The Fresno CA Lawn to Garden program pays you to use less water

With another drought season almost certain, the City of Fresno is offering Fresno homeowners the opportunity to turn off those sprinklers and reduce watering bills by turning lawns into garden types suitable for the region’s semi-arid climate. .

Through the Lawn to Garden rebate, the city will pay residents $1 per square foot to remove lawns and replace them with water-efficient landscaping. Offer is good for yards up to 1,500 square feet.


This can to be an ambitious undertaking. The work includes pulling grass, designing the landscape, selecting drought resistant plants, adding an irrigation system and mulch. But help is available, from the city and state of California.

Wendy Cornelius, of the City of Fresno’s Lawn to Garden project, said 245 residents have applied to participate in the program since July 2021. So far, 20 have completed the process. Some did the work themselves and others hired landscapers. Cornelius pointed out that anyone wanting to make a conversion must adhere to certain rules, as one of the main purposes is to help recharge Fresno’s groundwater.

This Fresno home was converted to a drought-tolerant landscape thanks to the city’s Lawn to Garden program. Special for the bee


  • You can’t just pave your yard with concrete, which will likely help make the city’s summers hotter than they already are.
  • For the same reason, no more than 35% of the project may consist of rock.
  • There is a timeline to follow, which includes an application, consultation with a city staff member, and approximately 120 days to complete the project, subject to approval. Cornelius said a 30-day extension can be requested.
  • There is a limit on yard size at 1,500 square feet.

The California Department of Water Resources maintains that about half of all water in homes is used outdoors. According to Cornelius, the state agency previously offered a financial incentive of $1.50 per square foot for landscape conversions, but that ended in 2017. Cornelius hopes this program will return to augment the city’s effort. .


Cornelius said there are different methods to remove your lawn if you choose to participate in the program. The first is solarization, which involves laying a black plastic cover over the grass and waiting a month or more for the vegetation to die. With Bermuda, the most common lawn in the region, solarization works best in the fall.

A second method is to place cardboard on the lawn and cover it with mulch.

The third method is to use an herbicide such as Round-Up. Anyone using the third option is advised to be cautious and wear gloves, boots, and other protective gear. An eco-friendly alternative to the harsh chemical is vinegar, but it cannot kill the roots of a hardy grass like Bermuda.


There are a myriad of plants and trees that use less water than a traditional lawn. Plants include jasmine, sage, thyme, and juniper. Apply a layer of mulch around the plants to reduce moisture loss. Choose organic mulches, such as shredded bark, compost, or aged sawdust.

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Originally from Colorado, Jim Guy studied political science, Latin American politics and Spanish literature at Fresno State University, and advanced Spanish grammar in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

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