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Smart Landscape Rebate
updated: Jan 31, 2014, 12:30 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Seeking general advice / tales from edhatters who have successfully or unsuccessfully applied for the City of Santa Barbara's Smart Landscape Rebate program for low water relandscaping. Specifically interested in hearing from anyone who has already removed lawn and plantings before pre-qualification inspection.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 490912P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 12:44 PM

I called about a year ago, and it felt like the guideline of what was eligible was extremely narrow. I had already ripped out my ratty landscape. Big mistake! I did not have an existing lawn to inspect, interview over! Makes one wonder if sod rolled out and left to die would qualify.


 COMMENT 490930 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 01:14 PM

Did the city program. It was a lot easier than the county program described above. We worth the effort if you are looking at re-landscaping. They only pay for materials and not labor which is the only downer I found.


 COMMENT 490931P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 01:15 PM

We looked into it and the documentation requirements were onerous for a small homeowner. Typically over-bureaucratized and hyper-regulated for only a token benefit. Maybe it would be different for big developments, but then we don't need any more of those.


 COMMENT 490939 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 01:29 PM

I will follow with " not user friendly!!"


 COMMENT 490958 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 02:39 PM

I removed my full lawn and put in artificial turf...it requires ZERO WATER. I called and asked about the rebate, and I was told the replacement must be drought tolerant, and only require waterings every other week. My turf, which needs zero water, was not on the list of acceptable plantings...


 COMMENT 490970 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 03:16 PM

Who needs drought tolerant landscaping when the city is wasting water on their permeable paver parking lots? Did you see the story on KEYT when the city filled a truck up with potable water and then sprayed it on the Oak Park pavers to show how they infiltrate water?

Another great idea from City bureaucrats.


 COMMENT 490980 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 03:41 PM

I went through the rebate program a couple of years ago, and it was one of the worst experiences of home ownership. The man they sent out had a nearly hostile disposition, such that I called and said he was never allowed on my property again. The manager was a little better, but the whole thing lead me to decide not to apply when I took lawn out of my front yard this time. Not worth the hassle and hostility.


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 04:18 PM

The bad experiences here sound horrible. There is no reason to offer such a program, then make it too difficult to bother with. No excuse for employees so disrespectful as to actually make a homeowner want to keep watering the lawn. I think KEY-T should do a story on this and interview some of the people who had an unpleasant experience. The whole thing is totally unacceptable.


 COMMENT 491004 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 04:37 PM

Wow. I have to say my experience was great. The woman they sent out (I think her name was Kathy) was very friendly. She came out, looked at the place, then I did the work, she came back and I gave her receipts and got the check couple of weeks later. There was definitely no site plan or other complicated requirements.


 COMMENT 491091P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 11:08 PM

We applied for the GWD's program about three or four years back - and yes, I think it was Kathy who came out and took photos and our application. Nothing onerous although there was a bit of paperwork. Kathy left for another job and a new (nice, friendly) lady (Misty?) took over; had no problems there either other than she seemed very busy and had to be reminded to follow up a couple of things. All in all, a good experience, especially the rebate. I've checked GWD's website a couple of times lately and the link to Rebates doesn't work, so not sure if they've discontinued it. Don't know anything about the county program.


 COMMENT 491095P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 11:42 PM

the "silver lining" of the drought is that people are thinking about it and making changes. I too put in a full artificial grass lawn. It has come a long way technologically, looks great and is guilt free. That is worth more than just a rebate.

I've also had drought tolerant grass called buffalo grass. It really is low water, but is nowhere near as useful and attractive as the fairway-like synlawn grass I ended up with.

Bottom line is we live in a coastal desert and really can't have big lawns. The local universities took nice leadership roles by putting in artificial grass.

Ask for friends to come and see theirs and test it out. Guaranteed, if we get a few inches of rain, this topic will be off the radar temporarily. But, artificial turf is a nice solution as are succulents and other ideas of xeriscaping. Any rebate won't be very significant compared to the H2O savings. As the saying goes, "Man will know the true value of water when the well is dry."


 COMMENT 491096P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-31 11:54 PM

I just checked out the sbwater.org site and the rebate is only for sprinklers and lower water landscaping, so it does seem that artificial turf doesn't qualify. Not too surprising that they made that oversight. In Nevada and Arizona, where they live in perpetual drought, the government is more aware of artificial turf as the best possible arrangement.

Still, the rebate is maximally $1,000, and at $5/sq.ft., that may not help much for big lawns. But for these smaller spaces, I think this is a great gallery the city put of of before and after:



 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-01 01:48 AM

95P.Where did your artificial turf? I've see some that are great looking and thinking about putting a patch in.


 COMMENT 491103 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-01 06:46 AM

We tried to go through the rebate program but weren't eligible. Our home was a foreclosure (therefore empty for some time) so there wasn't the required water usage history. Be aware that you need two full years, showing increased usage in summer and decreased usage the rest of the year.

Even though we couldn't get a rebate, Kathy from waterwise was very helpful! She spent quite a bit of time with me explaining how to best save water in our yard, including changing out our sprinkler heads and a mini landscape design consultation.

We were going to go drought tolerant anyway but even a modest rebate would have been great. I think more flexible rules (even if it meant smaller rebates) would encourage more homeowners to make the switch.


 COMMENT 491113 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-01 07:35 AM

@096P: thanks for that link. I find the after photos to be so much more appealing to look at. And as an added benefit, now there will be birds bees and butterflies in the yards. I added a bird bath/water station, and it is even more interesting.


 COMMENT 491140 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-01 09:28 AM

When I looked into it, the detailed, professional drawings required would have cost more than the rebate... you have to have money to save money. My yard is a blank canvas for irrigation installation- a perfect place for one of those home improvement shows....


 COMMENT 491141P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-01 09:30 AM

113: We took out the lawn and put in lavender, heiliotrope, germander and have masses of bees in the garden!


 COMMENT 491150P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-01 09:59 AM

Mesarat: 95 here. It's in hope ranch. The company is synlawn. They're based in LA and are doing TONS of lawn replacement from LA to SLO. Ross Freedman is the owner. Extremely friendly and smart guy who will work with you. His crew is a father and two sons that have worked with him for years. ross@synlawnla.com

Synlawn itself started as a golf green company and are perhaps the highest quality manufacturer of replacement grass nationally. It's funny, because I avoided doing it for awhile, thinking it looks too perfect, but then I see my lawn, using water, with lots of weeds cropping up, and found that to be a silly criticism indeed! Now, it looks perfect, no mowing, no weeds, no gophers, kids love it, dogs love it.


 BONNER agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-01 01:13 PM

Did the rebate program with City of SB and had a wonderful experience, got reimbursed for smart controller and drip system, after turning in receipts and verification. I put in low-water plantings and she advised where to get mulch delivered or free if I pick up. Got lots of good advice and it turned out great. Why would anyone complain about something positive the City's trying to do, no matter what the paperwork? Geez


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