Residents in Austin can help conserve water, save money and have a beautiful lawn by participating in Austin Water’s WiseWise landscape rebate program.

“What we're trying to do is incentivize the removal of turf grass, which uses a lot of water, and [encourage residents to] replace it with native plant beds,” Conservation Program Coordinator Christopher Charles said.

Residents who participate in the program receive a rebate for replacing their turf grass with native plants, such as Texas sage, lantana, salvia, mountain laurel and agave plants.

How it works

Residents will fill out an application online and send in their site plan measurements and photos of their current grass condition. After removing the existing grass and planting the new plants, they can submit final photos and receipts to Austin Water. Residents will be reimbursed $1 per square foot up to $3,000.

In addition to receiving a rebate for the cost of replacing their turf grass, participants can save money on their monthly water bills.

“We have seen a lot of research done from [the] Texas [A&M Agrilife] Extension Service where native plants will use a fraction of what people are putting on their lawns or their turf grass,” Charles said.

Why it matters

Austin Water staff are encouraging residents to participate in the program now as residents prepare for another hot, dry summer.

“Summer is when we get the most water use from our homes,” Charles said. “We're drinking more water, washing dishes and clothes more and we're putting a lot of water on the landscape. If everybody's doing their part in conserving water, we can save costs on our [city water] infrastructure. We don't have to build as much to keep up with demand.”

Most of the city of Austin gets its water from Lake Travis and Lake Buchanan, which are already low.

“Our combined storage and our reservoirs that we use are currently at 42%, so anything we can do to protect our natural resources is a good thing,” Charles said. “We are actually helping out our future water storage by conserving water.”

A uniquely Austin landscape

Although some residents may be skeptical about removing grass from their lawns, Charles said a front lawn with native plants can still have lots of curb appeal.

Austin Water uses the term WaterWise Landscaping instead of xeriscaping, which both use the same landscaping principles.

“The xeriscape name is sort of synonymous with zero-scaping and we don't want to promote that here in Austin,” Charles said.

Instead, residents are encouraged to use plants such as Texas sage and lantana, which are both flowering plants.

“I always get people telling me how beautiful their yard looks because it is a different type of landscape,” Charles said. “It's been accepted here in Austin that your front yard doesn't need to be a manicured turf grass yard.”

To learn more about the WaterWise landscape rebate program, visit Austin Water’s website.

The above story was produced by Multi-platform Journalist Mary Katherine Shapiro with Community Impact's Storytelling team with information solely provided by the local business as part of their "sponsored content" purchase through our advertising team.