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LADWP turf removal rebate

Posted by yourmomsart 10b/22 (My Page) on
Tue, Nov 19, 13 at 20:12


My partner and I bought our house in March. We live in Los Angeles (Sunset zone 22, USDA 10b). We want to get rid of the grass in our front and side yard and replace it with natives and drought tolerant plants/trees. I also want some raised beds for veggies. I believe the grass is either bermuda or crab grass. I would like to take advantage of a turf reduction rebate that LADWP and the city are offering. It requires first to apply for the program, then once approved you have 120 days to transform your space (get rid of your grass and plant drought tolerant plants). Then you turn in a second application with pictures of what you have done, plant list, etc and if they approve they send you a check. I mean that's if all goes well and you follow all the other requirements. I'm assuming that most Angelenos who are on GW probably know about it.

I wanted to tackle this project over the summer but got bogged down with some other projects, as well as the bureaucracy that is trying to apply for permits etc through the city. I also want to replace the turf in the parkways around our house, which requires a permit or waver. We live on a corner lot so there is a lot of parkway.

Any who my question boils down to, is it possible to remove bermuda and/or crab grass in only 120 days? If so which process should I use? Lasagna mulching? Clear plastic? Round-up? Vinegar? I have read through many of the grass removal threads and it seems that everyone has a different opinion. I'd rather not use round-up but I really want a clean slate. Also I am guessing I am going to have to wait until summer to tackle this, since rain is just around the corner and the grass seems to love water (at least that is what my water bill is telling me!).

Any advice would greatly be appreciated. Even if it just to say I am lazy and should just start experimenting!

Thanks so much.

P.s. I'm a new home owner and new gardener and this is my first time posting but I am so grateful for these forms. Just doing searches and reading through them has answered so many questions!

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Wed, Nov 20, 13 at 0:30

It would help to know what kind of grass it is for sure. Some grasses are a lot easier to get rid of than others--can you dig some up, place it on the driveway or sidewalk, take a clear in-focus photo and post it here?

Some types of grass are easy to get rid of because their roots are not deep. I removed my Fescue lawn just by pulling it all out, (no chemicals) and it has not come back. Same for an area that was St. Augustine--a bit of the St. Augustine grew back, I pulled that, and it was gone forever. Pulling, or Lasagna mulching, can work for those types. Vinegar would probably need multiple applications, and you need to use horticutural vinegar. The cooking kind isn't strong enough.

Bermuda is a different story because the roots can go very, very deep (6 feet) and can live to grow again, and again. If it is Bermuda--typically you Round Up, wait until the grass is very dead then water like crazy to try to see what grows back. Because some of it will grow back. Then repeat. And repeat again, until it's really dead. It will keep coming back for a while, and you have to water to see where it comes back so you can kill it and make sure you really got it all. However it's best to do this when Bermuda is actively growing, which is spring/summer. It's going dormant now, so it's not the best time of year for that. If you don't get all the Bermuda and start planting other stuff before it is truly gone, you end up with a bunch of Bermuda mixed in with the roots of your new plants and it can be a disaster. You need to be patient and get it all.

Suggestion whatever you decide to do, put up a small sign saying "Landscape Restoration in progress. Thank you for your patience" so your neighbors understand and don't complain.

Another thing, (if you dig it out) dug-out lawn is really, really, really heavy. Be prepared for a huge amount of green waste. Been there, done that.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

Thanks for the tips hoovb!

I uploaded a picture. Top half is a picture of a longer stalk I broke off. The bottom is what I believe to be its seed "pod/stem/thing". Unfortunately I was trying to quickly do this before I left for work this morning so there are no roots. BUT I can tell you that it is fast growing and spreads and when I dig it up to prevent it from going into some of my flower beds it has long white/yellowish rhizomes.

If I am to go the round-up route, I am guessing I should do the repeated cycles of water, grow, spray, kill, as you have suggested. Do I stop watering and spray at the same time? Should I be removing dead plant and root between killing and watering? How long should I let it grow before spraying again?

