Enjoy an environmentally beneficial water-wise garden that thrives year round and saves water, money and time.
Lawn conversion rebate types
EBMUD offers three lawn conversion rebate types, along with design assistance.
All rebates are subject to the following maximums within a 2-year period:
- $2,000 for single-family and small multi-family homes
- $15,000 for commercial, municipal, and large multi-family properties (5+ units)
Standard Rebate - $1.25 / sq. ft.
Convert your thirsty lawn to a beautiful, resilient, water-wise garden.
- Remove lawn.
- Choose all low-water-use plants.
- Remove sprinklers, hand-water or convert to drip irrigation.
- Add 3 inches of mulch.
Median Strip Rebate - $2.50 / sq. ft.
*Commercial customers only.
It's nearly impossible to irrigate lawn median strips efficiently, so we're offering double our standard rebate to convert these lawn strips to waterwise plants and drip irrigation.
- Customer must have existing lawn that is actively maintained and irrigated by potable EBMUD water.
- Customer must not have started lawn conversion project. Project must not begin until EBMUD provides written notice of rebate application approval.
Refer to the rebate application for a full list of requirements.
How to apply
- Step 1. Review requirements listed on rebate application to make sure that your project is eligible. Remember to apply before starting your project!
- Step 2. Send in your completed application and photos of your existing lawn to EBMUD Water Conservation (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Step 3. Wait for written notice of approval from EBMUD before starting work.
After your application is approved
- Step 1. Convert your lawn. Get started by visiting our Lawn to Garden Design Center.
- Step 2. Notify EBMUD of your project completion, before your 9-month rebate deadline passes. We will ask for photos clearly showing the entire lawn area converted, plant coverage, mulch, and irrigation. Applicants who do not complete their project prior to the application deadline will lose their rebate eligibility. EBMUD may grant an extension if requested prior to the deadline.
- Step 3. After the post-completion inspection and the determination of the final rebate amount, the rebate is issued as a credit on your water bill. For residential customers, rebates of $600 or more in a single tax year require a W-9 form.
Resources for a successful project
- Rebate Application Tutorial Video: Instructions on how to fill out the rebate application.
- Sample Completed Landscape Application: Examples of a completed application along with examples of documentation required to finalize rebate.
- WaterSmart Gardener: Tools and resources to help you create a water-efficient landscape.
- Lawn to Garden: Sheet mulching tutorials and a materials marketplace.
- Low-Water Plants: Plants resources and search tools to create a waterwise plant list for your project.
- Rebate Eligibility Plant Database: Check to see if a specific plant is eligible for a rebate project.
- Landscape Rebate Virtual Office Hours: Virtual drop-in sessions over Zoom to ask questions about landscape rebate projects, offered Tuesdays from 12 - 1 p.m.
Frequently asked questions
- Convert lawn through sheet mulching to improve soil and plant health and reduce your yard waste, OR
- Physically remove lawn.
- Must cover at least 50% of the converted area once fully grown.
- Must be climate-appropriate, low-water-use plants that require little to no irrigation once established. Check plant eligibility in our plant database.
- No artificial turf or low-water turf alternatives (E.g., buffalograss) allowed.
- Sprinklers must be removed, capped, or converted to drip (how to video).
- If installing drip, include a pressure regulator and filter installed per manufacturer directions.
- Plants with different water requirements (E.g., trees, vegetable gardens) must be grouped into separate irrigation zones to ensure that plants are not overwatered.
- A minimum of 3 inches of mulch is required in planted areas and over exposed soil.
- No non-biodegradable weed barriers (E.g. landscape fabric, weed cloth, or plastic).
- Only permeable hardscape: any patios and walkways made of pavers or bricks should be set in a bed of sand, gravel, or decomposed granite, that allow water to pass through.
All standard lawn conversion rebate requirements (listed above) apply to the super rebate. Additional super rebate requirements are as follows:
- Convert existing lawn by sheet mulching in place with cardboard rather than physically removing the lawn. Mulch must be plant based (not rock/gravel).
