Pass on the Grass: Scottsdale’s Latest Effort to Conserve Water Impacts New Homes

By Jessica Swarner

August 8, 2023

Want to get onboard with water saving? Rebates can help. Keep reading for news about Valley cities offering them to residents and businesses who transition to landscaping that uses less water. 

Building a new home in Scottsdale? You’ll need to get creative with the front lawn. That’s because the Scottsdale City Council’s ban on natural grass is about to go into effect. 

The ordinance, which passed unanimously on July 10, bans water-intensive natural grass in the front lawns of single-family homes built or permitted after Aug. 15, 2023. 

According to city officials, 86% of Scottsdale Water customers supported the initiative. In fact, during the first half of 2023 alone, residents and businesses stepped up to the city’s challenge to cut water usage by 5%—and they exceeded expectations. From January to June, the city cut water usage back by 9% compared to the past three years, and residents and businesses hit 7%—that’s about 657 million gallons saved.

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Scottsdale leaders see the new front-lawn ordinance as another example of how they’re making waves in water conservation and sustainability. 

“By adopting this ordinance, Scottsdale aims to lead the way in water conservation practices, setting an example for other communities across the region,” said Brian Biesemeyer, Scottsdale Water’s executive director, in a press release.

The city offers rebates to residents for smart irrigation controllers, water softener removal, pool and spa removal, grass removal, and smart-home water monitors. Other water customers like multifamily units and businesses have access to even more rebates

Not the Only City Making Waves

Scottsdale isn’t the only city in the Valley encouraging cutbacks on water usage. 

Last month, Gilbert launched a program that gives residents up to $800 if they replace grass in their yards with landscaping that uses less water. The program has limited funds and is first-come, first-served, but it could be renewed if successful. 

The town also offers up to $250 in rebates for residents who purchase a smart irrigation controller. 

Nonresidential water customers can receive up to $3,000 for replacing grass and up to $400 for a smart irrigation controller. 

Chandler offers rebates for xeriscaping, grass removal, and smart irrigation controllers, as well as water conservation retrofit kits for homes built before 1992. 

Mesa Water District offers a number of residential and commercial rebates, including programs encouraging turf removal, drip irrigation, and pool covers to prevent evaporation. The city of Mesa offers up to $1,100 for residents replacing grass with xeriscape. 

Other Valley cities that offer rebates for residential water conservation projects are Avondale, Buckeye, Glendale, Peoria, Surprise, and Tempe. 

Phoenix does not offer rebates, but the city’s website says it plans to launch some in the second half of this year.

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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