Turf Replacement Program

Turf Replacement Program Guidance

Program: reimburse

Water is a valuable resource in Montrose County. This program repays landowners who replace their turf grass with drought tolerant landscaping. This program reimburses approved landowners for up to $2,000 in project costs. This year, Montrose County, the City of Montrose and State of Colorado have all contributed to the funding pool. However, there is limited funding available. To apply, review the information below.

Timeline

Initial Application – Due March 1, 2024

Anyone who wants to participate in the program needs to submit an application. Applications are rated on how well the proposed project meets the listed criteria. Not all applications will be selected for the rebate program.

Requested Follow up Information – Due April 1, 2024

Selected applicants have thirty days to submit a landscaping plan and other paperwork. Landscaping plans are not required to be done by a professional.

Turf Program Rebate Project Awards announced – May 1, 2024

Montrose County will announce the selected projects by May 1. Selected applicants will have through October 31st to complete their projects. Applicants will be reimbursed following the completion of the project. A Montrose County staff member will do a final staff visit before releasing reimbursement.

Reimbursement Criteria:

  1. Costs must be documented to be eligible for reimbursement. Actual receipts are required.
  2. Reimbursement cannot exceed project costs. Projects must be completed prior to reimbursement.
  3. Replacing turf with low-water plants/turf is eligible for rebates of up to $2.00/sq. ft. Reimbursement shall be capped at $2,000 per applicant.
  4. Astro turf will not be eligible for reimbursement.
  5. Pictures of proposed project areas are required in the initial application.
  6. A map of the proposed project area is required in the initial application.
  7. A complete landscaping plan is required if the project is selected. Landscaping plans should include:
    1. Existing sprinkler layout
    2. Square footage of existing turf
    3. Square footage of turf designated for removal
    4. Final landscape design
    5. Plant species and their locations
    6. Layouts for existing and new irrigation systems
  8. A site visit may be required prior to reimbursement.
  9. Funding will be withheld if criteria are unmet by the project completion date.
  10. Project costs must have been incurred in 2024.

Approval Process:

  1. This program utilizes a competitive awards process.
  2. Funding will be awarded to projects that best achieve the desired outcomes outlined below.
  3. Projects do not need to meet all the desired outcomes to be eligible for reimbursement.
  4. Applications with benefits beyond water conservation may be given additional consideration. Examples might include improvements to wildlife habitat, soil health, erosion, water quality, or energy efficiency.
  5. Landowners are responsible for meeting any regulations, ordinances and laws including, but not limited to, HOA regulations, City Ordinances, County Ordinances and the Colorado Noxious Weed Act.

Project Evaluation and Desired Outcomes:

  1. Projects conserving more water represent a better use of program funding. Though reimbursement is capped at $2,000 and $2.00/sq. ft., projects exceeding 1,000 square feet for xeriscaping and 2,000 sq. ft. for low-water turf will be more competitive.
  2. Projects should showcase the beauty of landscaping that is adapted to our climate.
  3. Properties shall have established turf to be eligible.
  4. Removing existing trees and shrubs is not a rule for reimbursement, however, those plants may need supplemental water after the turf is removed.
  5. When choosing groundcovers, mulch, rock, artificial turf, and hardscapes all have trade-offs. Competitive applications will reference recommendations from CSU Extension and other reputable sources.
  6. Native plants are encouraged but are not required. These species can produce conditions and secondary benefits that create a more competitive application.
  7. Landscape elements creating beneficial use of natural resources may warrant additional consideration.
  8. Gardens may not create significant water savings but they use water and land beneficially. Gardens designed to conserve water would best meet desired outcomes.
  9. Trees can consume a lot of water but, among other things, they can reduce home energy costs and benefit wildlife. Native and ornamental trees can be part of a “sustainable” landscape plan.
  10. Invasive weeds and trees harm our native ecosystems and landowners. Transitioning your lawn to dryland can create conditions that favor invasive species. Weeds can be expected, but the strongest projects will consider invasive species issues. Failure to adequately address these issues may disqualify an application.
  11. Organizations like CSU Extension, Plant Select, Colorado Stormwater Center, CSU Extension Plant Talk or Waterwise Yards are excellent resources.

Additional Considerations for Landowners:

  • Landowners are encouraged to move forward with plans for water-wise landscaping regardless of funding availability.
    1. Most landowners will see significant monetary savings in removing turf. 
    2. Reducing water use has benefits to our agriculture producers, our native ecosystems and in complex social issues extending beyond the county line. 
  • Water-wise landscaping can be more than landscape fabric and rocks. Landowners are encouraged to explore viable approaches that best achieve desired outcomes.
  • Xeriscaping is not “zero-scaping.” Though most will see significant decreases in yard maintenance, xeriscaping still requires some work. That work can be very different from maintaining a lawn. 
  • Existing trees, shrubs, and other landscape features can be affected by changes in the adjacent landscaping. Care should be taken to ensure existing landscape features are adequately maintained.
    1. Trees and shrubs often grow to be dependent on water and runoff from lawns and existing irrigation systems.
    2. Landscape fabric can impact water infiltration and soil health. It can girdle trees, and promote shallow roots with diminished drought tolerance.
    3. Lists of potential impacts and landowner resources are not exhaustive. Landowners should consider consulting with experts to achieve the best outcomes.
  • Projects can be completed in phases but work eligible for reimbursement must be completed between your start date and the completion date. 

How to Apply:

Review all program requirements to ensure your plan will meet reimbursement criteria.

  • Turf Replacement Application
  • Initial applications are due by March 1, 2024.
  • Montrose County staff will be in contact with each applicant. Those who score the highest will be selected to submit follow up information including a full landscaping plan and reimbursement paperwork. Follow up information must be submitted by April 1, 2024.
  • Following the project, recipients will be asked to supply their continuing water usage as data collected for future reimbursement projects.
  • For more information contact Justin Musser, Ecological Services Manager at 970-249-5216 or jmusser@montrosecounty.net.