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Residents in California are increasingly turning to landscaping businesses to overhaul their lawns to drought-friendly designs.
The growth of California's landscaping industry is propelled by customers’ frantic desires to do their part to relieve the four-year drought, since 5 percent of the state's water is poured into the lawns surrounding residential and commercial properties. California’s ongoing drought has put pressure on residents to conserve water -- and one new and rapidly growing business offers free lawn removal in exchange for public rebates.
Steve Tsumura, a resident of the greater Los Angeles area, used to drive across town to his parents' home in the Mission Hills neighborhood every few days to water their landscaping.
Customers like Tsumura have created an opportunity for longstanding landscaping businesses as well as brand-new ones like Turf Terminators. More residents are installing drought-tolerant gardens such as this one created by architect Jeremy Levine for a cinematographer in southern California.

Sandra Giarde, executive director of the California Landscape Contractors Association, says she expects demand for landscapers to continue to grow with the emphasis on water conservation and the recent upturn in the economy. Turf Terminators, however, has chosen a different approach -- the company focuses more on ripping out lawns than installing perfectly manicured landscaping. She ended up applying for the rebate herself and contacting a company called Lopez Landscaping to do the work instead. One company called Turf Terminators operates in the Los Angeles area and uses public rebates and a streamlined catalog of cost-efficient landscaping products to cash in on customers' properties.
The company replaced the lawn in front of her Woodland Hills, California, home with a drought-tolerant design, at no cost to her. Brown’s order, many water districts and cities had begun offering residents cash to convert their yards to California Friendly landscapes.

Tripathi says his company receives about 10 calls a week from residents interested in these incentives, but only about three of those callers will place an order after his staff briefs them on the full cost of removing turf and replacing it with carefully designed drought-tolerant landscaping, which typically runs much higher than the rebates available in the area. The company offers free lawn removal to customers in the Los Angeles area, so long as they sign over their rights to a $2 per square foot rebate from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and a $3.75 per square foot rebate from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
It takes 57 inches of water a year, or between 35,000 and 75,000 gallons, to maintain a traditional lawn, according to the Association of California Water Agencies.

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