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Yes, switching from grass to desert landscapes can save lots of water

Experts say the common water-saving tip is true. A rebate program found the average family making the switch saved 70,000 gallons of water annually.

PHOENIX — In Arizona, it can feel like every drop of water counts.

A decades-long drought has our water supply starting to dwindle, and shortages in Lake Mead are felt throughout the state.

A lot of families may wonder if common water-saving tips actually work.

Grass lawns can easily become the first casualty when someone's looking to curb water usage. But does getting rid of grass lawns really make a big difference?


Does changing your yard from grass to a desert landscape save that much water?


Haley Paul, policy director with Audubon
The Scottsdale water resources department.


Yes, switching from grass to a desert landscape can save a lot of water. The Scottsdale Grass Removal Rebate Progam says the average family saved 70,000 gallons annually.


“For every square foot of grass removed, they are seeing 57 gallons saved," said Haley Paul.

When it’s 100 degrees outside, the heat can make us and our plants thirsty.

Over the last five years, the Scottsdale grass removal rebate program says the average person saved around 50 gallons of water per square foot. The average yard that made the switch was around 1,400 square feet, equaling an annual savings of 70,000 gallons.

While grass does require more water than desert cacti and brush, it isn't the only reason for the water savings.

“Honestly, if we watered our grass better, more wisely, it wouldn’t take up as much water," Paul said.

Paul said residents often water grass too frequently and inefficiently.
Watering less often, with sprinklers that release water more slowly, would make our system more efficient.

“By applying the water slower, you won’t see the runoff on the sidewalk,” Paul said.

Desert plants are even more efficient since they use drip irrigation if anything at all.

Tips on water conservation from the state can be found here.

Tips from the city of Phoenix can be found here.

Information on municipal rebate programs for Scottsdale, Mesa, and Chandler.

RELATED: Which trees can survive Arizona's megadrought?

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