Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why should I consider removing turf from my landscape?

A: Turf grass is a commonly used in landscaping. Unfortunately, it also requires a large amount of water, time, and money to maintain in our Southern California climate. Conversion to a California Friendly™ and native landscape may dramatically reduce both water and maintenance expenses. An example of potential savings is an experiment conducted using two properties in Santa Monica. One was a traditional turf landscape and the other was converted to a California Friendly™ landscape. Over the years, the California Friendly™ landscape has used 83% less water and required 68% less maintenance than the traditional turf landscape. You can see the details of this experiment here.

Often, turf is located in places where it is underutilized or not needed, such as side yards, parkways, street medians, around parking lots, and in business landscapes without pedestrians. Many customers find that they can remove turf in their landscape while improving the usefulness and curb appeal of their property. In fact, California Friendly™ and native landscapes not only save water and money, but they can be a beautiful, unique, and interesting replacement for traditional turf.

Q: Is artificial turf covered by Lawn to Garden?

A: No, the intent of Lawn to Garden is to incentivize our Long Beach community for removing water thirsty lawns, and replacing it with a drought-friendly garden that reduces demand on water, improves air quality, and increases biodiversity in the City of Long Beach. Artificial turf does not achieve all three of these goals. There are no exceptions to this rule. Please refer to the Terms and Conditions and Design Requirements for more information.

Q: What are the requirements to participate?

A: At a minimum, you must currently have grass to be eligible for the program and receive project start approval before removing your turf. There are several other requirements. Please visit the Terms & Conditions and Design Requirements for details.

Q: How long does the Lawn to Garden process take?

A: Please refer to the “Project Checklist” to get the full scope of the Lawn to Garden project. Much of the Lawn to Garden project process depends on how quickly customers submit the required documents and the time it takes to install their garden.
Application approvals: 1-3 day turn-around period
Landscape Design approvals: 1-3 days

Q: What is sustainable landscaping?

A: Sustainable landscaping encompasses a variety of practices that have developed in response to environmental issues and a desire to create multi-benefit landscaping. These practices are used in every phase of landscaping, including design, construction, implementation and management of residential and commercial landscapes that transcends water-use efficiency to address the related benefits of rainwater capture and use; reduction of pollution, greenhouse gases, and green waste; energy and cost savings; and human and wildlife habitat improvements.

Q: Can I convert my back yard and front yard at the same time?

A: Yes! You can place an application to convert your front and back yard in the same application. The incentive for front yard transformations is $3.00 per square feet and $3.00 per square feet for back yard transformations.

Q: How can I measure my project area?

A. To measure your project area, gather the following tools and follow the steps below. There are also online satellite imagery websites that may be able to help you measure your lawn’s square footage. If you will be using a contractor for completion of your project, ask that they measure your project area to ensure the correct amount of square footage is requested in your application.

Tools you will need:

Steps for measuring your lawn:

  1. Utilize the graph paper to make a drawing of your home and the borders of your yard. Write in any descriptions of nearby items such as driveways, fences, or sidewalks. This will help you orient yourself. photo
  2. Divide the project area into easily measured shapes such as rectangles, squares, triangles and circles. A list of formulas to find the square feet of these shapes is included below.             photo
  3. Take measurements to find out the square footage of each shape in your yard. Then add up the square footage of each shape for total square

Helpful formulas to find square footage

There are many online “area calculator tools” that will calculate the square footage of common shapes after you enter in the required measurements. Click here for one example.

Squares, rectangles, and triangles will be the most common shapes in your yard. The formulas for finding their square footage are below. If you have more unusual shapes, you can find out how to calculate their square footage on many websites such as this one.

Square or Rectangle

Height multiplied by Width = Square Footage



Height multiplied by Width and divided by 2 = Square Footage


Note: Accuracy in footage is very important. We cannot increase your footage after your project has been pre-approved, so please strive to provide as accurate information as possible in your application. Please note that your water agency may review your requested footage and reduce the project area if a discrepancy is noted.


Q: Do rain barrels fulfill the storm water retention requirement?

A: The Lawn-to-Garden program incentivizes landscape transformation. While rain barrels are rainwater capture devices, standalone, they are not modifications to the landscape and thus do not fulfill the storm water retention requirement.

Q: Can I choose any designer to receive the design reimbursement?

A: No. Only designs from landscape professionals that have submitted their credentials to the Long Beach Water Department will be considered for reimbursement. To see a list of verified professionals, visit the Design Reimbursement page. Customers who contact and receive a landscape design from professional on this list will be eligible to receive a reimbursement of the cost of the design up to $1,500.

DISCLAIMER OF ENDORSEMENT:  Landscape designers listed as part of our design incentive program are verified landscape professionals.  This list is not representative of the only landscape professionals that are able to provide this type of work.  Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of any designer, and LBWD is not responsible or liable for any services rendered.  It is the homeowner’s responsibility to request current proof of insurance, bond and license, and to obtain any other relevant information about any designer.

Q: What happens if I reserve the wrong amount of square footage in my initial application? 

A: Incentives are awarded based on the measured area submitted when a reservation is requested. It is important that you accurately measure the area requested as we cannot increase your area measurement after the reservation is granted.

Q: My lawn has been dead for several months. Do I still qualify for the program?

A: If your lawn is dead but still in place, we will consider your project for the L2G incentive program. Please send images of all the turf area you would like to convert to a drought friendly garden to

Q: Does the city still offer free mulch?

A: Yes. The Office of Sustainability offers free mulch to Long Beach residents. Check out their website to learn more:

Q: Are there any free tree programs?

A: Yes. The Office of Sustainability also offer free trees to Long Beach residents for planting in their parkways. Not all trees permitted in the Lawn-to-Garden program are available from the Office of Sustainability. Check out their website to learn more:

Q: What types of plants are eligible in the Lawn-to-Garden program?

A: There are specific plants suitable for our semi-arid region and the L2G program. Explore the links below to choose from thousands of drought tolerant plant options:

Q: What types of fruit trees are eligible in the Lawn-to-Garden program?

A: Some of the more popular fruit trees that participants have used in the past are Avocado, Pomegranate, Meyer Lemon, Sweet Orange, Olive, Guava, and Loquat. To check to see if a particular plant is eligible in the program use the search tool here: Any plant that is on this website with the exception of any turf like grasses is eligible in the L2G program.

Q: Can I use traditional turf grass as part of my new landscape?

A:  Your new landscape cannot contain any turf grasses, artificial or synthetic turf, or turf-looking grass such as Buffalo grass, Zoysia, or Kurapia. Mexican feather grass (Nassella tenuissima) and all other invasive plant species are prohibited from the Lawn to Garden program. For a list of invasive species and their alternatives, visit PlantRight.

Q: If I leave my turf grass but replace pre-existing plants with L2G eligible plants, will these plants still qualify for the incentive?

A: No. The L2G incentive is specifically designed to assist residents in joining the water efficient Long Beach way of life, by removing their thirsty turf grass lawns.

Q: How much plant material needs to be planted?

A: Plant material must cover at least 65% of the new landscaped area by the time the plants are mature or after two years’ time, whichever comes first.

Q:  I live in a homeowners association (HOA) and do not have an individual LBWD account. Can I still qualify for the program?

A: If the lawn you would like to re-landscape is in a common area then the HOA will need to apply directly. If it is your own personal area of the complex then you may be eligible to apply.

Q: How do I effectively kill my lawn?

A:  Please reference our “How To” page for detailed instructions and helpful links.

Q: When will I receive my incentive check?

A: If approved, payments will be made within 60-90 calendar days after the post inspection has been completed.