Sorry for the nit picky questions I am just trying to figure out if it is worth applying for the rebate, especially because they require you to get rid of your turf and plant your new landscape all in 120 days! It is hard to resist though because they are offering $2 per every square foot of turf replaced and I have over 2,000sq/ft of grass in my front yard and parkways.

Also, it's probably futile to ask this but... are there any other organic processes that will work as well as the round-up route?

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

Bermuda grass

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

I dug out the grass (some grass, mostly weeds) in my parkway! What a chore - it took forever! I planted Agapanthas, three types of fragrant geranium, Erigeron, Catmint, Irises, some creeping thyme and chasmanthe. I've received many compliments! I'm now in the process of converting my front yard - one patch at a time. So far I have Artemesia, California fuschia, Euphorbia, Gaura, Valley lavender, Achillea, Switch grass, Deer grass and Coreopsis Sunray. I'm not part of the DWP rebate, mostly because I couldn't do it in 120 days. My payoff is my much lower water bill!

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

  • Posted by socalgal USDA z10 Sunset z24, (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 22, 13 at 8:24

The top photo looks like St Augustine, but the bottom one looks like Bermuda. You may have a mixture.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 22, 13 at 16:20

bermuda, and there is nothing that works as well as roundup. But it is going dormant and roundup only works while the grass is actively growing,so you'll have to wait until spring. You can probably get 2 grow/kill cycles and plants in in 120 days. I usually like to do 4 grow/kill cycles with bermuda though.

Trying to remove bermuda grass with a shovel or sheet mulching just isn't going to happen.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

Thanks for the tips folks.

I probably have a mix but definitely some bermuda in there. I heard because bermuda goes dormant in the winter that it turns brown, but my grass is very green right now, which leads me to believe I have at least two types of grass.

I am definitely going to wait until the spring. I'm thinking I might use a sod cutter to remove the top layer after the first kill. Similar to the process in the link, except I will be skipping the tilling part.

Here is a link that might be useful:

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

We're in the same zones as you (in LA, near Culver City). Don't do Roundup on the whole yard. It's terrible for the microbes, bugs, birds, bees, etc.

Rent a sod cutter from home depot or Lowe's. I'd say we only had about 1800 square feet to remove, but it wasn't THAT difficult (yeah, hard work, and yes, rolling the sod up is heavy, but it's good exercise).

Our grass looked like yours and you could tell the lawn was there for decades. Some of it actually pulled up in sheets by HAND.

We hand-dug out with a weed tool and used Roundup on a couple of stubborn spots that came back after hand-digging VERY SPARINGLY. Definitely no need to go crazy on all of your yard.

Then we got lots of beautiful free mulch from a tree trimming company that had trimmed sycamore trees in our neighborhood and mulched the entire dirt plot with that. It's worked VERY well! I don't know how to load a before and after, but I'll try!

PS We did it when the rebate was less and we got about $1,500 back I think. We did it in one weekend.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

and after, this spring (2 years after turf removal).

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

Very nice Lynne! Love what you did and definitely agree about the Roundup!

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

  • Posted by hoovb z9 Southern CA (My Page) on
    Sat, Nov 23, 13 at 22:08

The first photo is augustine and the 2nd is bermuda.

Sod cutter, great idea for fescue, but bermuda has a high probability of returning.

The kill/water method is spray the round up and after the lawn looks really dead, then start watering it.

If the bermuda is isolated you could spot treat and just pull all the augustine.

I'm no fan of round-up, but using it to remove bermuda and then never using it again is a reasonable choice. A limited use isn't going to destroy your soil, all the living creatures in it, or all the birds in the neighborhood.

You could dig up as much as you can, plant anew, and just be extremely vigilent about digging out what comes up afterwards. With largely Augustine most of it should be okay. If there are isolated patches of Bermuda you could leave those areas empty and only plant them when you are sure the bermuda isn't going to return.

