These cities offer rebates for going low-water with your landscaping

Go low (water, that is) and get rewarded. Rebates are available from municipalities across the country for swapping in water-saving equipment and replacing your lawn with drought-tolerant plants. Check program guidelines before you jump in: Some require a site inspection before you buy anything or make changes. And you must be a resident and a utility customer to get rebates.


• Tempe

With the Landscape Rebate Program, get rebates for front-yard and backyard ($250 each) conversion of grass to desert landscaping or for new desert landscaping installation.

• Chandler

With the Landscape Rebate Program, receive rebates for irrigation controllers ($72), new landscaping that’s at least 50 percent drought-resistant ($200), and conversion of lawn to drought-tolerant landscape ($200–$600).

• Glendale

The city’s landscape rebates provide as much as $750 for converting grass to low-water-use landscape.


• California: state-wide

Search by zip code for incentives and rebates in your area.

• Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and the Family of Southern California Water Agencies

SoCal Water$mart offers rebates for weather-based irrigation controllers (from $80 per controller for an acre or less; $25 per irrigation station for larger sites), rotating sprinkler nozzles (from $4 per nozzle), and synthetic turf (from 30 cents per sq. ft.).

• Santa Rosa

Green Exchange Rebate Program has rebates for removing turf (50 cents per sq. ft.) and for improving the efficiency of irrigation. The Rainwater Harvesting Rebate Program gives rebates for storing rainwater (25 cents per gallon). The Water Conservation Check-up is a free on-site analysis of indoor and outdoor water use.

• Windsor

With the Water Efficient Landscapes Rebate Program, get up to $350 in rebates for the removal of lawn or for the purchase of sprinkler equipment that improves efficiency.

• San Diego County Water Authority

The 20-Gallon Challenge offers free landscape surveys and has rebates for weather-based irrigation controllers (from $230), synthetic turf (50 cents per sq. ft.), and rotating nozzles (up to $4 each).

• East Bay Municipal Utility District

With WaterSmart Residential Landscape Program, get a credit with proof of purchase of drip irrigation parts and rotator sprinkler heads (50 percent of price), water-conserving landscaping plants and materials (25 percent of price), and permeable hardscape materials (up to $1 per sq. ft.).

• Marin Municipal Water District

Rebates on efficient irrigation equipment and supplies (up to $350), through the Bay-Friendly Landscaping Rebate Program.


• Aurora Water

Get rebates for water-conserving landscape changes (up to $1 per sq. ft.), through the Xeriscape Rebate Program. Aurora Water also offers free irrigation audits.

• Colorado Springs Utilities

Rebates available up to $200 for rain shutoff devices, irrigation heads with check valves, weather-based irrigation controllers, and matched precipitation sprinkler nozzles (which water more evenly and slowly than regular ones).

• Boulder

Drip irrigation supplies, sprinkler controllers, low volume nozzles, and soil amendments have rebates.

• Louisville

The Water Conservation Rebate Program gives rebates on buffalo grass (25 cents per sq. ft.), soil moisture sensors (up to $50), and drip irrigation systems (50 percent off purchase price, up to $50).

• Denver Water

Weather-based irrigation controllers (25 percent off price), rain sensors ($25–$50), and irrigation rotary nozzles ($5 per nozzle) get rebates.

Next: Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Washington 


• Southern Nevada Water Authority

The Water Smart Landscapes program gives rebates for converting grass to desert landscaping (up to $1.50 per sq. ft.), for rain sensors (up to $25), and for smart irrigation controllers (up to $200). Rebate coupons offered for pool covers (up to $200). You can also get a free Indoor Water Audit and Retrofit Kit to test fixtures.


• Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority

Get money back on multi-setting sprinkler controllers (25 percent off), rotor heads for sprinklers ($2 per head), rain sensors ($25), and for rainwater harvesting (up to $150), through the Outdoor Rebate Program.


• Eugene Water & Electric Board

EWEB customers can get cash rebates for certain types of timers for lawn irrigation ($25).


• Central Utah Water Conservancy District

Rebates for irrigation improvements (up to $150 for irrigation controller stations; 50 percent of hardware costs, up to $125) for nozzles, drip systems, etc., through Landscape Irrigation Product Rebates.


• Saving Water Partnership of Seattle and King County

Rebates (up to $375) for upgrading sprinkler systems or installing smart controllers are available.

• Cascade Water Alliance

In its Irrigation Efficiency Program, Cascade offers rebates for rain sensors and weather-based irrigation controllers (up to $400 for existing irrigation systems; up to $375 for new systems).

