It's the lush, green lawn that has come to define the American yard. Grass may be easy on the eyes, but it's hard on the water bill, especially in Southern California where rain is a rare summer visitor.
"It takes about 48 inches or 4 feet of water to keep healthy during the year. And we expect to save, through this program, about 70 percent of that," said Enrique Silva of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Water Conservation.
That program is the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's "Cash in Your Lawn" campaign: Remove your grass, replace it with California-friendly drought-tolerant landscaping, and the DWP will help you pay for it.
"To participate in this project, you decide how much grass or lawn you want to get rid of, and we pay you on a square foot basis," said Penny Falcon of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
Helen Lau and her husband Richard jumped on the DWP program. It paid them a dollar for every square foot of conversion in their Sunland front yard. The backyard they did on their own and not just for the conservation.
"For us, it's the garden every bit as much as the water savings," said Richard.
"Yeah, and now it's watered in drips, where we used to have the sprinkler on full blast," said Helen.
Since the program began back in 2009, the DWP has issued rebates for more than 1 million square feet of conversion. They want more and they're going to do that by doubling the rebate.
"We're paying the $2 per square foot right now. We do anticipate keeping it at that level through the fall of this year," said Falcon.
If you have 1,000 square feet of turf, that means the DWP would write you a check for $2,000 if you convert it.
Getting people to ditch their lawns, though, can be hard. Conservation experts say xeriscaping can often be unfairly characterized as dry and barren.
"California-friendlies, they're not all cactus. It's not all desert landscape," said Silva.
Squirrels and hummingbirds are now a common sight, according to the Laus, who left some lawn for their dogs but claim the garden as their own.
"It's so enjoyable. It's really a therapeutic thing to come out here," said Helen.
Therapeutic for them and the DWP as well.
For more information on the rebates, visit LADWP.com.