New rebate aims to inspire Southern Californians to plant trees

News for Immediate Release__
New rebate aims to inspire Southern Californians to plant trees

Residents, businesses can now get $100 per tree as part of Turf Replacement Program to promote more sustainable landscapes

March 5, 2024

VAN NUYS, Calif. – With the goal of expanding the region’s urban tree canopy, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California launched today a new rebate that offers residents and businesses $100 for each eligible tree they plant in their yards as they replace their thirsty grass for more sustainable landscaping.

Against the backdrop of a Van Nuys home with a sustainable, water-efficient garden, Metropolitan officials announced the addition of the tree incentive to the district’s long-standing turf replacement rebate, which temporarily increases the base incentive to $3 for every square foot of grass that residents remove and replace with California Friendly® and native plants, thanks to a federal grant.

“Trees are critical to the beauty and sustainability of our neighborhoods, so we hope this change to our rebate program will build on our decades of work to transform Southern California’s landscapes to be more appropriate for our climate and create important habitat for our local wildlife,” said Metropolitan board Chair Adán Ortega, Jr.

Officials announced the launch of the new rebate in honor of Cindy Montañez, who most recently served as a San Fernando City Council member and the chief executive officer of TreePeople before her passing in October 2023.

“During the last drought in 2022, I was working with San Fernando Councilmember Cindy Montañez on our city’s drought resolution, and she had the idea of adding an incentive for planting trees when people rip out their lawns,” said Ortega, who also represents the city of San Fernando on Metropolitan’s board. “She noted that many trees died in the previous droughts when people stopped watering their lawns or ripped out their turf. The lack of trees, in turn, was exacerbating hot and dry conditions by spurring the heat island effect.”

Metropolitan’s new rebate provides the incentive for up to five trees in residents’ and businesses’ turf replacement projects. The district worked in partnership with TreePeople and local water agencies, and consulted data from Sacramento Tree Foundation, Urban Forest Ecosystem Institute at Cal Poly, UC Davis and UC Riverside to identify and recommend trees that are lower water use and appropriate for Southern California’s climate.

“TreePeople is thrilled to partner with Metropolitan to help expand our urban forest. Trees are a simple yet effective solution to the pressing climate issues facing Southern California,” said Tree People Director of Operations Daniel Berger. “Trees provide cooling shade, improve air quality, reduce energy bills, capture stormwater, and so much more. Trees are an unmatched investment in the health of people and our planet.”

Metropolitan General Manager Adel Hagekhalil said the new rebate is one more example of what Metropolitan is doing to respond to the many impacts of the region’s changing climate, and praised Southern Californians for continuing to do their part to save water.

“With climate change challenging every water resource we’ve historically relied upon, we must take action now to build more local water supplies, invest in a more resilient and flexible water system and continue to reduce our water use,” Hagekhalil said. “Thankfully, the public has continued to show their dedication to reducing their water use, rain or shine.”

With the biggest opportunity to save water outdoors, Metropolitan’s Turf Replacement Program has changed the face of the region, transforming more than 200 million square feet of thirsty lawns into sustainable landscapes -- saving enough water to serve about 68,000 homes annually. More information on rebates and ways to save water are available at

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California is a state-established cooperative that, along with its 26 cities and retail suppliers, provides water for 19 million people in six counties. The district imports water from the Colorado River and Northern California to supplement local supplies, and helps its members to develop increased water conservation, recycling, storage and other resource-management programs.