Long Beach residents can get paid to switch water-guzzling lawns for drought-tolerant gardens

As cities struggle to save water, a special program in long beach is paying residents to ditch their water-guzzling lawns for drought-tolerant species. 

Ten-year-old Leotie Mohler showed off her favorite plant, the Desert Willow, part of her family’s front yard.

“They’re pink with yellow inside,” she said. 

Her mother, Becca Mohler, said their front yard wasn’t always filled with desert plants. In 2018, it was just dead grass, requiring lots of maintenance and too much water.

Now, her front yard is lush with plants, thanks to a program started in 2010 called Long Beach lawn-to-garden where residents get paid to switch to drought-tolerant landscaping. 

The program is getting increasingly popular now, with the worsening drought.

“You can get $3 a square foot for the front yard, and $2 per square foot for the back yard. It’s a really good opportunity to take the plunge, rip out that lawn, and reduce your water bill and help us conserve water in Long Beach,” said Lauren Gold with Long Beach Water

All of the plants here are native to either California or the Mediterranean, which means they’re used to the hot and dry weather. That’s why they require far less water than grass.

As of June 1, the City of Long Beach put in water restrictions stating residents can only water landscape on Tuesdays and Saturdays. But with this garden, the Mohler family doesn’t have to do any of that.

“It really maintains itself,” said Becca Mohler. “It’s really not until the hotter months come that we do have this low-key inground system.”

By switching from sprinklers to drip irrigation, the Mohler’s water bill went from over $200 to $80. Many have also made the switch.

“Since the program started in 2010, we’ve replaced 3.2 million square feet of turf and each square foot that we save saves 36 gallons of water,” said Gold.

“We have people stopping by to notice hummingbirds in our yard, we notice a major increase in butterflies and bees. It’s so beautiful,” Mohler said.

A beautiful switch they’re glad they made. 

To apply for the program, visit https://lblawntogarden.com/