(This post was originally published on

Why Winter's a Great Time to Start Your Landscape Project


Landscape design in winter? Seems crazy. Well, actually crazy smart. Cold rain and wind typically don’t inspire people to think about outdoor patios and flowers. Usually, most people enjoy their outdoor spaces during the warmer months and their attention strays from their yards as the first rain and snow arrives. So you might be surprised to learn  winter is actually a great time to kick start your outdoor space design.

Yardzen is the brand-new way to design your outdoor spaces, all online. Starting with just your address and understanding of your lifestyle, taste and how you want to use your outdoor spaces, Yardzen designs the perfect yard for you without ever stepping foot in your yard. Then, should you choose, we connect you with vetted landscapers and contractors who can bring your design to life. Depending on your local climate, clients who start the Yardzen process in late fall and winter can choose to take advantage of all of the upsides of starting your design now, or go full force and get your plan installed, too.

Here are just a few reasons why now’s a great time to start your landscape design:

It allows ample time: Starting a design in late fall or winter allows you to take your time when creating your vision for a space. During spring and summer, there’s a rush to start and finish the design process quickly, which can lead to sacrificing key details. Since there’s plenty of time to design in winter before building begins in the spring, it’s best to have a set plan that you’re confident in. Any sort of home improvement can be stressful, so why not give yourself more time to breathe and create the design ahead of time? Pour over Pinterest, take a stroll through a nursery, drive around your neighborhood and assess what you like.

See your outdoor space through winter’s lens: During late fall and winter the leaves fall from your trees and your garden is generally less sparse. This is a huge advantage in that you’ll see which spaces require hardy plants that will withstand the cold season and your design will be better informed, ultimately becoming a plan that looks good year-round.

If you live in the western U.S. or any other location where the climate is moderate and snow is rare, getting your plants in the ground now has its perks.


Here are a few reasons why winter’s also a great time to have your plan installed.

Discounts! Due to the drop in demand for landscape services in the winter, there are frequent opportunities to save money. Landscaping projects have a rep for being quite pricey, however that doesn’t have to be the case. Contractors are much more liable to giving special discounts during the slower months, as are lots of nurseries and materials suppliers.

Everyone has more availability: Regardless of where you live, you’ll get more attention from contractors in the winter. The demand for contractors is much lower in the cold weather, therefore it’s easiest to get on the priority list for pros before the actual building season. Beating the curve in the winter provides an opportunity to make sure you’re compatible with the contractor and that all of your goals will be met.

See how your new landscape stands up to winter conditions: According to Pacific Outdoor Living, “observing your yard in the winter to see how it handles the rain, cold and foot traffic is a good idea and can even be an eye-opening experience.” You’ll see first-hand if there are any irrigation, drainage or runoff problems that need to be addressed.

Rain instead of irrigation: The rainiest months of the year in most places are winter and spring, so why not let your plants soak up those nutrients and grow big and strong for summer? By treating them to a rainy season they’ll be more resilient to harsh, dry summer conditions.

Get your Yardzen landscape design started today by completing your design profile.

Five questions with a Yardzen Pro: Ian Russell Lighting Design

Editor’s note: Welcome to a new feature on the Yardzen blog where we interview a Yardzen Pro: a contractor in the Yardzen Pro Network helping to bring our clients’ Yardzen designs to life. We hope you enjoy it! And if you’re a contractor interested in joining the Pro Network, get in touch.

YZ: Let’s start at the beginning. What’s your backstory? How’d you find your way to lighting design?

IR: I was introduced to lighting design in a round-about way. It began with a need to use up-lighting for my art glass, a hobby of mine. I wanted to create a dramatic edge-lit effect. It was more of an intuitive move. My father, who’s an architect, introduced me to all kinds of materials and glass constituted a large part of his architectural designs. I would hold up different colored samples of plate glass to the light and try and position it for the best light penetration and effect. I guess one might call it a natural progression, experimenting with translucent materials and light. Iterating and self-critiquing is how I became a lighting designer.

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting

YZ: What’s your favorite thing about your profession?

IR: Definitely the problem solving that’s a fundamental part of the role. Every project involves problem solving. I’ve learned to allow myself space for it and over time developed a confidence that I’ll come up with the right solution. I‘ve learned to be patient, too.

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

YZ: . Tell me a story about a specific job that really stands out where lighting really made all the difference in the space.