Great job lynne3450. I would get rid of the Agave americana though and put in a better-behaved Agave. If you think Bermuda grass is a weed, wait until A. americana starts popping up everywhere.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

Oh wow! lynne3450, your yard is so beautiful! Thank you for posting the pictures. Did you plant with mostly natives? If so I would love to see your plant list if you have one. The only things I recognize are the succulent and the agave. Clearly I'm new to gardening...

Spot treating sounds like a good idea, especially since I seem to have different types of grasses. I will most likely do the sod cutter then kill/water the bermuda areas. Thanks for the tips guys. I would totally prefer not to use round-up but that bermuda is wicked. I spent about four hours today trying to dig up a patch of it that is choking some other plants and I think some of the rhizomes actually went under my house.

lynne3450 also glad to hear you got the rebate! The system does work.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

  • Posted by nil13 z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Wa (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 24, 13 at 2:16

you know, all that digging up and removal of grass is also damaging to the environment. It causes nitrogen to be released into the atmosphere, decreases the fertility of the soil, and decreases the amount of organic matter in the soil. On top of all that, you are removing valuable organic matter in the form of the grass and its roots from soil that is in desperate need of organic matter. Don't think that tilling up the yard is all win-win from an environmental perspective.

Roundup is a very safe herbicide when not sprayed on food from an airplane. You can kill all the unwanted grass in your yard fairly quickly and easily. By doing multiple cycles, you will destroy most of the surface weed seeds. By not tilling up the whole yard, you won't bring up a whole new bunch of weed seeds to the surface. By not removing the grass and roots, you will be thoroughly amending your soil with dead and decomposing organic mater. You'll need more in the form of mulch, but no reason to get rid of what you have. Each time you break off a piece of bermuda grass you just form new plants. Remove one rhizome, make 2 more. Plus if it has gone to seed as it seems it has, well each one of those inflorescens has millions of seeds.

There is a reason why habitat restoration groups fight for roundup exemptions. Roundup is a critical herbicide for the eradication of invasive species and the restoration of native habitat. Before I started doing roundup grow/kill cycles to prepare a planting area for wildflower seed, the maintenance issues were awful. After talking to John Greenlee, he convinced me that these sorts of native landscapes really benefit from thorough planting area preparation in order to limit competition from invasives.

Oh, and don't worry about the microbes and such. They will get by just fine. You will have some decreases in population, but they bounce back quickly. This is only a concern if you are spraying a lot of it often for a long period of time. So unless you are spraying it from an airplane over a field 3 times a year for a decade, I think you will have a pretty healthy micro population.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

yourmomsart-- thank you! i'll get the plant list and post this weekend. mostly natives, a few climate appropriate others from south africa/australia/med.

hoovb-- thank you too! and thanks for the convincing words about the agave americana. i hate that thing, now i have evidence to share w DH that it's a pain! thank you :)

