MODESTO (CBS SF) – California’s drought is driving more and more homeowners to give up their lush, green, water-guzzling lawns. Now, landscape companies are offering to rip them out for free, and water districts across the state are giving rebates as incentive.

Governor Brown has declared a 25% mandatory reduction in water use for the first time in the state’s history. Watering the lawn can drink up 10 gallons minute. In five minutes that lawn has guzzled as much water as a ten-minute shower, or a load of laundry.

Paul Helen who owns Modesto Landscapes, told the Huffington Post his customers are “extremely enthusiastic” when it comes to making their gardens more water-efficient. He offers free lawn removal for customers who hire him to install drought-friendly plants, and artificial turf. So far, 15 customers have signed up.

The savings are significant. According to Homewyse.com, the cost of removing a 500 square foot lawn can range from $800 to $1700 for labor, debris disposal and equipment. Southern California-based Turf Terminators has removed thousands of lawns and told Huffington Post on average, homeowners saw a $2200 reduction on their annual water bill.

 A river-like garden feature that uses marbles instead of water.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

A river-like garden feature that uses marbles instead of water. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)


To further offset the cost of installing a more drought-friendly landscape, homeowners can take advantage of rebates from cities and water districts across the state. Lawn removal rebates start at about $2.00 per square foot and can go as high as $3.75. There are also rebates for homeowners who install irrigation controllers, sprinkler nozzles and timers. East Bay Municipal Utility District will pay as much as $2500 for landscape and irrigation upgrades for a single family home.

Here is a list of some of the Bay Area Water Districts offering rebates — Check to see if your city offers similar programs

East Bay MUD
Marin Municipal Water District
The Santa Clara Valley Water District
North Marin Water District
Contra Costa Water District