First, determine which agency provides your water. Then, click on www.BeWaterSmart.info, the Regional Water Authority’s one-stop website for water savers.
Most likely, your provider is Orange Vale Water Co., http://www.orangevalewater.com/, (916) 988-1693. Currently, that agency provides exterior and landscape surveys of single-family homes with recommendations on ways to save water, but does not have a “cash for grass” or turf replacement incentive program in place. (California-American Water Co. and Placer County Water Agency both have turf replacement incentives, according to the RWA.)
The Regional Water Authority does have a rebate program that includes an audit of your yard’s water use and rebate incentives to purchase and install water-efficient irrigation equipment. It’s available to customers in several water districts. For more details, contact the RWA at (916) 967-7692.
As for what California natives to plant instead of turf, check out two links from the BeWaterSmart home page: Water-Wise Gardening and Water-Smart Gardening. They may sound like the same thing, but the two links take you to very different introductions to low-water landscaping. The Water-Wise link focuses on plants for Gold Country and Sierra foothills gardens, featuring an interactive database of more than 1,800 low-water plants. The Water-Smart link takes you to the Blue Thumb Gardener home page and includes step-by-step information on how to do water-smart makeovers such as lawn replacement.
Also, check out the UC Davis Arboretum ( arboretum.ucdavis.edu) and its low-water plant collections such as Arboretum All-Stars, featuring many California natives. The website offers plant suggestions and a how-to plan for designing your own California native garden. You can see a gallery of all 100 Arboretum All-Stars on The Bee’s Home & Garden page, too.
Roseville and Elk Grove both have “ Greener Gardener” programs that showcase water-wise landscapes. On April 26, Elk Grove will host a tour of its Greener Gardens as well as a DIY Expo at Miwok Park for anybody who wants to learn how to have a more water-efficient garden. Many vendors and experts will be available to answer questions. Roseville’s Greener Garden tour is set for May 17.