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Drought struck city gives homeowners incentive to kill lawns

City asks homeowner to kill lawns

In the state of Texas, 100 percent of the state has been in drought conditions for months with most of the state being in the most extreme drought on record, leaving cities and counties to scramble for resources. Creeks have dried up, lakes are drying up and water is becoming scarce. Burn bans have been in effect for many months as have watering schedules in various drought struck cities.

In Austin, the water utility company has come up with a creative measure to reserve water- they are asking residents to let their St. Augustine grass die and they will pay $10 per 100 square feet of lawn to plant a more drought-hearty grass, according to the Austin American Statesman.

Not only does this save water as the lawn is not watered while it dies, but with a grass that requires less water, it is a preventative measure. St. Augustine grass has long been the choice of home builders in Austin as it is inexpensive, and some homeowner’s associations even require it, but it requires more water and fertilizer than other types of grass. Homeowners seeking the rebate must have soil at least six inches deep (which is not always the case in central Texas), sprinkler systems must be checked for leaks, and the entire front yard, back yard or both must be replace and reportedly, homeowners who have too frequently violated the city’s lawn watering rules are not eligible.

Austin Water announced the plan, requesting homeowners instead use Bermuda grass or buffalo grass which cost roughly $65 per 100 square feet and homeowners have one month to apply for the rebate, while homeowners are already eligible for a $20 per 100 square feet rebate to convert lawns to native plants and long have been eligible for a $30 per 100 square feet rebate to convert lawns to xeriscape.

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Challenges: HOAs and fire risks

The tricky part for Austin homeowners and other cities that seek to implement this program is that many homeowner’s associations not only forbid dead lawns, but require specific grass types. We speculate that this rebate will most likely be used by homeowners whose lawns have already died, those who were seeking to reinstall sod, and those buying a new home.

Will other cities follow suit as the drought continues, or will dead grass be yet another fire risk in areas like Austin that have already experienced massive, historic wildfires?

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

16 Comments

16 Comments

  1. ShortWoman

    September 19, 2011 at 11:41 am

    It's very simple. The city or county can pass a law that specifically overrides HOA rules regarding lawns. It doesn't happen often, but the Feds did it with the 1996 Telecommunications Law — which is why your HOA can't regulate whether you have a TV antenna or satellite dish.

  2. Karen From shopshawneehomes

    September 19, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    This will become a major dilemma for home owners and real estate businesses. A lawn is one major attraction for home buyers. I think if that's the case people just have to be more creative. Instead of grass on laws, make it paved or look for alternative designs like pebbles.

  3. MissClarity

    September 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    Sooooooo simple to fix. Just spray dye the yard green. There problem solved.

    Or, the state of Texas could stop killing all those convicts and just maybe God will forgive you and give you a blessing called rain. But Texas says "praise the Lord anyway."

    Just saying.

  4. Owasso homes for sale

    September 27, 2011 at 6:41 am

    It's a depressing news for a lot of people especially if they love to garden or have green laws all year round. And also, houses with wide grass lawns will definitely be affected unless owners will take necessary steps to address the problem.

  5. Hoover homes for sale

    October 19, 2011 at 2:12 am

    A paved lawn is always an alternative. It's low maintenance and wont be a problem.

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