by Worldchanging LA local editor, Siel:
The city of Santa Monica is offering grants -- to individuals, property owners, businesses, non-governmental organizations, and public agencies -- to fund California-friendly, water-conserving landscape projects.
Here's a chance for Santa Monica residents to redo their lawns without breaking the bank. This reimbursement grant, paid when the landscaping project is completed, will cover up to 50% of the cost of your project -- up to $20,000.
Best of all, after the makeover, these lawns will continue to reap economic benefits for its owners, because the new lawns will require less water and maintenance. After all, nearly half of a typical home's water use in Santa Monica comes from landscape watering. According to the grant application (PDF):
Converting existing turf and other water-thirsty plants, and traditional, high-volume sprinkler irrigation systems to California-friendly plants and water-efficient irrigation systems can save up to 80% of water and 60% of maintenance costs.
Basically, this is one program that any financially-savvy Santa Monica resident can get behind. Funds from the grant can be used for a myriad of landscaping-related tasks, from design and construction costs to plant material to irrigation system to water-saving and urban runoff features.
Rest assured -- Your lawn will look pretty post-makeover! For proof, take a look at the Garden/garden project at at 1718 and 1724 Pearl St. in Santa Monica. One lawn is a highly water and labor-intensive "regular" garden -- which is unfortunately still the typical lawn in Southern California. The other showcases a gorgeous, environmentally-friendly and low-maintenance garden of native and water-efficient plants. This garden is beautiful -- not to mention low stress, both for the lawn owner and for the environment.
To get the grant, simply submit an application (PDF). All grant requests must include water-efficient irrigation systems, in addition to one or more of these features: California native plants or non-native water-efficient plants, rain catchment and stormwater management systems, graywater systems, or other innovative water-saving features in the landscape.
Why is the City of Santa Monica being so generous? Well, the city has a goal to curb citywide water use 20% by 2010. This grant program provides incentives for people to work with the city toward this goal.
I'm so psyched about this new program that I've already printed out a grant application for my landlords. I encourage all apartment-dwellers to do the same!