- Apply a minimum ½-inch layer of compost in planted areas.
- Majority of plants must be CA natives. All plants must be low water use.
- Plants must be installed between September and February (cool, rainy season).
EBMUD encourages these four super rebate best practices to promote additional water conservation and environmental benefits.
- Sheet mulching, the process of layering cardboard and mulch on top of existing grass to compost it in place, improves soil quality and reduces landfill waste.
- Applying compost further encourages healthy soil and helps to increase the water holding capacity of soil.
- CA native plants are adapted to our dry summers. Once established, many CA native plants need minimal supplemental irrigation beyond normal rainfall. Additionally, CA native plants help to support local wildlife and increase biodiversity.
- Planting in the fall and winter allows new plants to utilize natural rainfall for establishment, thus requiring less initial irrigation.
No; the lawn conversion program is intended to incentivize the conversion of existing lawns and is not retroactive. Projects that have been started or completed (including removing the lawn) without formal EBMUD approval are not eligible.
Lawn conversion rebate projects are given a nine-month deadline to complete project after EBMUD application approval.
If you cannot meet your project deadline please reach out to the staff member who approved your application before your deadline passes. Extensions may be granted on a case-by-case basis, but are not guarenteed.
|Low water plants||Moderate-high water use or invasive plants (examples)|
|All edibles accepted for standard rebate (E.g., vegetables, fruit trees, herbs). Super rebate edibles must be low water use.||Sod grass, including "no mow" grass or lawn substitutes (E.g. buffalograss)|
|Permeable pathways or patios. Examples of permeable hardscape include pavers and bricks set in a bed of sand with no mortar or grout and decomposed granite.||Non-permeable pathways or patios (e.g., concrete, or pavers/flagstone/brick set in grout or mortar cement)|
|Dry creeks, basins, and swales for capturing rain (watershed approach)||Rocks or mulch without any plants|
|50% plant coverage or more to encourage healthy soil and prevent the urban heat island effect. For any new or existing trees, coverage includes the full canopy.||Less than 50% plant coverage|
|Cardboard paper, or other completely biodegradable weed barriers||Landscape fabric, any plastic or non-biodegradable weed barriers|
|Converting sprinklers to drip irrigation||Keeping existing sprinklers, or using adjustable bubblers or emitters|
|Removing sprinklers and hand watering (no irrigation system)||Artificial turf, due to environmental considerations such as plastic leaching, lack of viable recycling options, and the urban heat island effect|
All rebates that, individually or in combination, total $600 or more in a tax year require submittal of a W-9 form to the District prior to payment. All personal information provided within the W-9 is kept confidential in accordance with the Privacy Act.
If your total 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 may depend on several variables. It is recommended that contact your tax professional.
During any 24-month period, the combined rebate amount provided by EBMUD may not exceed $2,000 for residential and small multi-family properties (4 units or less), and $15,000 for commercial and large multi-family properties (5+ units). You may apply for an additional rebate after the 24-month period has elapsed.
Our rebate programs have expiration dates to allow us to make modifications as needed. Unless designated as a pilot on our website, most of our rebate programs will continue beyond the expiration date listed on the application.
Super rebate applications are accepted year round. We encourage applying early to maximize water savings and to get a head start on preparing for fall/winter planting. All aspects of the project besides planting can be completed outside of the "cool season" window. Nine month project deadlines allow time to meet the planting window requirement regardless of when the initial application is received.
Application and resources
|Landscape Rebate Application (combined) Jul-Dec 2023||3.9 MB|
|W-9 Form (required for rebates $600+)||<1 MB|
|Sample Completed Landscape Rebate Application||5.8 MB|
|Sample Drip Irrigation Layouts||2.0 MB|
|Drip Irrigation Guidelines||2.3 MB|
|Low Water-Use Plant List||2.5 MB|
|Requisitos para el reembolso por la conversión de jardines (Rebate Requirements - Spanish)||<1 MB|
|草坪轉換回扣 (Rebate Requirements - Chinese)||<1 MB|
|Rebate Eligibility Plant Database||MS Excel||<1 MB|