How I got Cash for Grass: SoCalWaterSmart Turf Removal Program (Reveal)

New yard grown in a bit more
New yard grown in a bit more

I contacted several landscapers to give me bids.  Some never called me back, some came out and looked at the design and never sent me a bid, some sent me bids that were way higher than I had budgeted, and one called me back right away, seemed to know what he was doing, got me a reasonable bid and was at my house working within a week.  I went with Rafael Vasquez Landscaping.  I highly recommend him!

Landscaping Marked on Ground
Landscaping Marked on Ground

I should have had the landscapers’ people remove the lawn as they brought out a garbage bin to the house, and they worked 100 x’s faster than my gardner.

Front Yard Grown In
Front Yard Grown In

Rafael, the landscaper, and Maruta, designer extraordinaire,  worked out the exact plans and list of plants that we were going to install.  And Rafael, Maruta and I went shopping for rocks and plants.

Meanwhile, I worked on getting a permit waiver for re-landscaping the parkway.  (Area between the sidewalk and the street.) The parkway must be done following these guidelines for the permit fees to be waived.  A waiver or permit must be attached if you want to qualify for the  “California Friendly® Landscape Incentive Program” to get the rebate money for the parkway as well as your front and backyard lawns.

By submitting the plans for the parkway showing that I was going to use only approved drought tolerant grasses with a drip system, they were able to send me the permit fee waiver right away.  Quick and easy!

The installation of the new landscaping began.

The crew took out the existing sprinkler system and replaced it with a drip system and weed barriers were installed where there would be no plants.

Planters and the dry river bed was marked out in the dirt with spray paint so everyone knew exactly the sizes and locations of the elements to build.  Pavers were created out of existing cement I wanted removed from the backyard. Rafael’s men wired for the low voltage lighting system.  They installed the dry river bed, planted the plants and re-potted all of my pots.  Then decomposed granite (DG) was set in place and packed down and final mulch was put down to help control weeds and slow water from evaporating around plants.

I took pictures of the completed project and sent in section 2 of the rebate form.  I received notice that my rebate was approved, but I have not gotten the check yet.  Make sure you don’t spend more money than you can front, as the rebate might take a couple of months to come back.

Here you can see the completed project.  Keep in mind that the plants are basically like hair plugs on a bald man’s head.  The grasses will grow in and hedges will become large enough to divide the areas without being such blunt lines.

My Plant list:

Dymondia (Parkway)

Mondo Grass (Along river bed)

California Meadow Sedge (front half of backyard)

Mixed succulents

Birds of paradise

In front planters: rosemary, strawberry, dill, tomato, arugula, parsley, basil and sage

Backyard After Turf Removal
Backyard After Turf Removal

Trees: fig, avocado, grapefruit, plum, apricot in back section of backyard to create orchard with fire pit.  Apple and lime trees are being trained to grow up side of the fence wall and will eventually cover the entire white fence along with jasmine, butterfly bushes and bougainvillea.

Line between DG and Sedge will eventually be hedged with the lavender that has yet to grow in.

Other rebates and offers you might be interested in taking advantage of:

To get a free drip-water starter kit call 1-800-544-4498, press “5”

After of lawn
After of Back Yard

To get rebates for rain barrels:

To get rebates for Soil Moisture Systems:

Hummingbirds love to visit
Hummingbirds love to visit
Fire Pit surrounded by fruit trees
Fire Pit surrounded by fruit trees
Water Feature
Water Feature


Fire Pit and Orchard
Fire Pit and Orchard
Parkway After
Parkway After
Parkway in 2 months
Parkway after 2 months

10 thoughts on “How I got Cash for Grass: SoCalWaterSmart Turf Removal Program (Reveal)

  1. Thank you for the info. Would you email me Rafael Vasquez’s contact info? I would like to use him for my project.

  2. The yard looks so good! May I ask how much the whole project cost (before the rebate)? I really want to do this to my yard but have no idea the cost.

    1. I have to say, I spent a lot more than I thought I would. $1,000 was just on rocks…. $1,500 on plants…. and it took about a week to do. With projects think in terms of $1,000 a day for labor and you can see how expensive it was. BUT I will save a ton on tomatoes, avocados, plums, apricots, figs, grapefruits, strawberries and apples. At least that is what I keep telling myself.

    1. So sorry I took so long to get back to you. Due to the dry weather, it doesn’t look that great. But I attached some new photos to the blog so you can see the updates. The Dymondia (Parkway) and Mondo Grass (Along river bed) worked out the best. The CA Meadow Sedge is really much thicker and longer than I thought it would be.

  3. Hi,

    Can you tell me more about how you got the permit fee waiver? Where do you need to submit your plans to and how do you go about asking to have the fee waived? Did you just get an A permit?

    Thanks so much for the info!

    1. I am not sure if I am attaching this correctly, but this should be the link to the guidelines on how to get a permit waiver. If you choose to do only the approved plants as I did, you should be able to get a waiver.

      Here is the contact info:
      Alexander J. Caiozzo
      Landscape Architectural Associate I
      Department of Public Works
      Bureau of Street Services
      Engineering Division
      1149 S. Broadway, 4th Floor
      Mail Stop 550
      Los Angeles, CA. 90015


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