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

Botanical Name Common Name
Front Yard, South Side
Penstemon heterophyllus Penstemon Margarita Bop
Salvia clevelandii Allen Chickering Sage
Monardella villosa 'Russian River' Coyote Mint
Abutilon palmeri Indian Mallow
Eriogonum grande var. rubescens San Miguel Island Buckwheat
Cercidium floridum Blue Palo Verde
Salvia spathacea Hummingbird Sage "Powerline Pink"
Salvia leucophylla Purple Sage
Epilobium canum ssp. canum Hoary fuchsia
Fremontodendron mexicanum Mexican Flannelbush
Agastache urticifolia Horsemint
Prunus andersonii Desert Mallow
Artemisia pycnocephala David's Choice Sandhill Sage
Ceanothus 'Blue Jeans' Blue Jeans Ceanothus
Arctostaphylos edmundsi Little Sur Manzanita
Ceanothus maritimus Frosty Dawn Ceanothus
Linum lewisii Blue Flax
Calliandra californica Red Fairyduster or Zapotillo
Armeria maritima Sea Thrift or Sea Pink
Fallugia paradoxa Apache Plume
Festuca idahoensis 'Siskyiou Blue' Blue Fescue
Festuca californica California Fescue
Artemisia californica 'Canyon Grey' Canyon Grey Sagebrush
Monardella crispa Crisp Dune Mint
Front Yard, North Side
Salvia spathacea Hummingbird Sage "Las Palitas"
Cercis occidentalis Western Redbud
Salvia leucophylla Purple Sage
Epilobium canum California Fuscia
Salvia brandegei 'Pacific Blue' Pacific Blue Brandegee Sage
Erigeron glaucus Seaside Daisy
Arctostaphylos edmundsii 'Big Sur' Big Sur Manzanita
Epilobium 'Roger's UC Hybrid' Roger's UC Hybrid California fuchsia
Lepechinia calycina 'Rocky Point' Rocky Point Pitcher Sage
Juncus patens 'Elk Blue' Elk Blue Wiregrass
Festuca idahoensis 'Siskyiou Blue' Blue Fescue
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Salvia pachyphylla Rose Sage
Hyptis emoryi Desert Lavender
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy
Verbena lilacina 'De la Mina' De la Mina Lilac Verbena
Ceanothus hearstiorum Hearst's Ceanothus
Verbena lilacina 'Paseo Rancho' Paseo Rancho Lilac Verbena
Back Yard
Juncus patens 'Elk Blue' Elk Blue Wiregrass
Festuca idahoensis 'Siskyiou Blue' Blue Fescue
Galvezia speciosa 'Firecracker' Firecracker island Snapdragon
Lepechinia fragrans 'El Tigre' Pitcher Sage "El Tigre"
Heuchera cespitosa Coral Bells
Salvia clevelandii Allen Chickering Sage
Salvia apiana White Sage
Achillea millefolium Yarrow
Galvezia juncea Baja bush snapdragon
Eschscholzia californica California Poppy
Verbena lilacina Lilac Verbena
Aster chilensis Coast Aster or California Aster
Iris douglasiana Douglas Iris
Justicia californica Chuparosa or Beloperone
Mimulus cardinalis Scarlet Monkey Flower
Mimulus 'Big Tujunga Orange' Monkey Flower
Mimulus 'Junipero Serra' Monkey Flower
Sphaeralcea ambigua 'Louis Hamilton' Louis Hamilton Apricot Mallow
Mimulus aurantiacus Bush Monkeyflower, Sticky Monkeyflower
Ribes viburnifolium Catalina Currant
Sisyrinchium bellum Blue-eyed Grass
Romneya coulteri Matilija Poppy
Malosma laurina Laurel Sumac
Calystegia macrostegia 'Anacapa Pink' Anacapa Pink Island Morning Glory
Rosa gymnocarpa Wood rose
Aquilegia formosa Red or Scarlet Columbine
Baccharis sarothroides Desert Broom
Sisyrinchium bellum 'Arroyo de la Cruz' Arroyo de la Cruz Blue-Eyed Grass

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

It's hard to tell from the photo, but some of the stand-outs that have done really well in our front are:
Allen Chickering sage
purple sage
Indian mallow
California fuschia
lilac verbena
horsemint (agastache-- which you can really see popping in that photo!)
canyon gray sagebrush
san miguel island buckwheat

Theodore Payne Foundation nursery in Sunland and Grow Native nursery in Westwood have been our best sources!

Good luck!!!

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

That is quite a plant list! Thank you Lynne for being so thorough. The shortened list is very useful as well. Love the Salvia spathacea, very well placed in your yard. Who needs a hummingbird feeder when you got those babies!

Thanks for the nursery tips too! I definitely want to check out Theodore Payne as I have heard it is wonderful.

Thanks everyone for your words of wisdom! Hopefully in the spring I'll be posting some in progress picture updates.

RE: LADWP turf removal rebate

A very nice gift to hummingbirds indeed. It must be nice to sit and watch the birds and butterflies that visit now. A much happier space now and so beautiful.

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