems. It is made up of a shallow swale lined with stone substantial enough to withstand a serious downpour. Large chunks of stone are used to slow the speed of storm water and to prevent erosion. In a garden, the careful placement of water-worn stone, or river slicks, along a swale is aesthetically pleasing and also provides an ideal place for plants.

What is a vegetated swale?

A vegetated swale is a shallow ditch that has gently sloping sides. Native perennial grasses are planted along the bottom and sides of the swale to slow runoff, filter sediments, and remove excess nutrients. A swale relies on gravity to move water and is designed to direct the water where you want it to go, such as flower or vegetable gardens. In order for the water to gravity flow it is recommended that there be a minimum 2% slope from beginning to end. The primary purpose in dry climates is to protect structures and to slow down or divert water. Organic mulch should not be placed around any plants installed in the bottom or sides of the swale.

What is a grade?

This is surface grading of an area so that water collects and flows to a lower elevation away from the site. Regardless of surface characteristics, when it comes to surface drainage, slope is the most important issue to consider. For efficient drainage, paved surfaces are recommended to have a minimum 1% slope. Turf or landscaped areas are recommended to have a minimum slope of 2%.

What is a berm?

Berms are mounds of earth with sloping sides that are located between areas of approximately the same elevation. Berms are constructed to direct or redirect drainage in order to keep water from flowing off the property.

How large does my sustainable feature need to be?

The size of your sustainable feature will depend on the size and type of your project as well as the type of sustainable feature you choose to install. The chosen sustainable feature should be proportional to the area where it is installed. It should be able to capture most, if not all, of the rainwater that falls during an average rain event.

What do I need to submit for a landscape plan?

A simple drawing or sketch of your project plan will suffice. This should show what changes you will be making to transform your landscape and include the type and location of your selected stormwater retention feature, type of ground cover to be used and where you intend to include your plants.

Your completed project must have at least three (3) plants per 100 square feet. It must include a storm water feature designed to capture rainfall through infiltration or on-site storage for reuse. Eligible techniques include: rain gardens, rock gardens or dry riverbeds, swales, berms and grades are used for infiltration. Rain barrels and cisterns are used on-site to capture rainfall for reuse.

Submittal of a landscape plan is for reference only. Landscape plans are not reviewed for program requirement compliance. Approval of your application is not an approval of your submitted landscape plan. If your landscape plan and completed project do not meet the program requirements, your project may be denied.

Do I need to provide receipts?

Receipts are not required, but it would be helpful if you can provide receipts in order for us to analyze costs for these types of projects.

Can I include artificial or synthetic turf in my project?

Synthetic turf is not allowed in a Turf Replacement Program project. Metropolitan Water District’s Turf Replacement program is being offered as a new program designed to promote water use reduction and sustainability. These gardens promote sustainability by providing stormwater retention and pollution reduction, wildlife habitat, urban cooling, and increased biodiversity. While synthetic or artificial turf does achieve a water use reduction in the landscape, it does not meet the sustainability goals of the program.

Will someone come out to inspect my project?

We reserve the right to verify and inspect any project. If the Turf Replacement cannot be verified and measured, the applicant will be required to refund the rebate amount, including all associated processing costs. Access to the area transformed must be provided.

Do I have to put in a new irrigation controller?

No, a new irrigation controller is not required, though a smart controller is recommended if you have an automatic irrigation system which you have converted to drip irrigation. No irrigation controller is needed if you plan to hand water your converted landscape.