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September 28, 2021
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More Utah areas offer cash incentives to remove turf, replace with water-wise plants

People wander through Jordan Valley Water Conservancy District Demonstration Gardens. (Mark Wetzel, KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — If you’re eager to transform your landscape to use less water but can’t really afford it, a large water district is offering cash incentives. Many homeowners interested in taking out turf are already applying to help cut the cost of changing a landscape.

The Central Utah Water Conservancy District launched two programs this month to incentivize homeowners to replace water-thirsty turf with water wise plants. These programs are available in Salt Lake, Utah, and Wasatch counties, and parts of several other counties. Go to utahwatersavers.com to check on your eligibility.

Elle Griffin and her husband are tired of a big irrigation bill that doesn’t even produce a lawn they like, so they looked into it.

“I’m watering weeds, and I’m watering grass that is dying anyway,” said Griffin, a Salt Lake City homeowner. “We’re just paying for irrigating grass in a state when we don’t even have much water, and we’re in a drought, and it just feels irresponsible at this point.”

So, they applied for Flip Your Strip. They’ll remove the grass from their park strip (the area between the sidewalk and the street) and replace it with water-efficient plants.

“I just want a lot of color in the yard,” said Griffin.

She hasn’t done this kind of thing before, and plans to borrow ideas.

“Our neighbor down the street has a beautiful yard that is completely xeriscaped. It looks beautiful all the time, and he never does anything, and uses no water. So, we’re going to try to replicate what he did.”

Homeowners can save an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 gallons of water each year by flipping their strip. The Central Utah Water Conservancy District conservation manager was in Salt Lake County today taking measurements to let homeowners know how much money to expect when they complete the project.

“We put a lot of water out in a small area of lawn that nobody uses for anything other than to look at,” said Rick Maloy. “So, replacing it with something that looks better just makes sense.”

The Griffins’ park strip measures around 200 square feet. So, when the homeowners finish the project, they’ll get around $200.

“We were trying to figure out how to do it ourselves. But, we’re just not that knowledgeable about it, and how to make it all work,” she said. “So, it was cool that this program popped up, and then it also provides resources like what plants will work.”

The other new program, Localscapes, is focused on landscapes well suited for Utah’s unique climate. Homeowners who want to put in a new landscape or redo what they have can qualify for Localscapes Rewards. The reward amounts will vary based on lot size, project size, and overall water savings. You must attend a free Localscapes class, offered in various locations and online, to get those rewards.

The water district wants to see some plants, not all gravel replacement.

“But, it’s really up to you, the homeowner,” said Maloy. “We’ve got a huge database of plants that work well here and you can go online and search through that.”

You can start by going to utahwatersavers.com and creating an account. There are several other water savings incentives there, too.

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