Lawn conversion rebate

Enjoy an environmentally beneficial water-wise garden that thrives year round and saves water, money, and time.


How much is a rebate?

Rebates are calculated based on square feet of lawn converted:
  • Standard: $1.25 / sq. ft.
  • Super: $2.50 / sq. ft.
  • Median Strip: $2.50 / sq. ft.
Maximum rebate in a 2-year period:
  • $2,000  for single-family and small multi-family homes
  • $15,000 for commercial, municipal, and large multi-family properties

What's new?

We're in a severe drought! EBMUD has increased rebate rates and will double your rebate to $2.50 per sq. ft. of lawn converted if you participate in either of our two pilot rebates:

Sticky monkey flower 1000 by 360

Super Rebate

Adopt the following best practices to qualify for double the standard rebate:

  1. Sheet mulch to remove lawn
  2. Add compost to replenish the soil
  3. Choose majority CA native plants tailor-made for local conditions
  4. Plant in the cool season, from September through February

Applications are accepted year round; apply early to get a head start before the planting window begins.

Median pilot rebate example 1000 by 360

Median Strip Rebate

Do you irrigate narrow strips of lawn surrounded by hardscape (e.g., sidewalk, street, parking lot) on a commercial, multi-family, or municipal property?  

Since it's nearly impossible to irrigate these areas efficiently with overhead sprinklers, we're offering double our standard rebate for converting from lawn to water-wise plants and drip irrigation.

Review examples of qualifying median strips. Reach out to waterconservation@ebmud.com with any questions about eligibility.


General eligibility requirements

To be eligible for a lawn conversion rebate, applicant must confirm that:

  • Existing lawn has been actively maintained and irrigated by potable EBMUD water.  
  • Lawn conversion project has not started.  Project will not begin until EBMUD provides written notice of pre-approval. 

Refer to the rebate application for a full list of requirements.  


How to apply

  • Step 1. Carefully review the requirements listed on the application to make sure that your project is eligible.
  • Step 2. Send in your completed application to EBMUD Water Conservation (waterconservation@ebmud.com). Please include photos of the existing lawn (see sample application for examples).
  • Step 3. Wait for pre-approval before starting work. 

After your application is pre-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 application deadline.  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


Frequently asked questions

Conversion Method

  1. Convert through sheet mulching to improve soil and plant health and reduce your yard waste, or
  2. Physical removal of lawn.

Materials

  1. A minimum of 3 inches of mulch is required in planted areas and over exposed soil (exceptions: cactus gardens, raised vegetable beds). A 1- to 3-inch layer of compost is recommended.
  2. Only permeable hardscape: Any patios and walkways made of pavers or bricks should be set in a bed of sand, gravel, or decomposed granite, to allow water to pass through.
  3. No plastic or non-biodegradable weed barriers (e.g. landscape fabric).

Plants

  1. Must cover a minimum of 50% of the converted area once fully grown.
  2. Must be climate-appropriate plants that require little to no irrigation once established.
  3. No artificial turf or low-water turf (e.g. buffalo grass) allowed.

Irrigation

  1. Sprinklers must be removed, capped, or converted to drip (how to video).
  2. If installing drip, include a pressure regulator and filter installed per manufacturer directions.
  3. Plants with different water requirements (e.g., established trees, vegetable gardens, drought-tolerant plants) are grouped into separate irrigation zones to ensure that plants are not overwatered. 

All standard lawn conversion rebate requirements (listed above) apply to the super rebate. Additional super rebate requirements are as follows:

  1. Convert existing lawn by sheet mulching in place with cardboard rather than physically removing the lawn.
  2. Apply a minimum ½-inch layer of compost in planted areas.
  3. Majority of plants must be CA natives.
  4. Plants must be installed between September and February (cool, rainy season). *Rebate deadline will account for planting window.

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 reqiring 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 without formal EBMUD pre-approval are not eligible.

Lawn conversion rebate projects are given a six-month deadline after EBMUD pre-approval. Super rebate deadlines will account for the required planting window and thus may be longer than six months.

If you cannot meet your project deadline, or would like to wait to plant in the cool season, please reach out to the staff member who approved your application before the deadline passes. Extensions will be granted on a case-by-case basis.

 

Eligible

Not eligible

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
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
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 multi-family properties (4 units or less), and $15,000 for commercial and large residential properties. You may apply for an additional rebate amount 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. Super rebate deadlines will allow time to meet the planting window requirement regardless of when the initial application is received.