Water Efficient Landscape Program Frequently Asked Questions

Qualifying Projects

By inspecting the area before construction starts, we can collect site data to accurately calculate your rebate amount. Specific types of photos and measurements are needed to document the project and ensure program funds are appropriately spent. Never demolish your lawn until you get an email stating you’ve been approved for the program. Doing so will void your eligibility.

Current Utah legislation requires living grass for program participation, however turning off the irrigation for up to a month prior to your scheduled inspection should not be a problem so long as there are visible grass blades. If you do stop irrigating, do not remove the grass. Clearing the area will make you ineligible.

No. This program provides an incentive to convert grass to alternative types of landscaping, including trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Just as important as the plant selection is the use of drip irrigation and mulch. In areas where living lawn is appropriate, we encourage you to consider lower water use varieties.

Not exactly, but you may use artificial turf as a component of your project. We accept artificial turf in lieu of mulch if it is permeable to air and water. If you use artificial turf, all other program conditions must be met, such as plant cover and drip irrigation.

No. You can incorporate impermeable surfaces into your landscape, but we will not include these areas in determining your incentive. We will subtract these nonpermeable areas from those that meet our conditions when determining your incentive.

However, patios or walkways using ungrouted pavers or flagstone that allow water and air to pass through can be considered mulch. You still need to meet the other program requirements, such as drip irrigation and plant cover.


That depends. Rebates commonly cover 30 to 50 percent of the cost. If you’re a resourceful do-it-yourselfer, you may cover most of your material costs with the rebate. If you hire a contractor, expect to pay between $4-6 per square foot. Remember, a typical residential conversion can also save up to $300 each year in water costs alone, so your conversion will continue to help recover costs.

Most banks offer home improvement loans that can be used for landscaping. Since we issue rebates in less than 60 days after you complete your project and submit all required paperwork, you can apply the rebate to the loan principal. Some landscapers offer financing plans to allow you to pay the final balance for your project after you receive your rebate check.

The State of Utah does not consider water conservation rebates taxable, but the U.S. Internal Revenue service requires a signed W-9 for all rebates in excess of $600. Consult your tax advisor for guidance.

Not necessarily. Shade is the key to keeping you cool in the desert. Shading keeps areas up to 25 degrees cooler. Lawns feel cool because so much water is evaporating from them, but shade trees have more energy efficiency benefits. Strategically planting water-efficient trees and vines to create shade on buildings and surfaces will reduce energy demands.

Technical Requirements: Plants, Irrigation & Mulch

A pressure regulating valve, or PRV, keeps the irrigation system at the recommended operating pressure (usually between 20 and 30 psi). Drip components are held together with friction. Too much water pressure will damage the system, resulting in thirsty plants and excessive water use. A filter is required to prevent small debris from clogging your drip emitters, ensuring your plants get the correct amount of water and have high survival rates.

The most common types of mulch are decorative rock or bark. Mulch protects the soil surface from the drying effects of sun and wind. It also suppresses weeds, which compete with your plants for water. Mulch can also moderate soil temperatures, protecting plants from extreme temperatures.

This program encourages water efficient, living landscape. Trees, shrubs and groundcovers provide shade, absorb carbon dioxide, supply oxygen, reduce soil erosion, support wildlife, decrease energy use, lessen noise pollution, lower air temperatures, reduce storm water run-off, and provide a host of other benefits to our community.

The size of the plant doesn’t matter at installation. We use the estimated size of the mature plant to determine plant coverage.

The program doesn’t dictate plant selections. We only require that when fully mature, the plants cover at least 50 percent of the converted area. We strongly encourage the use of drought-tolerant plants and planting or sustaining trees on the property to provide valuable shade to your home and landscape.

No. Weed barriers are generally only recommended in areas that have stubborn weed issues. If a weed barrier is used, it must be permeable, such as fabric or mesh. In most cases, a few inches of mulch will adequately suppress weed growth.

Impermeable materials are harmful to soil and plant health. Impermeable barriers shouldn’t be used in any area where plant roots are expected to grow.

Conservation Easements

Easements are granted by the property owner and define specific limitations on land use. This Conservation Easement restricts only those portions of your property where you received an incentive for landscape conversion. The easement "runs with the land," meaning all owners of the property must abide by the terms. It is similar to the covenants property owners agree to for most homeowners' associations.

The easement ensures the water savings from the project will be sustained in perpetuity, producing a permanent, reliable benefit to the community’s water supply.

The easement doesn’t prohibit common changes to your landscape. You may replace or move plants, change mulch materials or even undertake a complete redesign, provided you don’t install irrigated lawn, spray irrigation systems, swimming pools or water features in any portion of the converted area. You do not need to notify the water district of changes that do not substantially alter the character of the conversion area.

These documents will be recorded with the Washington County Recorder. If the property is sold, the easement will be identified during a title search and disclosed to a buyer. You will receive an electronic copy for your personal records and the water district will maintain a copy in our business records.

The easement applies in perpetuity. You and any subsequent owner of the property must abide by the easement. The water district has a process by which you or other owners may request a modification or rescission of all or a portion of the easement if it is deemed necessary.

We use aerial imagery to periodically conduct non-intrusive inspections to ensure our easements are intact. If a violation is discovered, we request voluntary compliance before pursuing legal action.

If the property title is solely in your name, only you need to sign the easement in the presence of a notary. If more than one person's name is on the property title, each owner will need to sign the easement and have their signature notarized. If the property is owned by a corporation, partnership, trust, limited liability company or other entity, an authorized officer, agent, partner, trustee, member or other appropriately authorized representative may sign the easement before a notary.

You must grant the easement before the water district will issue your incentive. If you transfer the property to a new owner before the easement is granted, you become ineligible to receive the incentive payment.

Other Issues and Concerns

One of the seven principles of water smart landscaping is functional lawn areas. You don't have to eliminate your entire lawn to participate. Some conversion projects simply reduce the size of the existing lawn. To determine where you might have nonfunctional lawn, ask yourself: "When people walk on this lawn area, are they usually pushing a lawn mower?"

Not usually. If your homeowners' association (HOA) compels you to have grass, email us at conservation@wcwcd.org. We will take reasonable steps to communicate with your HOA and ensure that they are aware of applicable state and local laws. HOA’s may still have authority to enforce design standards for water efficient landscape. Ensure you understand HOA policies to avoid complications.

Several studies have shown good-quality conversions sustain or increase home values in southwestern cities. Because new homes and businesses are required to have a water efficient landscape, your project may give your home updated appeal. Homebuyers who value Utah’s scenic beauty may find water-efficient landscape styles more appealing than an ornamental lawn. Many homebuyers consider maintenance and resource efficiency as important criteria in the selection of their home.