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September 27, 2011 > Fremont resident reinvents landscape

Fremont resident reinvents landscape

Submitted By Frank Jahn

The Alameda County Water District is offering rebates of up to $500 to Tri-City residents who convert their lawns to water-efficient landscaping.

"Replacing a traditional lawn with eco-friendly plants and flowers results in a landscape that provides long-term benefits to the homeowner and the environment," said Stephanie Penn, ACWD Water Conservation Specialist. "Water efficient landscaping conserves water, is easy to maintain, and is exciting and stylish."

When Sophie, a part-time environmental artist in Fremont, heard about ACWD's new Lawn-Be-Gone Rebate Program, she jumped at the opportunity to replace her water-thirsty front lawn with a beautiful new water efficient landscape that would require less maintenance and fewer chemicals. She took the following steps to reinvent her landscape:

Sophie worked closely with her landscaper to come up with a plan for her new front yard. She chose a design that incorporated three California habitat types: chaparral, sage scrub, and desert. She selected a diverse variety of low water use plants. A few of her favorites include western redbud, island bush poppies, yarrow, and manzanita. ACWD maintains a list of low water use plants that are eligible for the program.

Sophie carefully situated her new plants among granite boulders and raised features, lending her garden both structure and a natural appearance. She also replaced her concrete walkway with a path made of permeable decomposed granite to reduce storm water runoff and encourage infiltration. In addition to choosing the right plants, water efficiency requires an efficient drip irrigation system with a pressure regulator and the use of at least of three inches of mulch around the plantings to reduce evaporation. Sophie chose a technique of turf removal known as "sheet mulching," which involves smothering the lawn with cardboard and compost. Sheet mulching is a great choice because planting can begin immediately, it is chemical free, and there is no need for offsite waste disposal.

Fall is a good time to install a new landscape because the new plants, which require additional water to become established, can take advantage of winter rains. Sophie's new front yard is a diverse, low water use landscape that will serve as habitat for wildlife and save her money on water bills, fertilizer, and maintenance.

* Rebates of up to $500 are available to single-family homeowners.
* Rebates of up to $3,000 are available to multi-family complexes and commercial properties.
* Rebates are based on the number of square feet of turf replaced.
* Rebates are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
* To be eligible for a rebate, customers must be pre-approved by ACWD.

To help local residents learn more about the process of converting a lawn to water-efficient landscaping, ACWD will be hosting an "Alternatives to Lawn" class on Saturday, October 22 from 9:00 a.m. to noon. The class will take place at ACWD headquarters at 43885 S. Grimmer Blvd. in Fremont. Register for the class by calling (650) 349-3000 or emailing

For more information about ACWD's Lawn-Be-Gone Rebate Program, including eligibility and program requirements, please call Stephanie Penn at 510-668-6534 or visit

Before beginning any landscape plan it's important to check with your city, and in many cases your homeowners association, about any regulations or permit requirements that may apply to you.

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