Grass-to-Xeriscape Landscape Incentive

Press Enter to show all options, press Tab go to next option


How much money can I get for taking out my grass? A single family homeowner is eligible to receive $500 to remove a minimum of 500 square feet of healthy grass.

What are the program requirements? Information regarding planting, timelines and eligibility 

How can I obtain an application? Get a copy of the application online or call us to mail you a copy at (480) 644-3306.

Once I've sent in my application, do I need to make an appointment for my inspection? If your converted area is in your front yard, it is not necessary for you to be home. However, if you are converting an area in your back yard, we will contact you to schedule an appointment.

I have already removed the grass in my yard. Do I still qualify? Unfortunately, no. This program is only available to homeowners that are planning to remove healthy grass. The main purpose of the program is to reduce water used on live grass, which means that the City must inspect the area to be converted while the grass is still healthy and in place. Without this initial inspection, it is not possible to qualify for the incentive. 

I've stopped watering my grass. Can I still get a incentive? If the grass is relatively healthy,
(routinely irrigated and manicured with an average coverage of 70 percent), you will likely qualify.  Please remember that turning off the water will not be sufficient to get rid of Bermuda grass. Find more tips on removing grass.

How much time do I have to complete my conversion after the initial inspection? Once the City has inspected your yard and given the initial approval, you have six months to complete your conversion of the grass area.

When do I receive my $500 from the City? If you are approved, your check will be issued approximately eight weeks after the final inspection is completed by staff. 

Can I just put in rock without plants? Not in the converted area. The program requires that the converted area must be replaced with low-water using plants that, at full maturity, will cover at least 50 percent of the area.

pl_chuparosaHow many low-water use plants do I need to put in? The converted area must be replaced with low-water using plants that, at full maturity, will cover at least 50 percent of the area. For example, if you convert 600 square feet of grass to a Xeriscape, then plants need to "cover" 300 square feet. This "coverage" is not required to be groundcover, but is considered to be the area covered by a plant's canopy at full maturity. 

This requirement can be accomplished in a variety of ways. For example, there are a number of large trees that provide 225 square feet of coverage, and many large shrubs that provide 75 square feet of coverage. Continuing with this example, you could plant an Ironwood tree and a yellow bells shrub and meet the minimum requirement. There are many other combinations of different low-water use plants that would work as well. The program requirements highlight some examples of the coverage provided by a variety of plants. 

Why do I need to replace my grass with low-water use plants? Removing grass and replacing it with properly watered low-water use plants saves water. The Grass-to-Xeriscape program is designed to save water, and it also is intended to promote overall sustainability. This includes reducing heat island effect through plant shading. Plants also supply oxygen, provide wildlife habitat, and absorb carbon dioxide, among other environmental benefits.  

Doesn't grass help keep my house cooler? Grass will reduce your home's summer cooling requirements up to 4%, but add shrubs and that amount jumps up to 24%, and well-placed mature trees can cut energy costs up to 42%. So while grass does provide some cooling benefits, the real key to energy savings is shading your home.

How do I choose the right plants? When you request the conversion packet, you should receive a copy of Landscape Plants for the Arizona Desert. This book has pictures, growth size, and lots of information on over 200 low-water use plants. This book can also be viewed online. The book includes the most common plants used in landscapes but is not all inclusive of the plants that qualify for the incentive. The qualifying Low Water Use Drought Tolerant Plant List is created by the Arizona Department of Water Resources, and includes all of the plants that qualify for our program.

My yard already has lots of plants surrounding the grass area.  Do they count toward the coverage requirement? The only area of your yard that has to meet the 50% coverage requirement is the converted grass area. The existing plants do not apply towards that converted area. However, if you have a low-water use tree planted in the middle of the grass area to be removed, it could count toward the coverage requirement.

Do my new plants have to provide the 50% coverage before the final inspection? Your initial plantings can be started at any size. Our coverage requirements apply to the size of the plants at full maturity. As long as your plants will provide the coverage at full maturity, you are meeting the program requirements.

I'd like to replace my grass with artificial turf. Will that qualify? Artificial turf can be incorporated into the landscape. However, in order to qualify for the incentive, you cannot replace all of the removed grass with artificial turf. The coverage requirements (see question 10 above) always apply. Artificial turf does not provide shade and may contribute to the heat island effect.

What about black plastic lining - can I use that to control weeds? Black plastic lining is prohibited in the converted area. Your layer of top dressing (granite/rock) should be 2-3 inches thick. This will help to inhibit evaporation and weed growth and provide consistent coverage. Black plastic prevents air and water from reaching plant roots because it is impermeable. However, if you prefer, landscape fabric is approved to use under your granite or rock mulch.

How do I water my new low-water use plants? Our interactive online watering guide will allow you to input specific information about your plants and watering system. The guidelines provided are for established plants, so the frequency needs to be adjusted for new plantings - see chart below:

Watering Schedule for Newly Planted Desert Adapted Plants

Weeks 1& 2 Water every 1-2 days in summer, every 3-4 days fall through spring
Weeks 3 & 4 Water every 3-4 days in summer, every 6-7 days fall through spring
Weeks 5 & 6 Water every 4-6 days in summer, every 7-10 days fall through spring
Weeks 7 & 8 Water every 7 days in summer, every 10 -14 days fall through spring
After week 8 Gradually extend the time between irrigations until plants are established

Note: After the eighth week, move the drip emitters to the outer edge of the root ball.


Can my homeowners' association get a incentive for removing grass in our common area? At this time, the incentive is only for single family homeowners. The City has applied for a grant for non-residential customers to be eligible for a incentive. Check out our commercial properties page for updates. HOAs can get guidance with proper watering and water budgets by checking our commercial properties page or by contacting our office at (480) 644-3058.

How much does a typical conversion usually cost? While it does require some 'up front' money to convert grass to Xeriscape, it will save dollars in the long run. The costs can vary greatly depending on existing conditions and desired landscape changes. Estimates for a conversion typically range from $1.50 - $5.00 per square foot. However, when looking at extra costs required for grass, such as water, fertilizer, mower upkeep, overseeding and other maintenance activities, you'll realize a savings each year.

Do I need to save documentation of my expenses for the conversion? No. The City will verify that the conversion is complete and will approve your application if the requirements have been met.  No further documentation (such as receipts, photos, or plans) is necessary.

Why do I need to fill out a W9? The City of Mesa is required to collect a W9 from all entities that collect money, including this incentive. All W9 forms are kept confidential. Copies can be found online or we can mail one to you. Request a copy at (480) 644-3306. What if I have a question that isn't addressed on this list? No problem, just contact us by phone at (480) 644-3306 or by email.


You can get an application in one of the following ways:

Be sure to read the requirements before filling out the application.


Free viewers are required for some of the attached documents.
They can be downloaded by clicking on the icons below.

Acrobat Reader Download Acrobat Reader Flash Player Download Flash Player Windows Media Player Download Windows Media Player Microsoft Silverlight Download Microsoft Silverlight Word Viewer Download Word Viewer Excel Viewer Download Excel Viewer PowerPoint Viewer Download PowerPoint Viewer