Lawn Busters: Saving water one lawn at a time

By Karen Koppett, Senior Water Conservation Specialist

Brightly colored hummingbirds zoom around from one red flower to the next, drinking in the nectar from Jeanette Kaliska’s California fuchsia, planted in her garden as part of her Lawn Busters lawn conversion, a program to convert high-water-using lawns to drought-tolerant landscaping.

Jeanette too can explore her garden, thanks to the heavy flag stones and dymondia groundcover that let her wheelchair navigate the pathway – also part of her Lawn Busters yard makeover.

“I love my yard. Love it, love it! My best thrill is seeing the hummingbirds daily come to the flowers,” she said.

The program that made this happen, Lawn Busters, is administered by Our City Forest. You may not know this local nonprofit dedicated to urban forestry and environmental stewardship – but you have probably enjoyed the shade of one of the countless trees they have planted around Silicon Valley since 1994.

In 2015, Our City Forest and the Santa Clara Valley Water District teamed up to bring their lawn conversion program to folks in our county who may not be able to transform their lawns otherwise. The program is designed to provide a low-cost, easy option for low-income, elderly, disabled or veteran homeowners and institutions within disadvantaged communities to convert their grass to drought-tolerant plants.

Since the program began, 142 projects have been completed, converting 135,000 square feet of lawn to beautiful climate-appropriate plants that hummingbirds and homeowners can all enjoy.

“This was one of the most memorable OCF projects I’ve had the privilege to be present for,” Our City Forest Planting Manager, Edgar Echevarria said of Jeanette’s yard.

The water district is proud to be a funding partner for this program, which we hope will continue to bloom and grow. We fund programs like this as part of our work to provide clean, safe water and guarantee our water supply for the future.

To find out more about Lawn Busters, go to


  1. The drought-tolerant plant program to replace grass at homes and businesses is a wise policy. Thanks to the Water District for that. But the Water District’s financial support for the Delta tunnel boondoggle is unwise. And there is substantial evidence that the water board is wasting money, as in the golden spigot cited by the San Jose Mercury News on many occasions.


  2. What politically correct nonsense. The only reason the county wants to get rid of people’s lawns is so they can allow even more people to move and further overcrowd the Bay Area. There was plenty of water for a reasonably large population all through the 70s, 80s, and 90s, but this last decade or so has allowed far too many people to move in, just to increase the tax base, and the expense of a beautiful community.

    You do not need to choose between a lawn and a fuschia. Old yards used to have both. The water isn’t wasted on a lawn, it simply cycles back to the ocean and returns in future rainfalls. Not like filling a landfill with garbage.


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