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Frequently Asked Questions: Single-Family Residential Turf Removal Rebate

Get your questions on the single-family residential turf removal rebate answered here:

Q.   I do not receive water from Scottsdale, but I live in Scottsdale and/or have a Scottsdale mailing address. Can I get a rebate?
 No. The city offers this program to its water customers to reduce demands on its water system. The rebate program is supported via water use fees, so only those who receive a Scottsdale water bill are eligible for a rebate. Households that do not receive a water bill from Scottsdale either because they are on a well or receive water from another water provider are not eligible for a rebate. Back to top

Q.  Do I have enough grass?
A.  A minimum of 500 sq. ft. of grass is required, and the grass in the measured conversion areas must be growing at a minimum density of 50%. A preliminary inspection performed by a Water Conservation representative is required before grass is removed to determine eligibility. There are no exceptions to this. Back to top

Q.  What if I already removed the grass?
A.  You are not eligible for a turf removal rebate. However, you may still be eligible for an irrigation controller rebate or plumbing rebate. Back to top

Q.  What if I have started killing the grass but it is not removed?
A.  You are eligible for a turf removal rebate. You can start spraying/killing the grass prior to getting your preliminary inspection as long as you don't remove it. Please submit a picture of your grass area before you begin spraying. Back to top

Q.  How much is the rebate amount?
A.  The maximum rebate amount is $1,500, which is applied as a one-time credit to your water bill. Back to top

Q.  What is the difference in requirements for Option 1 and Option 2?
 Two landscaping options are offered for the turf conversion area. Both require a minimum 2” top dressing.

Option 1: $0.25 per sq. ft. for turf removal only.

Option 2: $0.50 per sq. ft. for turf removal with installation of low-water-use plants.

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Q.  Why do you give a higher credit for installing low-water-use plants? They use more water!
A.  Yes. Plants do use water. So do you. But we figure you’re worth it, and so are the plants. Trees and other plants cool our urban heat island, shade our homes, clean our air, and offer sanctuary to all who live in the desert. And low-water-use plants use less because they're better adapted to our desert environment. Back to top

 Landscape Plants for the Arizona DesertQ. I want Option 2. How I can easily determine what plants are appropriate?
All plants listed in the plants brochure Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert are included in ADWR's Low Water Use Drought Tolerant Plant Listand therefore meet Option 2 requirements. Back to top

Q.  How do you calculate plant coverage for Option 2?
A.  Remember the formula: pi*r²? You don’t have to. Find it in this handy Mature Plant Canopy Calculator (exe/29kb) to figure out canopy coverage. Simply stated, use the width of a plant at mature size (diameter), divide by half for r (radius), and multiply by itself (r²). You’ve got the variable. Pi is always 3.14. Back to top

Q.  What is mature size? Do I have to install larger plants to qualify for Option 2?
A.  Mature size refers to the typical height and width when the plant is fully grown. Width is the number used in the formula for plant canopy coverage. When you install plants for rebate Option 2 you may choose any size you wish. Calculations for plant coverage will be made using typical mature size regardless of the size plant you install. You’ll find a great assortment of plants in the brochure Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert, now online, and height and width are noted for you. Back to top 

Q.  New and existing plants - where do you draw the line when it comes to Option 2?
A.  Draw the line right where the turf conversion area is measured. Mark it if you need to. We will, using graph paper and photos. Existing plants inside the conversion area that are on the low-water-use plant list are eligible and will be counted and calculated (using mature size) as canopy coverage for option 2. Back to top

Q.  Shouldn't I use a weed barrier?
A.  A non-permeable barrier (i.e. black plastic) it is not permitted in the turf rebate program and will render your landscape ineligible. A weed barrier may not be needed if turf is killed off properly. If you choose to have a barrier, biodegradable barriers are recommended. Use of a permeable weave barrier is also allowed. Non-permeable plastic does not allow water retention on the property. Plants cannot be watered appropriately or breathe when roots are beneath non-permeable plastic. Additionally, non-permeable plastic will surface over time and become a nuisance to you and the community. Back to top

Q.  What is top dressing?
A.  The crushed rock/decomposed granite spread over the bare soil in landscapes is referred to as top dressing. It is the most common top dressing used in the Valley. It is also referred to as mulch. As with other mulches, it helps maintain moisture in the soil, but there are many other benefits, including reducing dust and improving air quality. A 2” minimum top dressing is required for both Option 1 and Option 2. Back to top

Q.  Does artificial turf qualify for the rebate?
A. Yes. Although artificial turf is permitted in residential landscapes, the city’s policy on use of artificial turf for Xeriscape landscaping applications on commercial properties may be of interest to you. When artificial turf is used, the turf conversion will qualify for rebate Option 1 only, as top dressing (which must be permeable). Please note that the measurement for artificial turf, like a measurement for carpet, allows for curves and angles and requires more square feet than the measurement of grass area to be replaced. Back to top

Q. How do I find a landscaper?
A. Several resources are available to help you find a qualified landscaper:

  • Smartscape certified landscapershave gone through 20 hours of specialized landscape training in the areas of irrigation, plant material, planting, design, plant problems (and solutions) as well as pest management.
  • WaterSense Landscape Irrigation Professionals completed an accredited irrigation certification program(s) to learn about water-efficient irrigation technology and techniques.
  • Arizona Register of Contractors offers some protections to the property owner, especially regarding residential property when licensed contractors are hired for landscape work. A contractor cannot obtain a license without possessing a minimum amount of experience and must pass a business management test.   Back to top

Q. What if takes longer than six months to complete the project?
Once your turf removal project is pre-inspection and approved; you have six months to complete the project. If necessary, you may contact the Water Conservation Office at 480-312-5650 and request extra time. One extension, for up to six months, may be granted.


Q. How and when will I receive the rebate?
A. It will appear as a credit on your water bill within two billing cycles after your application has been approved. Back to top

Q. What happens if I no longer pay the water bill and the new owner/renter is the active person on the account? How can I get the rebate?
The rebate can only be applied to the active water account for that property. If you have rented or sold the property, your option is to work with the person currently paying the water bill to see if they will reimburse you. Back to top 

Q.  Do you have any examples of turf removal projects?
A.  We sure do! Take a look for great before and after pictures!  Back to top


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Online Brochures

  • Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert
    A guide to growing more than 200 low-water-use plants.
    Browse brochure
  • Landscape Watering by Numbers Landscape Watering by the Numbers
    Gives instruction for determining how much water your plants need. View Tools
  • Landscaping with Style Landscaping with Style
    A guide for planning,installing, and maintaining your landscape Browse Brochure