A conservation milestone: 10 million square feet of sustainable landscape

Picture in your mind a football field – one hundred yards long, plus two end zones. Now picture 173 of them. That’s a lot of green, right?  Well, that’s also the approximate area of lawn that has been transformed, through the District’s Landscape Conversion Rebate Program, into gorgeous low-water using landscapes.

This year, the Santa Clara Valley Water District achieved a major milestone, converting its 10 millionth square foot of landscape in Santa Clara County since the program began in 2006. While the program is ten years old, most of those landscapes were converted in the last two years during California’s historic drought.

Although the district provided the incentive in the form of a rebate, much of the credit goes to the residents and businesses of Santa Clara County, who responded to the drought and transformed their yards. Says program manager Ashley Carter Shannon, “It’s so impressive to go down a street and see so many beautiful, sustainable landscapes that are perfect for our California climate.”  Credit should also go to local cities, such as Palo Alto, Cupertino, Morgan Hill, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale and San Jose, who contributed funding to the rebate program.

Ashley, who has managed the program since the drought began, also notes that it’s also fun to work with residents through the program because “they are so excited about and connected to their new landscape, in a way they weren’t before.”  Says one local resident who went through the program, “The first time I saw butterflies fluttering around the plants in my front yard, I was so happy and proud.”

Of course, the main motivator for many who go through the program is the resulting water savings. The plants on the program’s qualifying list are suited to our Mediterranean climate and simply don’t need as much water once established. So how much water is saved by transforming 10 million square feet of turf to water-wise plants? The answer is approximately 350 million gallons of water each year, which is enough water for more than 2,500 homes.

This water savings is very impressive and it will help the water district reach its long-term water savings goals. But for Ashley, it’s all part of a larger trend of sustainability in landscaping. “One of my favorite things is seeing the number of California native plants on our program applications, which help to restore the ecology of our area, one garden at a time.” California native plants provide excellent habitat for bees, butterflies and other native species.

And the program is part of a larger movement toward more sustainable landscapes. Low water-use landscapes are becoming more of the norm in our semi-arid region. The state of California and Our City Forest’s Lawn Busters program also help convert more landscape.

If you are interested in learning more about the Landscape Conversion Rebate Program, please go to www.watersavings.org or call the Water Conservation Hotline at (408) 630-2554.

Looking for inspiration for your water-wise landscape? Peek at our gallery here.


    1. Hi Larry,
      Sorry to hear you are not receiving a response. We will forward your information to the Conservation team immediately. Please note that prior to receiving a rebate the process requires a pre-inspection, notice to proceed, post-project inspection and notice of completion. Eligibility is contingent on completing these steps.


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