Turf Replacement Program

Turf Replacement Program Overview

Water is a valuable resource in Montrose County. The benefits of turf grass are limited. In an effort to ensure that our water resources are put to good use, Montrose County’s turf replacement program compensates landowners interested in replacing turf with more water-wise landscaping. This program reimburses approved landowners for up to $2,000 in project costs and as much $2.00 per square foot to replace turf. With limited funding available, a competitive awards process will reimburse plans that best accomplish the criteria listed below.


Initial Application – Due March 30, 2023
 Anyone interested in participating in the turf replacement program shall submit an initial application.  Applications will be rated based on the proposed project and how it meets the criteria listed throughout the guidance.  Not all applications will be selected for the rebate program.

Requested Follow up Information – Due April 30, 2023
 Applicants selected through the initial application process will have thirty days to submit a full landscaping plan along with required reimbursement paperwork. Landscaping plans are not required to be done by a professional.

Turf Program Rebate Project Awards announced – May 30, 2023
Montrose County will announce the selected projects. Those applicants that are selected will have through October 31st to complete their projects. Reimbursements will not take place until the project is complete and Montrose County staff has verified the project has meet the program guidance criteria.

Reimbursement Criteria

  • Costs must be documented to be eligible for reimbursement. Actual receipts will be required.
  • Reimbursement cannot exceed project costs.
  • Projects must be completed prior to reimbursement.
  • 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.
  • Projects must replace a minimum of 200 sq. ft. of high water use turf to be eligible for reimbursement.
  • Pictures of proposed project areas will be required in the initial application.
  • A complete landscaping plan that includes the existing sprinkler layout, square footage of existing turf, square footage for turf designated for removal, final landscape design, and the plant species and their locations will be required as part of the follow up information.
  • Layouts for existing and new irrigation systems will be required.
  • A site visit may be required prior to reimbursement.
  • Funding may be withheld or partial funding awarded if criteria are unmet by the project completion date.
  • Funding may be withheld or partial funding awarded for projects started prior to approval.

Approval Process

  • This program utilizes a competitive awards process.
  • Projects must meet the reimbursement criteria to be eligible.
  • Funding will be awarded to projects that best achieve the desired outcomes outlined below.
  • Projects do not need to meet all the desired outcomes to be eligible for reimbursement.
  • Applications demonstrating benefits beyond water conservation may be given additional consideration in the awards process. Examples might include improvements to wildlife habitat, soil health, erosion, water quality, or energy efficiency.
  • 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

  • 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.
  • While aesthetics may not translate directly into water savings, it is important that projects help showcase the beauty of landscaping that is well adapted to our climate. Projects that showcase aesthetics of water-wise landscaping create interest in these practices and help demonstrate the benefits of Montrose County’s turf replacement program.
  • Properties where turf was established prior to the implementation of the Montrose County Turf Replacement Program will be more competitive.
  • Removing existing trees and shrubs is not a requirement for reimbursement. Those plants may need supplemental water after turf is removed.
  • 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.
  • Native plants are encouraged but are not a requirement for the program. These species can produce conditions and secondary benefits that create a more competitive application.
  • Landscape elements creating beneficial use of natural resources may warrant additional consideration. 
    1. Gardens may not create significant water savings but they use water and land beneficially. Gardens designed to conserve water would best meet desired outcomes.
    2. 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. 
  • 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.
  • Sound water conservation and sustainable landscaping strategies used in addition to, or in support of, low-water landscaping will be considered if adequately documented. 
    1. For innovative or novel approaches, detailed explanations and information from reputable sources (preferably peer reviewed) should be included to demonstrate those benefits. Those strategies must be relevant in our region. Examples might include rain gardens or installing high efficiency sprinkler heads with low-water turf.
  • 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.
  • To ensure transparency in the awards process, scores and summaries for awarded projects may be made available to future applicants.
  • 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.

  • The initial application is available by clicking here
  • Initial applications are due by March 30, 2023.
  • 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 30, 2023.
  • 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.