IR: It was a custom house in Mill Valley, CA with a steep-pitched, open-beam ceiling that was 25-feet high at the highest point. Compounding the problem was the fact that there were no walls separating the kitchen, dining and living room areas. After experimenting with many different types of fixtures, we used small high-tech projector lamps, the same type that are used in fine art galleries and museums. The projector lamps enabled us to change focal lengths so we could frame just a wall painting or just a seating area. At night it looked like a theater stage. We could manipulate the projector lens and create a very dramatic and mysterious look. The quality of light made everyone and everything look softly Illuminated.

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

YZ: Why is lighting so important to outdoor space design?

IR: I like to make my outdoor lighting designs serve as a welcome mat of sorts, so people can truly enjoy the beauty of the outdoor space. If it’s done correctly, outdoor lighting increases the living space. Example: put subtle up lights in the corners of your landscape’s parameter and your eye will automatically go to the farthest corner that has light. I call it “quiet lighting.” And in a project done well, quiet lighting should exist throughout the entire project.

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

YZ: What trend in lighting design has you most excited right now?

IR: Mobile technology. The ability to dim and control a single light in the garden using an app on your phone. It’s amazing! Each individual light bulb is controllable.

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

Credit: Ian Russell Lighting Design

Thanks, Ian!

Who: Ian Russell Lighting Design

Where: San Francisco, CA

What: Expert lighting designer and contractor, whose number one goal is to help you get more out of your outdoor spaces. (Hey! That sounds familiar!)

About Yardzen: The brand new way to design your outdoor spaces, all online. Starting with just your address and an understanding of your lifestyle, taste and how you want to use your outdoor space, Yardzen designs the perfect yard for you without ever stepping foot on your property. Then, should you choose, Yardzen connects you with vetted landscapers and contractors who can bring your design to life. Learn more.

How the Yardzen Botanical Makeover Works

Yardzen's Botanical Makeover ($249) gives you a professional landscape design for one area of your yard, coupled with a shopping list and a planting plan you can either tackle on your own or hand off to a landscaper. If you're looking to simply replace or update the plants in your yard the Yardzen Botanical Makeover could be perfect for you.  Here's how it works. 


Step 1: Take a photo (or two) of your most challenging outdoor area. 

Complete your Design Profile, where you'll be asked some quick and easy questions about your style and preferences, and also to upload a couple photos of the outdoor area you've picked for the Makeover.

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Step 2: Your Yardzen designer gets to work.

Factoring your property's unique characteristics -- things like sun and shade patterns, your climate and planting zone and slope -- your designer creates a plan that's just for you. It includes not only plants that should thrive there, but plants that are uniquely matched to your style.

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Step 3: The big reveal

The step everyone loves the most: the one where you get your design. Unlike traditional landscape designs that show you a top-down view, making it hard to envision what it might look like planted, Yardzen's rendering gives you a life-like glimpse into how your design will look implemented. Your design also comes with a shopping list with quantities and a planting plan.

Botanical Makeover High Res.jpg

Have questions before you get started? Our design team can't wait to hear from you.

How to choose the perfect spot for a playspace

Summer's upon us and now more than ever your kids will play outside. If you're like most parents who come to Yardzen to redesign their outdoor spaces, a cozy, creative playspace for your kids is at the top of your priority list. Here are some universal guidelines for choosing the perfect spot in your yard for your kids' dream playspace.

Start with the perimeter

To maximize use of your backyard and ensure you're left with room for the other elements you want — that gorgeous patio, the vegetable garden and the outdoor kitchen, to name a few — consider placing your playspace along the perimeter of your property. If you have a fence this serves the added bonus of providing a backdrop and, in effect, adding major coziness factor.



Work with the elements you already have

There's nothing like a good climbing tree if you're a kid, and if you're lucky enough to have one or a few, particularly along a fence line, this is likely your playspace spot. Incorporate the tree(s) in your design and make it look like your playspace not only belongs there, but has always been there.

Image: Active for Life

Image: Active for Life

Keep it in view

You could create the most amazing playspace for your kids, but if you can't see them playing from a convenient vantage point, it just won't work. Especially if your kids are small you'll be dragging a chair to where you can watch, or constantly going back and forth to check on them. So why not choose a spot where you can easily watch them play. From a patio, from a kitchen window, from the living room. If it's not obvious work with your Yardzen designer to choose the best spot where you can keep an eye on them as they play.



Work with topography

Maybe the slope of your yard is a thorn in your past design attempts, but here at Yardzen we say embrace it! Work with a hill to create a playground for your kids that you'd have loved yourself as a child. The possibilities for climbing walls and slides are limitless.

Image: Pinterest

Image: Pinterest