This title probably doesn't mean what you think it means. The grass to which I am referring is St Augustine, often referred to as turf grass, which requires immense amounts of water, fertilizer and work to maintain. As you may know, the majority of domestic water use is used for outdoor watering, particularly during summer peak demand season. Although we have seen some rain lately, the drought is far from over. This summer's drought has necessitated additional restrictions on lawn watering and many people have seen their lawns turn brown and crispy. Here is a solution — rip it out and get paid to do it.
Austin Water Utility (AWU) has a new pilot program that will pay citizens to remove their St. Augustine grass and replace it with more drought resistant alternatives such as buffalo or Bermuda grass. The rebate plan will give participants $10 per 100 square feet of converted lawn. In addition, the city offers $20 per 100 square feet to convert lawns to native plants and $30 per 100 square feet to convert to irrigation-free landscaping. Among other factors, AWU requires that lawns have 6 inches of soil and an irrigation system inspection to check for leaks. Depending on conditions, turf grass replacement can decrease home water use by 50% .
Similar programs have been implemented with success in San Antonio and El Paso and are indicative of a realization that we must start to use our water more wisely and adapt to our natural environment. The truth is that not all plants were meant to thrive in harsh Texas summers. Some simple changes can mean more water savings and a lawn full of color.
The deadline to apply for a rebate is Oct. 4 — so check out the details and get digging!