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Park City residents can get paid to pull up their lawns

Oct 22, 2023

Susan Cordone, a water analyst with Park City Municipal, walked around the front yard of Jim and Barbara Svoboda's home on Sunny Slopes Drive in Park Meadows.

Cordone is helping the Svobodas navigate the city's recently launched landscape initiative program. A site visit like this is the first step Park City homes and businesses must take in this "cash for grass" incentive.

"If you're removing your turf, you can't actually keep your overhead spray irrigation. Rather, you would have to convert it to a drip irrigation," said Cordone.

Park City's landscape initiative program, launched on May 1, will rebate homeowners or business owners up to $2 per square foot of turf removed, as long as it's replaced with water wise and fire wise landscaping.

Single family homes can receive up to $10,000 in payment. Commercial businesses and multi-family buildings max out at $50,000.

The city has budgeted $200,000 for the pilot, and could add another $200,000 in next year's budget.

The idea appealed to the Svobodas who are looking to do something that's better for both the environment and their pocketbook.

"Grass was always the gold standard for suburban living, and I have many happy memories of my kids playing ball in our grassy backyard, but now that we're out here, I think it's different," said Barbara Svoboda.

"And water use, the price," Jim Svoboda said. "I wasn't paying attention one year a couple of years ago and my water bill was $600 for a month. Whoa, I better change this a little bit."

Before meeting with Cordone, the Svobodas spoke with a local landscaping company. Their initial plan was to tear out all the grass and replace it with mostly gravel and mulch.

"A gravel bed right by the concrete there," Jim Svoboda said.

"That's fine," Cordone said. "That's perfectly in line with the program parameters with regards to having some sort of gravel or mulch in some areas. But then one of the main things to keep in mind is that once the turf is removed, you do need to place 50% plant coverage back into the property. So we're not looking for you to completely cover this whole area in rock or mulch."

To qualify, at least half of a property's landscape must be vegetative in order to prevent what are called heat islands. These toasty atolls, like sidewalks and parking lots, absorb and re-emit the sun's heat more than natural landscapes.

Rock-cover cannot be more than 20% of the new ground cover and artificial turf is not allowed.

Cordone said it's imperative for homeowners to plan a site visit before putting even a spade into the ground. Otherwise they could be disqualified from the incentive program.

"Like Barb just mentioned, she did not completely realize about the plant coverage," Cordone said. "She was going to think about planting down the road and that's not part of the program. So creating the expectations, right at the beginning, I think is going to help the program become even more successful."

Learn more about Park City's landscape initiative program and schedule a site visit here.