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May 23, 2024 11:31AM
May 23, 2024 11:31AM

customer care

From blah to beautiful

Couple’s landscape transformation turns humdrum lawn into an enticing oasis

After more than 35 years of parenting and grandparenting, the Hays’ home was best described as well-loved.

A wooden deck was rotting away. The lawn sat unused and uninviting, and a sitting wall — once a makeshift platform for the kids to parade on — created an impenetrable blockade that obstructed both function and design.

So, committed to making the most of their home in the years ahead, the Tustin couple made plans for a landscape renovation: reinventing their yard to create beautiful, livable spaces that make lounging out back their favorite place to be.

They were familiar with IRWD incentives to saving water, and applied for a turf rebate to get started.

Prequalification is important for turf removal, because it allows Irvine Ranch Water District to quantify the amount of lawn removed as a part of the project. (At $5 per square foot, this can lead to considerable savings.)

“The online application makes it really easy,” Linda Hay said. “You can track the progress of your application, and IRWD does a great job of keeping you in the loop and helping you along with way.”

The Hays worked with IRWD Water Efficiency Specialist Jake Loukeh, who made sure the application was on track and provided helpful resources as needed.

“We know the process can seem daunting at first, but we’re here to help people through it,” Loukeh said. “That includes a variety of planning resources for do-it-yourselfers.”

The Hays hired Linda’s rowing teammate, Amy Lawrence, to lay out the landscape design, hire contractors for the work and sum up all materials in one convenient invoice they could submit to cash in on rebates — about $4,000 worth, according to their estimates.

They used California native plants as the focal point of their new landscape: An elegant green-trunked palo verde tree produces a splash of showy yellow blossoms in spring. Several species of succulents provide subtle hints of blended hues and texture to the landscape, and flowering shrubs add a dimension of height with brilliant pops of color throughout the year. A row of vegetable beds, complete with rebate-approved water-efficient drip irrigation, provides healthy, hearty herbs and vegetables throughout the year.

Hardscape features include a recirculating rock fountain that brings harmony to the landscape —doubling as a water source for birds and pollinators — and a fire pit to warm evening conversations with friends and family. Material from the demolition of the original patio slab and walkways was repurposed to fill permeable paths throughout the garden.

In the end, the new landscaping has reduced the couple’s water consumption and their monthly water bill.

“Best of all,” Scott Hay said, “our family and friends like to come over more often to enjoy our beautiful backyard.”

For more information on IRWD’s turf rebate program, visit Visit for details on other water-saving incentives.