Saving Money and Time
Our customers have told us the biggest challenges of replacing grass lawns with beautiful water-efficient landscapes are related to TIME and MONEY.
Because we want your project to be successful, we have completely redesigned this website around the twin goals of sharing TIME-saving and COST-saving tips and strategies with you.
Most of the following tips and strategies came from Long Beach homeowners that had successful L2G projects.
Determining a project’s budget before work begins is important. To find important budget-related topics, click here.
Here’s the #1 tip: don’t forget to apply for your L2G incentive payment. If successful, you’ll receive $3.00 for each square foot of lawn removed, up to $15,000.
Designing Your Landscape
Free landscape classes
For information on FREE landscape classes that are available to help homeowners design and install their very own water-efficient landscapes, click here.
KISS: Keep it simple, silly
Save time and money by keeping your design simple. A lot of people who had successful landscape projects recommended this approach. A simple design is less time-consuming to create and the total cost of materials and labor will probably be less. You can add more complex elements to the landscape in the future, as time and money allow.
Minimize the Addition of Hardscape (Pavers, Brick, etc.)
Think twice about adding a lot of hardscape into your design. These materials tend to cost a lot of money and, unless you are doing the work yourself, can be expensive to install. That being said, some hardscape additions, such as pathways made of brick or flagstone that had been placed on a bed of sand, are fairly simple to install yet look quite beautiful.
Buy wholesale. Wholesale nurseries often sell plants for 40% or more off retail prices. Although these nurseries are about 40 minutes to an hour away, the savings can be significant. Click on these names to get more information on the nurseries and their locations: Tree of Life Nursery, Theodore Payne Foundation, Las Pilitas Nursery; and for succulents try Waterwise Botanicals.
Use the L2G 15% off coupon
If you are in the L2G program and approved by the program to construct your new landscape, you’ll receive a coupon for 15% off the retail price from our partnering nurseries (restrictions apply, see coupon for details). Click here for a list of local partnering nurseries.
Buy less mature plants
To save money, buy plants in 1-gallon containers rather than 5-gallon. Younger plants will cost less than 50% of their more mature cousins; but many of them will fill out very nicely in 12 months or less.
One of the amazing things about looking at some of the landscapes on the L2G website is this: many of the photos were taken soon after the water-efficient landscapes were installed, and the landscapes look a little scrawny; but photos of the same landscapes taken one year later show beautiful and lush landscapes with large flowering shrubs and other plants.
Most of the people with successful projects (55%) did NOT install a new irrigation system. Some of these people just used their existing irrigation system. Others decided to live without an irrigation system, reasoning that once their new plants were established (which takes a year or so), rain would provide enough water during the five or six “winter” months; and for the rest of the year the plants could easily be watered by hand once every 2 to 5 weeks.
Other people simply converted their existing irrigation system to drip. Here is a guide to help you with the drip retrofit.
Check out our “How To” tab for more information on irrigating your new landscape.
Free Disposal of the Dead Grass
People had different strategies for disposing of the dead grass. The easiest thing to do is just pay someone to haul it away; this might cost $150 to $300, depending. But if you are a thrifty gardener, here are a few alternative strategies:
Shake the dirt off the dead grass then throw the dead grass in the trash can. The trash can might not be large enough to take all the grass in one week; so you might have to add a little grass to the can each week for several weeks.
Free City pickup
After shaking off the dirt, put the grass in bags and call the City for your annual FREE bulk-trash curbside pickup (call 562.570.2876; only limited quantities will be picked up and the trash must be bagged according to the City rules, so call the City before bagging up tons of grass).
Kill the Lawn Yourself
Most of the L2G participants killed their lawn using chemicals. To do a good job of killing the lawn with chemicals someone needs to spray it once, then each week for the next three to five weeks keep watering the lawn and spray any new shoots that come up.
The problem with paying someone to do this work is it will cost the contractors a lot of money to drive to your property each week – even if he or she is there for only a few minutes. So what often happens is the contractor will not take the time needed to completely kill the grass.
Although you need to be very careful and to read and understand the instructions, the good news is killing the lawn with chemicals is not very physically demanding work, so many homeowners can save the money and the headache of paying someone else to do the job.
Digging Up the Dead Grass
This is NOT a money-saving tip, but an important one just the same: pay someone to dig up the dead grass. People typically had from 2 to 10 inches of soil removed with the dead grass; removing this soil is back-breaking work. Even some people who did all the work themselves said if they had to do it over again, this is the one job they would pay someone to do.
Install the Plants Yourself
For most people in our survey, this was probably the most enjoyable part of the whole process; so even if money were not an issue, they preferred to install the plants themselves.
If Paying for Labor – You May Save by Hiring the Neighborhood Gardener
If you need to hire someone, consider your neighborhood gardener. You might have to tell them exactly what you want done, but the gardener probably knows how to do most of the work, such as digging up the grass, hauling it away, and installing the new plants. You avoid a time-consuming search to find a contractor, the quality of their work is already known, they have a reason to do a good job (their long-term relationship with the neighborhood), and they probably work very hard for a reasonable fee.