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Sunday, September 15, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Gardening: SpokaneScape program offers rebates for lawn-free, water-efficient front yards

A SpokaneScape landscape can be beautiful and drought tolerant at the same time. This garden at the WSU Spokane County Extension Office features kinnikinic, lavender and evergreens that thrive with a minimum of irrigation. (Pat Munts / The Spokesman-Review)
A SpokaneScape landscape can be beautiful and drought tolerant at the same time. This garden at the WSU Spokane County Extension Office features kinnikinic, lavender and evergreens that thrive with a minimum of irrigation. (Pat Munts / The Spokesman-Review)

Are you tired of mowing your front yard? Are the water bills driving you nuts?

If you are a Spokane City Water customer, you are in luck. The city’s SpokaneScape program will pay you to remove lawn in a front yard and help you design a new, water-wise landscape.

A SpokaneScape landscape is a water-efficient landscape that has been designed specifically for Spokane residents. It focuses on replacing water-thirsty lawn with low-volume irrigation and drought tolerant plant material to create a beautiful landscape while protecting and conserving water resources and, in the long run, reducing the amount of time and effort you need to put into your yard.

As an added bonus, the city is offering a rebate of up to $500 on your city utility bill if you remove lawn and replace it with drought tolerant plants. You may claim 50 cents per square foot up to a maximum of $500 with a minimum of 300 square feet of lawn removed or the equivalent of $150.

The rules are simple: You must be a city of Spokane water customer; your yard must have live turf visible from the street or a public area; you must have a preapproved plan; and you can only get one rebate a year.

Preparing a plan is probably the most complicated part of the process.

The city has teamed up with WSU Spokane County Master Gardeners for educational opportunities on May 16 and May 23 to provide one-on-one assistance to help you create a good design and appropriate plant list. Experts will discuss basic landscape design, soil health, native plants, drip irrigation and ornamental grasses.

The classes will run 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m at the WSU Spokane County Extension Office, 222 N. Havana St. The classes are free, but preregistration is highly recommended at (509) 477-2048 or at rtkestell@spokanecounty.org.

If you don’t qualify for the program and the rebate, you are still welcome to attend the classes and learn some tips and tricks to create an Inland Northwest-appropriate landscape. Our entire region has seen several years of drought conditions, so anyone can benefit from using what water we have efficiently.

A drought-tolerant garden doesn’t mean a yard full of cacti or scraggly looking native plants. It can still be full of color, visual interest and a fun place to spend a warm summer evening.

While native plants are preferred, there are a lot of other readily available plant choices that grow under drier conditions. Plant breeders have been working hard over the last 20 years to develop cultivars of some of our native plants that broaden the range of colors, sizes and textures available to gardeners.

If you would like to grow food crops in your old lawn space, that is also an acceptable plan for the program.

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